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Copyright at MHC

Fair Dealing and Instruction


Fair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

What is Fair Dealing?

Fair Dealing is a user's right in copyright law permitting use of, or "dealing" with, a copyright-protected work without permission or payment of copyright royalties.  The Fair Dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows you to use other people's copyright-protected material for the purpose of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review, or news reporting, provided that what you do with the work is "fair".  If your purpose if criticism, review, or news reporting, you must also mention the source and author of the work for it to be Fair Dealing.

Fair Dealing: The Basics

1.  Exceptions in the Copyright Act (sec. 29) allows teachers, instructors, professors, and staff members in non-profit educational institutions to communicate and reproduce, in paper or electronic form, short excerpts from copyright-protected works for the purposes of research, private study, education, criticism, review, parody, satire, or news reporting.


2.  Copying or communicating short excerpts from a copyright-protected work under Fair Dealing guidelines for the purpose of news reporting, criticism, or review should mention the source and, if given in the source, the name of the author or creator of the work.


3.  A single copy of a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work may be provided or communicated to each student enrolled in a class or course:

  • as a class handout
  • as a posting to an LMS or learning management system that is password-protected) or is otherwise restricted to students of a school or post-secondary educational institution (Blackboard)
  • as part of a coursepack


4.  A "short excerpt" is:

  • a.) up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sounds recording, and an audiovisual work)
  • b.) one chapter from a book
  • c.) a single article from a periodical
  • d.) an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
  • e.) an entire newspaper article or page
  • f.) an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores
  • g.) an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work


5.  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.


6.  Copying or communicating that exceeds the limits of Fair Dealing may be referred to the Copyright Specialist for evaluation.  An evaluation of whether the proposed copying or communication is permitted will be made based on all relevant circumstances.


Attribution:                             This guide has been adapted for MHC from the Justice Institute of British Columbia's "Copyright Guide for Faculty: Fair Dealing" and Simon Fraser University's "What is Fair Dealing and how does it relate to copyright?" webpages.  This page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike International license.