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Copyright guide

Copyright basics - Fair dealing

"Fair dealing" offers some exceptions to the Copyright Act's general prohibition on copying. Fair dealing allows limited and non-commercial copying for the purposes of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting.

Proportionality is important in considering if use of a work might be considered fair dealing. In the CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada [2004] decision, the Supreme Court proposed the following criteria for evaluating whether a dealing is fair:

  • the purpose of the dealing
  • the character of the dealing
  • the amount of the dealing
  • the nature of the work
  • available alternatives to the dealing
  • the effect of the dealing on the work

The purpose of the use, the amount to be used and alternatives available have to be considered, and must outweigh the nature and the effect of the dealing on the work.

Everyone benefits from fair dealing. However, educational institutions, libraries, museums and archives have additional special provisions (s.29.4 to 30.4)

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