Copyright means the “right to copy” and is part of a larger area of law - intellectual property law - which protects the intangible or intellectual nature of a work. Copyright protects many types of works and only the copyright owner has the right to reproduce an entire work or a substantial part of it.
Reproducing a work includes actions such as photocopying, scanning, downloading, uploading or emailing. A work can include a written text, art, music, a dramatic work or a stand-alone work (for example, a graph, chart, map, figure, photograph, table or diagram). A work can also be a sound recording, a performance or a communication signal.
In Canada, there is no requirement that a work be registered for it to be copyright protected or that the word "copyright" or the symbol “©” appear on the work for it to be protected. However, it is recommended to use the universal copyright symbol “©” on any works you have created, as it serves as a reminder to others that the work is protected.
In general, it is permissible for University of Saskatchewan (USask) faculty, instructors, researchers, staff and students to copy much of what is needed for teaching and research purposes because these activities fall within the allowances of the Copyright Act and its exceptions or because the university has signed licences which permit use of those works. Note that it is good academic practice to cite sources, but citing alone is not considered an appropriate substitute for obtaining copyright permission.
Why is copyright important?
Use of copyrighted materials is protected under the law in Canada, specifically the Copyright Act. The university has implemented policy and guidelines that, as members of the university community, we are required to follow. USask respects intellectual property and intellectual property laws and will take appropriate steps to ensure consistent application of legal requirements throughout the campus. It is the responsibility of each member of the university community to comply with copyright laws and respect copyright ownership and licencing. Please note that in addition to potential liability, staff at the University Libraries, Archives, Retail Services (Bookstore) and university-affiliated printing or copying organizations have a professional responsibility to respect copyright law and may refuse to copy or print something if it is thought to be an infringement of copyright law.
Materials protected by copyright
Copyright protection exists as soon as a work is created in a fixed form (for example, written down, recorded). A fact or idea is not subject to copyright protection, but the expression of the fact or idea is protected.
Copyright protects creators of:
- literary, dramatic, artistic, musical works (for example, book, letter, e-mail, blog, computer program, compilation, government publication, script, play, film, painting, sculpture, photograph, map, architectural drawing, sheet music, compositions, music video, etc.);
- sound recording (for example, lectures, animal sounds, nature sounds, music, audio book, etc.);
- performances (for example, dancing, singing, acting, etc.);
- communication signals (for example, pay-per-view, radio, satellite, broadcasts, etc.).
Multiple types of copyright may exist within one work. For example, a musical work may consist of the song and the device that contains the song (for example, a compact disc). In this case, the song and the device would be considered two different works and may be protected by copyright as a musical work and sound recording and the lyrics may also be categorized as a literary work. Additionally, a live performance of this song by an artist could also be protected as a performance.
Materials not protected by copyright
Copyright does not protect factual information, titles, short word combinations, names, characters, slogans, themes, plots or ideas. These may be used or copied without permission or payment of royalties (unless they happen to be protected under trademark law).
Additionally, copyright protection does not last forever. The main purpose of copyright law is to allow creators of works to be rewarded for their creative efforts. Statutory rules were put in place to determine when copyright protection of a work comes to an end. In Canada, copyright “expires” 70 years after the death of the creator (for example, the "life plus 70" rule), at which time the work enters the public domain.
Usually, the creator of a work (for example, the one who writes, draws, films, etc.) is the first owner of the copyright in that work. However, ownership of copyright may be transferred to another individual or entity (for example, to a publisher) or waived. Note that if someone owns a copy of a work, it does not mean they own copyright in that work.
If your use of a copyright-protected work is not covered by an existing licence or an exception in the Copyright Act, permission of the copyright owner must be sought. If material was created in the course of employment – unless there is an agreement to the contrary – the employer will own the copyright. Similarly, if a work has been commissioned, copyright will belong to the person or entity that commissioned the work.
Canadian copyright law
Copyright law in Canada endeavors to strike a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of users of copyright-protected materials. For creators, the law is meant to ensure that they have control over their own works. For users, the law outlines circumstances under which someone else’s work may be legally used, in whole or in part, for purposes of research, private study, criticism or review, news reporting, parody, satire or education and outlines specific exceptions relating to libraries, archives and educational institutions. The law also limits the term of copyright protection in order for the public to use works after copyright expires and works enter into the public domain.
Appropriate use of materials protected by copyright must comply with both the law and any licence agreements into which USask has entered. In Canada, rights (and limitations) of creators and allowable uses of copyright material are outlined in the Copyright Act. The university policy on the Use of Materials Protected by Copyright was created based on this legislation, to provide assistance to our university community in interpreting and complying with the law.
Faculty and instructors are often both creators and users of copyrighted works. Many of the uses the university community makes of copyrighted works are allowed under the Copyright Act’s fair dealing exceptions and/or publisher licences that have been negotiated and signed by the university. There are limits on fair dealing, however, even if the intent is to provide education. Please see the university's Fair Dealing Guidelines for details.
The creator of a work (for example, the copyright owner) is entitled to "economic rights" and "moral rights." These rights allow creators to control the publication and reproduction of their works, receive recognition and monetary benefits and protect the integrity of their works. These economic and moral rights include:
- produce or reproduce the work in entirety or any substantial part;
- perform the work or any substantial part, in public;
- publish the work;
- produce, copy, perform or publish any translation of the work;
- adapt the work to another form (such as from book to film);
- communicate the work to the public by telecommunication;
- remain associated with the work as its creator or the right to be anonymous; and
- prevent any alterations or modifications of the work.
The Copyright Act first came into effect in 1924 and has been amended significantly over the years. Most recently, Bill C-11, formerly Bill C-32, also called The Copyright Modernization Act was introduced in September 2011 and received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012. This new legislation has come into force as of November 7, 2012.
The Copyright Office is available to answer your questions and provide assistance with interpreting the law. However, note that a lawyer specializing in copyright law may need to be consulted in some cases.
What is copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of work(s) protected by copyright or infringing the copyright holder's rights, without written permission from the copyright holder. A person who does something with a protected work that only the copyright owner is entitled to do, and who does so without the permission of the copyright owner of that work, infringes the copyright of the owner and can be held liable. Remember – the author or creator of a work might not be the copyright owner of the work, if they have transferred or assigned their copyright to another person or entity.
Copyright infringement is sometimes referred to as piracy or theft. If you are not the copyright owner of the work(s) you wish to use and if your use of a copyright-protected work is not covered by an existing licence or an exception in the Copyright Act, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holder.
If permission was obtained to use a copyrighted work, include a “used with permission” statement when reproducing or distributing the work (for example, © Pearson Education, Inc. 2011. Used with permission, June 30, 2017). It is best practice to always cite your source, whether you use someone else’s data, a work from the public domain, a work for which permission was obtained, an open access work, a library resource, etc., but also note that citation does not necessarily eliminate the need to obtain written permission to use the material.
If using material for which you are the creator (for example, a photograph you have taken, a chart or graph you have created, an article you have written or an image that you have drawn, etc.), it is recommended that you indicate that you are the creator. It is also recommended to use the universal symbol “©” on any works you have created, along with your name and the year in which the work was created.
Who in the university is responsible for ensuring that faculty, staff and students comply with university copyright policy?
Everyone. Faculty, staff and students should always seek to comply with the Copyright Act as a best practice of academic professionalism. You are only permitted to make lawful copies of works and use works in lawful ways. Failure to comply with the Copyright Act could lead to personal liability, as well as liability for the university. Please ensure that you use copyrighted materials appropriately and advise your students and colleagues to use copyrighted materials appropriately. The Copyright Office is available to answer any questions you may have.
In addition to potential liability, staff at the University Libraries, Archives, Retail Services (Bookstore) and university-affiliated printing/copying organizations have a professional responsibility to respect copyright law and may refuse to copy or print something if it is thought to be an infringement of copyright law.
How do I know if I am responsible for a copyright infringement?
Generally, the person who actually infringes the rights of the copyright owner will be held liable for the infringement. In the absence of the fair dealing exception or a licence, anyone who photocopies a copyrighted book without permission will be held liable for that infringement, whether that person be a student, staff member or faculty member. Frequently, staff copy materials at the request of others (for example, a library assistant copying material for a faculty member or a student). In that case, both the person who makes the infringing copy and the person who requested the copy, can be held liable for the infringement. In addition, you may be placing liability on the university if the works were copied by an employee (or employees) of the university in the course of their employment. Before you engage in any copying or use of copyright protected materials, please consider the parties who you might be impacting. Please follow all university policies and guidelines to ensure proper copying practices.
What are the consequences of infringement?
Either civil or criminal penalties can be imposed for copyright infringement. Criminal penalties can include fines and/or imprisonment and depend on the seriousness of the infringement. While criminal penalties are usually reserved for those engaged in piracy for profit, civil penalties, including an order to pay damages or an injunction to cease infringing, can be imposed for other types of infringement. Monetary damages could be awarded to the copyright owner for loss of income occasioned by the infringement or for other losses.
What will happen if I don’t comply with the university’s policies and guidelines on copyright compliance?
USask policies and guidelines align with the Canadian Copyright Act and outline the institution’s requirements of faculty, staff and students to comply with all legal requirements.
USask is committed to compliance in all copyright matters. It is the responsibility of each individual to comply with copyright laws and respect copyright ownership and licencing. The use of copyright materials without proper consent may be actionable under both the Copyright Act and the Criminal Code. In addition to any actions that might be taken by any copyright owner or its licencing agent, the university will take any breaches of this copyright policy very seriously. In the case of employees, disciplinary procedures may be applied. In the case of students, disciplinary action for academic and/or non-academic misconduct may be applied.
- Copyright is the exclusive “right to copy” a work (for example, a book, article, video, sound recording, etc.) and includes rights to publish, perform, reproduce and distribute, post on the internet and adapt or modify the work.
- This exclusive right belongs to the copyright owner. Usually, the creator of a work is the first copyright owner, but copyright may be transferred to another individual or entity (for example, to a publisher) or waived. Copyright is often transferred from author to publisher in publishing contracts.
- To create a balance between copyright owners’ rights and user rights, there are exceptions included in the Canadian Copyright Act that allow for copyright-protected materials to be used for certain purposes such as research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting and education. One key exception for use of materials in education is the fair dealing exception.
- Use of copyright-protected materials must comply with both Canadian copyright law and any licence agreements into which USask has entered (for example, library licence agreements for electronic library materials). The university's policy on the Use of Materials Protected by Copyright was created to provide assistance to the university community in interpreting and complying with the law.
- Copyright infringement is the use of a copyright-protected work in a way that only the copyright owner has the right to use it (for example, publish the work, adapt the work, etc.) without acquiring written permission from the copyright owner. Either civil or criminal penalties can be imposed for copyright infringement. If you are unsure whether permission is required for your use of a work, it is safest to request permission from the copyright owner to be sure that there is no issue or contact the copyright coordinator for assistance.
Examples of materials protected by copyright
Examples of materials not protected by copyright