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The Basics: Copyright FAQ
1. What is copyright?
In Canada, copyright is a federal responsibility and its rules are set out in the Copyright Act. The Copyright Act grants the owner of the copyright the sole right to reproduce the entire work or a substantial part of the work (these rights are subject to the Fair Dealing and educational exceptions). With proper citation/attribution, an insubstantial part of a work may be copied without infringing copyright.
2. How can I tell if a work is covered by copyright?
3. What is Public Domain?
The phrase "Public Domain" is a copyright term referring to works that are free for everyone to use without asking for permission or paying royalties.
Works can be in the Public Domain for a variety of reasons:
"In Canada, most works pass into the Pubic Domain after fifty years following the end of the calendar year in which the author died. However, while a work may be in the Public Domain, a specific edition or image of the work may be under copyright. This is important to remember." -University of Toronto: Definition of Public Domain in Canada
4. What is Fair Dealing? What does it allow me to do?
Fair Dealing is an exception in the Copyright Act that allows limited copying for the purposes of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, or news reporting. See the Fair Dealing tab for guidelines.
5. Can I modify/adapt works?
Creating new works often involves building on the earlier works of others. From a copyright perspective, when is building on the works of others considered a proper inspiration and when is it considered improper infringement? Even courts have difficulty drawing the line between the two. Paraphrasing vs. adapting? What's the difference? When do I need permission?
6. What happens if I infringe copyright?
If you infringe copyright, you may be held liable for that action. While criminal penalties are generally 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, whether that person be a student, staff member, or faculty member.
7. What can I copy legally?
This page has been modified for MHC from the Justice Institute of British Columbia's "Copyright Guide for Faculty: The Basics" and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike international license.