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Your Rights as a Student
Under the Canadian Copyright Act, students at post-secondary institutions are covered by several educational exceptions and have the right:
In addition, students have all general user rights, including:
Once students graduate or otherwise leave the institution, educational exceptions cease to apply, but they retain all individual user rights.
When using someone else's work you have three immediate responsibilities:
In Canada, the Copyright Act was designed to balance the rights of the user with the rights of the creator. Anytime we are able to copy someone else's work without asking for permission is because of an exception in the Act that allows us to do so. To balance those user rights, it is important to make good faith determinations about the amount of work that you are using. Only that which is necessary to accomplish your purpose should be used. Occasionally, you may find it is necessary to copy the entirety of someone else's work. For example, you may need to copy an entire article for the purpose of study.
Original Works Created by Students are Protected by Copyright
The work students create while pursuing their post-secondary education is indeed protected by copyright, and students must authorize further use of their works.
As students own the work they create, their works cannot be photocopied or reproduced in any way without their permission. Student authors can refuse to share their work with other students. The original work could be circulated in a physical classroom but not reproduced to share. (The preceding is true unless there is a written agreement to the contrary or there is an employee-employer relationship)
The Copyright Act contains a number of exceptions that allow for copying of others' work especially for the purposes of education, research, and study. These exceptions are negated if you are using an illegally obtained work. So how do you ensure you're using legally obtained works?
It is much easier to determine what is a legal copy when considering physical works. A legal copy can include:
*Photocopies or reproductions, although physical, should be considered similar to digital content and viewed with a critical eye.
Determining the legality of digital content is more nuanced. When viewing digital content you should assume that it is protected by copyright unless otherwise stated. A great deal of the content that can be found on the internet is considered an illegal copy. This means it was posted without the permission of the creator, the copyright owner. With this in mind, you need to critically examine the digital content you intend to use. Here are some things to consider:
Exceptions in the Copyright Act are also negated if you break a digital lock to copy a work. These digital locks are also called TPM's (Technological Protection Measures), and they restrict your ability to copy or download online content. How do you know if something has a digital lock? When you encounter something with a digital lock you may notice that a download button is not available, the copy commands or drop downs either don't work or a grayed out, digital watermarks are visible, or DVD's are unable to be played in certain devices - these are all examples of the possible forms a digital lock may take. If you encounter a digital lock, you cannot take steps to circumvent it.
What About Using Images?
Most images you find in print material or on the internet are copyright-protected. Under exceptions in the Copyright Act you can make some use of copyrighted images in your course assignments.
Under Fair Dealing, you can use one entire image from a compilation of images (e.g. one image from an art book, one image from a gallery of images on the internet), or up to 10% of a stand alone image (an image that is not part of a larger compilation, but is on its own).
Under other educational exceptions in the Copyright Act, you can reproduce an entire image from the internet, as long as there is no clearly visible notice prohibiting copying, and as long as you know you are not breaking a TPM (Technological Protection Measure).
Where Can I Find Images That I Can Use Without Permission?
Some websites allow you to search specifically for images that have been licensed for reuse or that are in the Public Domain. There are some excellent resources for finding these types of images, including:
Are There Limits to How Much I Can Copy?
Under Fair Dealing, you can copy and communicate in paper or digital form up to 10% of a copyright-protected work or:
Under Fair Dealing, you can also:
As a Student at MHC, Can I.....
Include copyrighted materials in my assignments and presentations?
Generally, yes. The Fair Dealing exception allows students to use works for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, or new reporting. Provided you are including the work for one of these purposes, and acknowledge the author and source of the material, and the use could be characterized as fair, bearing in mind the Fair Dealing factors, it will likely be covered by the Fair Dealing exception.
Play a video/DVD (legal copy only) or project a streamed video in class?
Link to an online video in my presentation?
Make handouts for other students in my class?
You can make copies of your own work to distribute or share with other students in your class.
You can display a work that is not your own for a presentation or discussion in class.
You can make copies of a work that is not your own for a presentation or discussion in class, but the handouts can only be given to students in your class.
Perform a play on the premises of the institution?
Yes, under the following conditions:
An example is the performance of a play in a drama class.
Can I record my instructor's lecture to watch later?
Instructors are the copyright owners of their lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, and exams, and thus control what can be done with their course materials. You may not record an entire lecture or copy entire lecture notes or exams without prior permission of your instructor.
Information in this guide is intended for the purpose of increasing copyright literacy. It is not to be seen as legal advice.