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Copyright guide

Text (print and electronic)

Whether in print or digital form, text is protected by copyright. Most formats are protected, such as books, articles, websites and their components, as well as most types of works, such as poems, plays, novels or essays.

Copying or scanning for personal use

One may make a copy of a portion of a work if it is fair dealing or if a special exception in the Copyright Act permits it. Otherwise a special agreement must exist between the copyright holder and the user, such as through a licence agreement.

Just how much of a work can be copied, or what might be considered "fair" is not defined in the Copyright Act. For more information see the sections Substantial/Insubstantial and Fair Dealing.

Photocopies for classroom use

The Copibec licence governs the creation of course packs, which are, technically, multiple copies of works. As well, this licence allows for making multiple copies of a work for free classroom distribution. The photocopies must not exceed 20% of the total work. In addition, a full article can be copied, as well as a full chapter from a book, as long as it does not exceed 20% of a book. Note that not all publishers are represented by this licence. Verify the Copibec site for details. The publisher of the work must not be in the Copibec exclusion list.

It is important to understand that the Copibec licence does not apply to users' fair dealing rights.

Digital distribution: e-mail and internet

How much or how little one can deliver electronically to one or many colleagues, students or staff depends upon the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act.

  • E-mail
    It is generally not advisable to send copyrighted works via e-mail unless you own the right to do so. If you wish to share an electronic article, website or other electronic resource with others, it is preferable to provide a link to the source in your e-mail, the Web address or bibliographic reference. For example, if you wish to refer an article from an electronic journal provided by the Libraries to a colleague, a student or group of students at Concordia, send the link to the article, not the entire article. (How to create permanent links to online articles). A colleague at another University may obtain the document from their home institution. If you wish to share a webpage, it is preferable to provide the link in the e-mail as opposed to attaching the page to the body of your message.
  • Internet
    Posting copyrighted text on a website may not constitute research or private study since this is a form of distribution. On the other hand, fair dealing allows education, parody, satire, criticism, review and news reporting, which may require posting text on the internet. The quantity of text you post should be proportional to the amount of criticism, review and news reporting that is done and proper attribution must always be given to the original creator of the text. It is preferable to provide links to the text rather than reproduce it on the internet.

Citing and quoting

Proper citing of sources is essential in academic work. With regards to copyright, although rules regarding proper citation styles do not form part of the copyright rules, but rather the rules regarding academic integrity, citing touches upon the moral right of a creator's paternity of a work. For more information on citing and quoting material, consult the Academic Code of Conduct as well as A guide to academic integrity. Guides to citation styles (such as MLA, APA) are available on the Libraries' website.

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