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Copyright at MHC

What is Copyright?

           Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Copyright Basics

Copyright is the sole and exclusive right of a copyright owner to produce, reproduce, perform, publish, adapt, translate, and telecommunicate a work, and to control the circumstances in which others may do any of these things.

In Canada, copyright is implied; as soon as a work is created, it is protected by copyright even if the author does not include a copyright statement or symbol.  The Canadian Copyright Act (and Canadian court decisions) automatically governs an original work for the life of the author plus 50 years.

The term "work" means:

  • any literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical work,
  • a computer program,
  • a translation of a work,
  • a compilation of others' works,
  • a recording of any kind,
  • a performance of a work.

Generally (but not always), the author of the work is the copyright owner - and that person is said to own or hold the copyright in the work.  In other words, they have the right to control if and how the work will be produced, copied, performed, etc.  The rights of the copyright owner, however, are subject to certain users rights or 'exceptions', which permit members of the general public to copy, perform, etc. works in certain limited circumstances, without the copyright owner's knowledge or permission.  


Copying or scanning can be carried out under any one of the following circumstances:

  • 1.  The work is in the public domain
  • 2.  Copying is explicitly allowed by the rights holder through a Creative Commons or Open Access license or similar statement.  A condition of using items under a CC license is proper attribution.  Click here to learn how to correctly attribute a CC work.
  • 3.  The work is appropriately licensed by the library.
  • 4.  Permission has been granted by the rights holder (usually the author or publisher).  Please contact the Copyright Specialist if you require assistance obtaining permission.
  • 5.  The copying falls within one of the educational exceptions or fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act.  The Copyright Act provides exceptions which allow copying, in paper or electronic form, under certain circumstances for colleges and universities, or persons acting under the authority of an educational institution.  Click here to learn more about fair dealing.


You may not copy or scan:

  • Any published work where the publication containing the work does not contain other works.  For example, no copy may be made of a play from a publication containing the play but no other work,
  • Unpublished works,
  • Proprietary workbooks, work cards, assignment sheets, tests or examination papers,
  • Instruction manuals,
  • Newsletters with restricted circulation intended to be restricted to a fee-paying clientele,
  • Business cases which are made available for purchase.

The premise for the above is that copying is not intended to substitute for the purchase of a work that is commercially available in a medium that is appropriate for the purpose.

Note: Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright-protected work, with the intention of copying or communicating substantially the entire work, is prohibited.

Note: You cannot use logos or trademarks without prior permission from the owner.  These are not covered under copyright law and do not have any educational exceptions.

Some other do nots:

  • Do not post copyrighted material to the open web.
  • Do not re-digitize material.  First, check to see if it is already available from the MHC Library and create a persistent link.
  • Copies cannot be used to replace or substitute for the purchase of a work.


Attribution:                              This material has been adapted for Medicine Hat College from Royal Roads University Copyright Guide and Kwantlen Polytechnic University Copyright Guide.  This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike International license.