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Copyright FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about copyright

What is copyright?

Copyright protects the rights of creators giving them the sole right to produce, reproduce, adapt, and authorize others to do so with their works. This allows creators to be compensated and acknowledged for their works, and encourages them to keep producing material.

What does copyright cover?

Copyright covers original fixed material form, you cannot copyright an idea. There are four categories that explain the types of materials that are covered by copyright:

1.  Artistic (ex. Paintings, photos, maps, and charts)

2. Dramatic (ex. Choreographic work, cinematographic works, and compilations of dramatic works)

3. Musical (ex. Music, composition, and compilations)

4. Literary Works (ex. Books, essays, tables, computer programs, compilations, and comics).

What rights do copyright holders have?

Copyright holders have the sole right to produce, reproduce, perform, record, publish, translate, or transform the work, along with the right to license or rent their work.

How long does Copyright law remain in place?

As a general rule in Canada, copyright law remains in place for the duration of the author's life. The copyright law applies for the remainder of the calendar year when the author dies, and for another 50 calendar years, before falling under public domain. 


For further information please visit:



If I create something at work, who is the copyright holder?

If something is created in the course of your employment the employer is the copyright holder, unless there was a previous agreement stating otherwise.

***Quebec exception: A College or Cegep teacher, who creates the work in the course of their employment, is the copyright holder. However, the Collective Agreement states that the creator cannot oblige the College to pay royalties for a work created with the assistance of the employer.

What is Copibec and how does it affect me?

Copibec is a collective society that facilitates the negotiation of rights, and licensing agreements, for literary works on behalf of copyright holders that choose to be represented by Copibec.

Copibec collects and distributes royalties to the copyright holders, therefore the college must declare the use of a work so Copibec can pay out the appropriate royalties.

***Please note: Since Copibec negotiates licensing agreements on behalf of the copyright holders, the licensing rights may differ between institutions. Please verify locally at your Library, Bookstore, or with a legal professional if you are unsure of your local policies.

For more information on Copibec visit:​

When should I use copyrighted material (over open source alternatives)?

Users should use copyrighted material when the value of the copyrighted work is greater than its alternatives. If it is the best available work, users should consider using it and potentially paying the associated royalties.

How can I use copyrighted works fairly?

Always give attribution to the author/creator/copyright holders, and respect the copyright licensing agreements:

The general copyright law for reproduction is the lesser of 10% or 25 pages of the work.

Under Copibec:

  • Up to 15% of a work covered by Copibec may be copied.
  • Works developed for Colleges/Cegeps (textbooks etc.) the lesser of 10% or 25 pages may be copied.
  • A whole article from a periodical or newspaper may be copied, provided it does not exceed the lesser of 10% or 25 pages of the whole work.

Under fair dealing, using a copyrighted work for non-profit educational, research, private study, parody, or satire reasons, does not infringe copyright. For more information on this see the Fair Dealing video and FAQ’s.

Remember: Licensing agreements may differ between institutions, so please verify locally at your Library, Bookstore, or with a legal professional if you are unsure of your local policies.

Copyright Further Information

All of the information for these FAQs was taken from the following Copyright Workshop guide and was intended as a supplement, please visit this guide for any further information:


We acknowledge the financial contribution of the Table Interordres provinciale du secteur Anglophone /  Provincial Interlevel Table for the English Sector, as well as the technical contribution of M. Ryan Moon, Program Manager - English Language Services Cégep à distance.

The presentation content was adapted from the REPTIC April 2014 workshop Copyrights in the CEGEP environment by Maître Robert Y. Cousineau.