Fair Dealing

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Fair dealing is an important user’s right in Section 29 of the Copyright Act. It permits the reproduction of a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner or the payment of royalty fees provided that what you are doing with the work is fair. The Act does not define fair dealing, other than to list its allowable purposes. The Act does not provide guidance on what amount may be copied under fair dealing either. However, the Supreme Court of Canada has provided some additional guidance on fair dealing. In 2004, the Court established a two-step test to analyze whether a dealing with a work was fair in CCH v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2004 SCC 13.


First, your copying (the dealing) must be for a purpose stated in the Act. The eight permissible fair dealing purposes are:

  • Research
  • Private study
  • Education
  • Parody
  • Satire
  • Criticism
  • Review
  • News reporting


Second, your copying (the dealing) must be fair. Six criteria are used to assess whether a specific use of a work is fair:

  1. The predominate purpose of the dealing must be a purpose specified in the Act
  2. The character of the dealing, including number of copies and distribution of copies
  3. The amount copied. This refers to the size of the excerpt reproduced
  4. The available alternatives to copying, including whether non-copyrighted works exist
  5. The nature of the work, including whether the work is unpublished or confidential
  6. The effect of the dealing on the work, including whether the copying competes with the market for the original work


In July 2012, the Supreme Court provided further guidance on what the second test means in schools and post-secondary educational institutions in Alberta (Education) v. Access Copyright, 2012 SCC 37


Consult our Fair Dealing Flowchart to learn more or this FAQ from Colleges & Institutes Canada on fair dealing.


This website provides educational information. It does not provide legal advice.