Before You Copy
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Before you reproduce a copyrighted work, you need to determine whether permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. Examples of common reproduction activities include making photocopies, scanning copyrighted material into digital formats, saving a copy of a webpage, file, image, or video from the Internet, or emailing attachments.
Answering the following five questions will help you determine what you can copy. Always consider these questions before you copy:
- Does the work require permission for copying?
- Does the work provide permission for copying?
- Does Saskatchewan Polytechnic have a licence permitting copying of the work?
- May fair dealing be used to copy the work?
- Is copying of the work allowed under a special exception in the Copyright Act?
If none of these factors apply, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner before copying. Let’s examine each question in greater detail:
1. Some works do not require permission to copy. Situations where permission is not required include:
- Ideas and facts, such as the theory of evolution or weather conditions, are not protected by copyright
- In Canada, most works are protected for 50 years as of December after the death of the creator. Once the copyright term expires, the work enters the public domain and is no longer protected by copyright
- Insubstantial amounts of a work, such as a quote or short passage
- Linking to a website or Saskatchewan Polytechnic database. Unless special conditions exist, linking to a work does not constitute reproduction or require permission
2. Does the work provide permission for copying?
- Many federal and provincial government websites provide permission to copy for personal or public non-commercial purposes
- Creative Commons, open access, and other alternative licensing options provide expanded opportunities for copying. Works licensed in this manner can often be reproduced liberally without permission for non-commercial purposes
- Consult our Copyright Friendly Resources page to learn more.
3. Does Saskatchewan Polytechnic have a licence permitting copying of the work?
- Saskatchewan Polytechnic purchases licences from electronic vendors in order to provide access to digital content and databases
- These licences may provide expanded opportunities for reproduction
- Consult our Licensed Resources page to learn more.
4. May fair dealing be used to copy the work? Is the copying fair?
- Fair dealing is a user’s right in the Copyright Act that permits reproduction of a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner for the purposes of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting
- The Act does not define fair dealing or indicate the amount that may be copied. Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Fair Dealing Guidelines specify allowable purposes, what amount of material may be copied, to whom the copied material may be distributed, and the citation required
- Consult our Fair Dealing page to learn more.
5. Is the copying allowed under an exception in the Copyright Act?
- Exceptions in the Copyright Act allow limited copying without permission for specific purposes
- Exceptions exist for educational institutions, libraries, archives, museums, and persons with perceptual disabilities
- Exceptions also allow for copying of a work from the Internet and creation of YouTube mashups
- Consult our Exceptions page to learn more.
If none of these factors apply, you need to obtain permission from the copyright owner before copying. Consult our Obtaining Permission page to learn more.
This website provides educational information. It does not provide legal advice.