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Respecting Copyright


Copyright is a form of intellectual property. In Canada, copyright is regulated by the Copyright Act, which protects literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works. In academia, there are generally two types of works:

Literary works: books, dissertations, theses, articles, reports, lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, research reports, software, etc.

⇒ For a literary work to be protected by copyright, it must be fixed on a physical support and must be original, requiring the talent and judgment of the author.

Artistic works: charts, maps, plans, drawings, photos, schemes, etc.

An artistic work (graph, diagram, photo, etc.) included in a scientific article is considered to be a complete work and is therefore protected by the Copyright Act. To reuse it, you must obtain permission from the copyright holder, unless its usage constitutes an exception under the Copyright Act.

● Other protected works are videos, sound recordings, etc.

NOTE: There are other forms of intellectual property: patents (that protect inventions), trademarks, and industrial designs. For more information, consult the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) website.


You do not need to do anything to assert or maintain your copyright, if your work is original and fixed on a physical support.


"As of December 30, 2022, the general term of copyright protection in Canada changes from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author. This change does not affect works that are already in the public domain." Source: A guide to copyright (CIPO)


Words, names, short phrases, and ideas.

Rights Recognized by the Copyright Act

The Copyright Act recognizes two types of rights: moral rights and economic rights.


      ● The right to be recognized as the author/creator of a work. This right is also known as "paternity".

⇒ An author is not allowed to assign this right to someone else, but he may waive it in writing.
⇒ An author has the right to write under a pseudonym or to remain anonymous.

      ●  The right to the integrity of a work: An author has the right to prevent any revision, modification, or distortion of his/her work.

⇒ This prevents a work from being used in a way that was not intended by the author.

The moral rights CANNOT be transferred.


      ● The sole right to reproduce, publish, adapt or transform the totality or any significant portion of a work.

      ● The sole right to control how the work is used by others.

      ●  The right to benefit from the work and its use by others.

⇒ A person who would like to reuse a copyrighted work must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.

The economic rights can be transferred.

Example: The publishers of scientific journals often require authors to transfer them the economic rights to the articles they publish. After the author signs the contract, the publisher will be the owner of the copyrights to the article. This means that the author will have to ask permission from the publisher to reuse his/her own work, as well as the original figures and images included in the work.

Basics of Copyright

● An Introduction to Copyright (license CC BY-NC 4.0), video created by CARL.

Types of Copyrights

● The Balancing Act: What Rights Do Copyright Owners Have? (license CC BY-NC 4.0), video created by CARL.

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