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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Frequently Asked Questions

This is a partial list of common questions and answers for general purposes only; for more specific information, please contact the Intellectual Property Office at Permissions have to be confirmed by the TRU IPO.


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Fair dealing

 What is TRU’s Fair Dealing Policy?

To access TRU's Fair Dealing Policy, go here. Supporting guidelines regarding TRU's Fair Dealing Policy may be found here.

 What is fair dealing as referenced in the Copyright Act, and how does it affect me?

In Canada, Fair Dealing is a copyright exception set out in s. 29 of the Copyright Act; Fair Dealing permits copying for research or private study, criticism or review, and news reporting.Fair dealing is defined by a six-part test which was established by the Supreme Court in CCH Canadian Ltd. V. Law Society of Upper Canada.The first part must be met before the subsequent parts can be considered:

  • Purpose: The purpose of the copying must be for research, private study, criticism or review, news reporting.Soon education, satire and parody may be added as well .
  • Character: Is the copying limited to a single copy, or will multiple copied be produced?
  • Amount: How much of the work is being copied?
  • Alternatives: Are there any reasonable alternatives to making a copy?For example, can a textbook be placed on reserve for students to reference?
  • Nature of the Work: Is the work something produced for financial gain for a restricted clientele?Is it an academic article produced with the purpose of disseminating original research with no motive of financial gain?Is it an unpublished or confidential work?
  • Effect: What is the likely economic effect of the copying on the market for the original work?

In the Supreme Court of Canada decision, Alberta (Education) vs. Canadian Copyright (Access Copyright), 2012 SCC 37, the majority of the court found that teachers making multiples copies of "short excerpts" for students qualifies as "private study", and would satisfy the first part of the Fair Dealing test.If you are unsure as to whether your use of copyrighted materials will qualify as Fair Dealing, please contact the IPO.

 What do the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act refer to?

S. 29.4(1) of the Copyright Act lists exceptions to copying restrictions for educational institutions, including:

  • Chalkboards: A work can be manually reproduced onto a dry-erase board, flip-chart or similar surface intended for displaying hand-written information;
  • Overheads: An image may be projected using an overhead projector or similar device;
  • Exams: It is permissible to reproduce, translate, perform in public, or to communicate by telecommunication, on the premises of an educational institution, a work or subject matter required for the purposes of an examination.

Classroom use

 Can I show an online video from, for example, YouTube, in a classroom? Can I play an audio recording in a classroom?

Don’t show videos from YouTube or any other online website unless they appear to have been uploaded by their copyright holder. If an online video has been uploaded legally, you can show it in a classroom, and link to it or embed it in a TRU learning management system.

 Can I show or play a recorded television/radio broadcast in a classroom?

S. 29.4 of the newly amended Copyright Act, expected to be in force in the latter part of 2012, permits this use as long as it is for educational or training purposes.

 Is it legal for an instructor to project an image in the classroom via PowerPoint, for example?

Yes.In Canada, the Copyright Act states that copyright protection lasts for 50 years after the death of the author of an original work.If the artist died more than 50 years ago, the work is in the public domain.However, certain adaptations, publications, or depictions of the work may be copyrighted.If the image is not in the public domain, you can still probably project the image in the classroom, based on s. 29 of the Copyright Act which lists exceptions to copying limits for educational institutions.These exceptions include the right to project images to various devices for educational or training purposes.The exception may not apply, however, if the work in question is commercially available.

 Can I copy an image into my PowerPoint slides that I show in class?

Yes, you are allowed to project or display a copyrighted work in class without obtaining permission; this is entrenched in the Copyright Act (s. 29.4(b)).

 Can my students play live music in class?

S. 29.5 of the Copyright Act permits this long as it is for educational purposes.

 Can I make multiple paper copies of a journal article or book chapter for distribution in a classroom?

Paper copies of an article or other copyrighted work may be made and distributed in the classroom as fair dealing.

 Can I give one page handouts to students?

Copying short excerpts is allowable under the fair dealing exception. If in doubt, contact the IPO.

 Can I make multiple paper copies of a government publication for distribution in a classroom?

Federal Government of Canada Publications: Government of Canada publications are protected by Crown Copyright. However, the Government of Canada has granted permission for the reproduction of works for "personal, or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes", unless otherwise specified in a particular work. Provincial British Columbia Government Publications: Permission from the B.C. Government must be obtained before copies of provincial government publications may be made for classroom purposes.Province of B.C. government publications are protected by Crown Copyright.

 Can I make paper copies of a website for distribution in a classroom?

Under the revisions to the Copyright Act, web content may not be copied where there is a notice to the contrary prohibiting such copying.Note: Websites with Creative Commons licenses allow copying for some purposes.Check the specific permissions granted, and acknowledge the author and source of such materials where required.Additionally, some websites have terms and conditions which state whether they may be copied, distributed, etc. for educational purposes.If so, you do not need to seek additional permission.

TRU learning management systems

 Is it copyright infringement to post a link to a journal or to a webpage?

No. If you are only providing a link to an external URL, then this is fine as the material is being published by another source. However, if you are downloading material and posting to the TRU server, permission may be required.Note: it is always a good to keep in mind that links can be unstable, and that material accessible today may be gone tomorrow.

 Can supplemental materials that come with the textbooks used in a course be embedded into TRU’s learning management systems such as Moodle?

Yes, but embedding a video into Moodle would be a form of copying and distribution, therefore it would have to be confirmed that TRU has permission by virtue of the use of the textbook; if no permission exists, then permission would have to be requested and a special license may need to be obtained.

 Is it OK to transfer a PowerPoint from instructor resources for a text to TRU’s learning management system, such as Moodle?

This is similar to the video example above and the same answer is applicable.

 What is the professor’s duty to monitor message boards with regard to copyrightinfringement?

There is no need to worry too much about postings on a secure network unless works are being quoted or otherwise used in substantial amounts in the discussion; it is important to look at the user agreement for the site in question for specific guidelines.Something to keep in mind is that you may need participants’ permission to copy their contributions for future use in a course, for example.

 What if a professor wants to add new materials to the TRU management systems as the course proceeds?

If the work added is in the public domain, from an open source, or could be considered Fair Dealing (please see explanation of Fair Dealing above), it may be added without permission from the rights-holder.In other cases, permission of the rights-holder must be obtained by the IPO, either by direct request or under one of TRU’s license agreements.Please contact the IPO for assistance with this.

 Can I upload scans (digital copies) of copyrighted print materials to TRU learning management systems?

Copyright protected print materials may not be scanned and uploaded to TRU learning management systems or other website without the written permission of the copyright holder unless the excerpts in question qualify as Fair Dealing or another exception.

 Can I upload a PDF of an article or an image obtained from a library research database or electronic journal to TRU’s learning management systems?

Some (NOT most) of the license agreements between TRU and the publishers of the library’s research databases permit users to upload content to learning management systems, such as Moodle or Blackboard.For databases that do not permit this, most licenses do permit posting a "persistent URL" to an article online.Linking is not considered to be a form of copying.

 Can I upload my instructional PowerPoint slides to TRU’s learning management systems?

Yes, provided that any copyright protected material falls within Fair Dealing, or alternatively, written permission has been received from the copyright holder.

Course packs

 Can I include third party materials in a course pack?

You can include copyrighted third party works in course packs if those works fall within Fair Dealing or another exception, or if you have a license or permission from the copyright holder.

Private use

 Can I or my students copy copyrighted materials for our own private use?

S. 29 of the Copyright Act articulates the Fair Dealing exception to copyright limitations in Canada; Fair Dealing permits copying for research or private study, criticism or review, news reporting, educational, satirical and parody purposes.

Student use

 What images can students include in their course papers, presentations, or other assignments?

The following points should be considered in determining whether a reproduction of an image may be included in a student paper:

  • Is it Fair Dealing?Fair Dealing permits limited copying for specific purposes which include research and/or private study, and educational purposes.However, if such a paper is going to be published and disseminated, the copying may no longer qualify as Fair Dealing.
  • Is the image considered to be in the public domain?If yes, then there are no applicable restrictions on the copying of the image.
  • Is the image available from the licensed ArtStor database collection?ArtStor images can be reproduced for student papers, and this is explicitly stated in the TRU Library’s license agreement with ArtStor.Again, however, if this paper is bound for publication, this permission no longer applies.
  • Does the image have a Creative Commons license for re-use?If yes, then you may use it subject to the terms of the license.
  • Does the student have written permission from the artist/copyright holder to reproduce the image for this express purpose?If yes, then you may use it.

Library reserves

 I am looking for information regarding library reserves; where do I find this?

Common questions

 Does copyright apply to the material that is reproduced for an exam?

There is an exception under s. 29.4 of the Copyright Act for material used on an exam: anything can be used for the purposes of an exam without requiring clearance from the rights holder.

 What does "share alike" really mean in creative commons organizations?

Generally, "share alike" means that you are required to share the work that you created from the material you used under the creative commons license.This may depend upon the creative commons license being used, so it is important to read the individual user agreements/disclaimers.

 If copyright for an e-journal is cleared, but then the link to the journal no longer works, what do I do?

The best solution to this is to pre-empt this problem by making a digital copy of the material to have on file.This can be used per the terms of the permission if the link is no longer available.Remember that you may need permission to post a digital copy where you would not need permission to link to the material on an external URL.

 If copyright for an e-journal is cleared, but then the link to the journal no longer works, what do I do?

The best solution to this is to pre-empt this problem by making a digital copy of the material to have on file.This can be used per the terms of the permission if the link is no longer available.Remember that you may need permission to post a digital copy where you would not need permission to link to the material on an external URL.

 Is there a difference between sending a PDF and sending a link to a PDF?

Yes, there is a difference.If the link to a PDF is to an external URL, then the PDF is being published by another party, and therefore linking to it is fine.If the link is to a file on TRU’s server, then we are publishing the PDF and must have permission to do so, unless the material is subject to one of the exceptions of user rights, such as fair dealing. Please see above for an explanation of fair dealing.

 What can I do to avoid issues with copyright?

You can avoid issues by following TRU's Fair Dealing policy, using links with citations as much as possible, or by using free materials with a Creative Commons license or by using works that are in the public domain.See the Copyright Resources section below for some suggestions.

 I just don’t have the time to clear copyright; can someone else do this for me?

The IPO will work on clearing any materials that require permission to reproduce.It is important that you provide sufficient information about the sources of any third-party material so that the IPO can prepare any necessary requests.

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