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Copyright Guidelines and Online Reading Resources: Copyright Laws

What is Copyright?

Copyright protects creators and their work and prevents others from using this work with express permission. While copyright laws allow more in a school setting than in a personal setting, there are still guidelines we must follow when using materials in our classes. When we follow copyright laws we are: upholding the law, acting with integrity, protecting the rights of creators, and modeling the importance of copyright for our students.

General Copyright Guidelines:

1.) Copyright lasts for the life of the creator (so usually 50+) years. 

2.) Corporation copyright lasts 50 years from the date of the publication.

3.) Copyright is automatic in Canada - creators and corporations do not have to apply for copyright. If a work you want to use with your class falls into either category 1 or 2, it is protected by copyright and copyright laws for education must be followed.

Fair Dealing Guidelines

The 2012 changes to the Canadian Copyright Laws allowed for much more flexibility for teachers in terms of what they can use in their classes. This does not mean, however, that we can use anything we want. The Copyright 4th Edition booklet outlines how copyright applies in educational settings.

In general, the main guidelines we must follow are outlined below:

1. Teachers, instructors, professors, and staff members in non-profit educational institutions may communicate and reproduce, in paper or electronic form, short excerpts from a copyright-protected work for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody.

2. Copying or communicating short excerpts from a copyright-protected work under these 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 a) as a class handout; b) as a posting to a learning or course-management system that is password protected or otherwise restricted to students of a school or postsecondary educational institution; c) as part of a course pack.

4. A short excerpt means: a) up to 10 per cent of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound 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 in these Fair Dealing Guidelines may be referred to a supervisor or other person designated by the educational institution for evaluation. An evaluation of whether the proposed copying or communication is permitted under fair dealing will be made based on all relevant circumstances.

7. Any fee charged by the educational institution for communicating or copying a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work must be intended to cover only the costs of the institution, including overhead costs.

Thinking about using a source, but not sure if it fits in these guidelines? Check out the CMEC (Council of Ministers Education, Canada) Fair Dealing Decision Tool to help you decide, or contact Pam and I would be happy to help!

Using Non-Print Resources

Teachers often ask about the use of non-print based materials in the classroom such as movies, songs, and internet images. So long as these sources are being used for educational purposes, in an educational setting, they can be used with the following provisions:

Movies, Documentaries and TV Shows:

A legally purchased copy of a movie, documentary, or tv show can be used in an educational setting so long as the following guidelines are followed:

  • The school must own a legal copy of the physical DVD, or own a legal copy of a digitally streamed version through an educational streaming service (such as CBC Curio). A copy that has been burned onto a DVD, or loaded onto a computer from an illegal streaming service or source can not be used.
  • ITunes and sourced movies, documentaries, or tv shows can not be uses as this violates Apple's terms of service. Netflix, Disney+, Crave or any other personally subscribed streaming service may not be shown in the classroom as this violates their terms of service. The only exception is Netflix will allow you to show their Netflix Original Documentaries in class for educational purposes. A complete list of allowed titles can be found here.

Images from the Internet:

Teachers and students may used any publicly available (meaning images that are not password protected or behind a pay wall) in their classes so long as the following guidelines are met:

  • They are used only for educational purposes within the classroom context.
  • The images are properly cited and attributed using a standard citation format (APA, MLA, etc.)

Music and Media Clips:

Teachers may use copyright protected music and media clips in their classroom so long at the following guidelines are met:

  • They are used only for educational purposes within the classroom context.
  • They are not shared publicly. For example, if a teacher created a slideshow with a copyright protected song as the background, they could share it with their students in class or in an assembly, could share it with parents on a password protected platform like Seesaw, or Google Classroom, but could not share it on a public facing platform like our school website. If you are looking for great sources for media and songs that can be used on a publicly facing platform, check out our Student Citation and Resource Libguide!

Transforming a Work into a Different Medium for use in Class:

Students and teachers may take images, media clips, and music to create "mash ups" such as videos or class presentations so long as the following guidelines are met:

  • It is only used for non-commerical purposes in the classroom setting.
  • The original pieces were obtained legally.
  • All original sources are properly attributed using a standard citation style (such as MLA, or APA).
  • Please note: teachers are not permitted to make recordings of themselves reading novels, or picture books to their students and share them with the students on either a public facing site, or a password protected site.

If you have a copyright question about non-print resources that you can't find the answer to here. Please check Copyright Matters!, or ask Pam and I would be happy to help!