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Respecting Copyright

Legislative Bodies in Canada

In Canada, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, as well as by international conventions to which Canada is a party.


  •  The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)  is the organization that deals with various forms of intellectual property, including copyright, patents, trademarks, and industrial designs.


Canada is a signatory to various international conventions, which ensures that "the works of Canadians are protected in most countries of the world since most of them are signatories to one or another of the international conventions" (RUTTEQ et ValoRIST, 2010). This also ensures that Canada protects works created by residents of foreign countries that are signatories to these international conventions.


"The policies of educational institutions may alter the application of the general principles established in the Canadian legal framework." (RUTTEQ et ValoRIST, 2010).

Polytechnique Montréal has published certain policies related to copyright:

Policy Regarding Technological Intellectual Property (2010), which protects the results of research.
Copyright Policy (2005)
Probity Policy (1995)

"Unless any agreement to the contrary, Polytechnique cedes the first copyright it owns on academic works created by its teaching staff in the course of their employment to the authors of those works." (Copyright Policy, II-8)

In case of an agreement between a university and a company,
the contract must stipulate who owns the copyright for the works created.


The Copyright Act provides for certain exceptions that allow the use of a copyrighted work without the prior permission of the copyright owner. One of the exceptions is the fair dealing. According to the Copyright Act (29 - 29.2):

"Fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright."

Fair dealing for the purpose of criticism, review or news reporting does not infringe copyright if the source, the author, the performer, the maker or the broadcaster are mentioned.

  • The Copyright Act does not specify what is "fair", therefore the courts have developed criteria for assessing whether a usage is fair (see Law Society of Upper Canada).

Assess whether your intended use of a work is fair:

Purpose Commercial Charitable/Educational
Character of the dealing
Multiple copies; Widely distributed/repetitive
Single copy; Limited distribution/one-off
Importance/amount of work copied Entire Work/Significant excerpt Limited/trivial amount
Effect of dealing on the original work Competing with original work No detriment to original
Nature of the work Confidential Unpublished/in public Interest
Available alternatives
Non-copyright works available;
Not necessary for purpose
No alternative works;
Necessary to achieve purpose

Source: Fair dealing flowchart (University of Waterloo) CC-BY-NC-SA


  • The Copyright Act (29.3) also states that:

"An educational institution, library, archive or museum, or person acting under its authority does not have a motive of gain [...] and recovers no more than the costs, including overhead costs, associated with doing that act."

Objectives of Copyright

Encourage creators to create new works
Ensure that creators' rights are respected

Copyright in Academia

Here are four videos licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 from a series on copyright created by CARL.

● How Does Copyright Law Apply at My University?

● When Do I Need to Think About Copyright?

● The Balancing Act: User Rights

● What Do I Need to Know About Licensing?

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