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Copyright probably isn't the first thing you think about when starting on an assignment or other creative project. However, copyright isn't something you should ignore. This website provides you with information and resources to learn more about both your rights and your responsibilities related to copyright.

Infographic: Why Should I Care About Copyright? Copyright seems like such a hassle. Besides the internet has pretty much made copyright obsolete anyway, right? So why would a university student care about copyright? There actually are some good reasons to pay attention to copyright, and not just because you don't want to spend all your time and money defending yourself in court. ONE: It is good scholarly practice. In an academic setting you are expected to follow the conventions of scholarly work by following legal requirements and the ethical standards of scholarship. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same thing, but both can significantly affect your academic standing. TWO: You benefit from copyright. You may not realise that your work as a student is protected by copyright. The same protections that apply to movies, music, and books apply to your assignments and any other creative projects you might complete outside of academic requirements. If you want others to respect your rights you should respect their rights as well. THREE: Future employers will expect you to follow best practices. Copyright is an issue that impacts many professions. Being aware of legal requirements is part of any profession and potential employers will expect you to be able to conduct your work legally and ethically. It's better to learn best practices around copyright now as a student than on the job when your career depends on it. FOUR: Copyright applies online. The internet may have changed how creative works are distributed but copyright laws still apply equally online and offline, and the internet also makes it easier for copyright owners to find acts of infringement. Besides,


The info-graphic above is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Infringement and Plagiarism

In academic work, it’s important to keep in mind the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism.

Plagiarism is an ethical offense, which includes use of someone else's work without providing proper attribution and passing it off as your own. Plagiarism does not necessarily include copyright infringement, although it can be used as the basis to charge someone with copyright infringement.  Even though copying one sentence, for example, from a short story or an online article is legal under copyright law, it may still qualify as plagiarism unless the source has been adequately cited.

Copyright infringement is a legal offense, which involves the unauthorized use or distribution of someone else's creative work, which can include writings, songs, video clips, movies, visual art, or other creative works, and is punishable under federal law. Taking a copyrighted work and making changes to it creates a “derivative work,” which would not be considered a unique work and also would not provide you with full copyright ownership. Properly citing a source avoids plagiarism, but not copyright infringement.

The text of this page was adapted from the University of Saskatchewan, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.

Library Reserves

Students are able to copy materials placed on reserve in the library for their personal use for the purposes of private study, research, education, review, criticism, news reporting, parody or satire. In cases where an entire work (e.g. the whole book) has been placed on reserve rather than just a short excerpt, student should ensure they do not copy more than is allowed under the fair dealing guidelines.

The Copyright Act requires use for the purposes of criticism, review, and news reporting to always include a full citation to qualify as fair dealing. In order to avoid plagiarism you should always provide a full citation when using others’ work in your own, regardless of your purpose in copying or the type of source.

See the library’s reading list & reserves page for more information on library reserves.

User Generated Content

Creating video mash-ups, memes, and spoofs of popular culture are just a few examples of the sorts of creative re-use of copyright-protected works often found on the Internet. Formally called user-generated content, non-commercial new works that are created by those using the works of others are commonplace. The short video below introduces you to an important section of the Copyright Act that applies to this kind of creative use and re-use. While the video assumes a mash-up video, the exception applies to all kinds of media.

What Can I Copy?

As a U of R student, the copying you can do without permission falls into several different categories:

  1. You may copy materials for which the university has negotiated licenses (according to the terms of those agreements); this would primarily include library databases and e-journals. In these cases the university has negotiated permission for you in advance.
  2. Fair dealing exceptions in the Copyright Act allow you to copy a short excerpt from a work for your personal use for the purposes of private study, research, education, review, criticism, news reporting, parody, or satire. The Copyright Act requires use for the purposes of criticism, review, and news reporting to always include a full citation to qualify as fair dealing. If the work you are copying from is in a digital format and contains technological protection measures to prevent copying (digital locks), those measures supersede the fair dealing rights granted in the Copyright Act and any circumvention of those measures constitutes an infringement of copyright. See the fair dealing guidelines for further guidance on using this provision.
  3. Works that are published as open access or under a creative commons licence can usually be copied, just make sure you adhere to any conditions stated in a terms of use or licence attached to the work.
  4. Works in the public domain have no limits on copying or other use. These are works in which copyright has expired. See the public domain page for details.

Note that not everything available on the Internet is open access or in the public domain. It’s best to assume that content you find online is copyright protected unless there is a clear statement indicating otherwise. See educational use of the Internet for more details.

Any copying that does not fall into one of these categories would need the permission of the copyright owner.