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Copyright FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions about copyright

What is fair dealing?

Fair dealing allows the user to reproduce a copyrighted work as long as it is for education, research, private study, parody, or satire. The user does not need the owner’s permission, or to pay royalties, however moral rights still apply; credit must be given to the author/creator, and the work cannot be altered unless otherwise authorized.

How do I use fair dealing fairly?

There are 6 criteria used to evaluate if something is used under fair dealing (as per the Supreme Court of Canada)

  1. The purpose of the dealing must be non-profit and used in an educational, research, private study, parody, or satire manner.
  2. The character of the dealing must remain true to its original purpose, for example if a work is being used in an educational institution it must be used for educational purposes. The user cannot use the work for any other purpose, it must be appropriately used.
  3. A user must only use the amount of the work that is necessary, ex. Copying an entire book when you only need on chapter of the book would be a violation of Fair Dealing.
  4. The user must explore alternatives to the copyrighted work (ex. Open source, creative commons, etc.), and prove that there is no equivalent alternative to the copyrighted work.
  5. The nature of the work resulting from the use of fair dealing must serve the greater good and be beneficial to the public.
  6. The effect of the use of fair dealing cannot have a negative impact, or compete directly with, the original work in the marketplace.


How can I use fair dealing in the classroom?

Users can fairly display a live performance at the time of its production to their class. They can also display a news or commentary program via telecommunication and make one copy of a news or commentary program (except documentaries), to show their students. However, if any of the above were received unlawfully, the fair dealing no longer applies.

Through fair dealing, users are also able to telecommunicate a work (via PowerPoint etc.) on the premises of an educational institution, as long as it is not commercially available in another appropriate medium. It is also fair to make one copy of this work, but it must be destroyed within 30 days of making the copy.

The educational institution must keep a record of the whole process by noting the date of the copy, its destruction, and its performance in public for which royalties are payable. Fair dealing cannot apply if any of the copied, or telecommunicated, material was obtained unlawfully.

How do I use copyrighted material in my telecommunicated lessons (ex. Via Léa, MIO, Moodle, email, etc.)?

Lessons by telecommunication must be restricted to students enrolled in the course. The teacher is allowed to make a permanent copy of the lesson for teaching purposes.

Students in the course may copy the lesson for personal use, but it must be destroyed within 30 days after final evaluation. 

The educational institution is obliged to destroy the copy within 30 days after the final evaluation. It must also take measures to limit the communication to students in the course, and make sure the students do not copy or communicate the lesson to others.

Can I use a digital reproduction of a work in my course?

Digital reproduction is allowed under the same general conditions as a reprographic license (Copibec). The reproduction may be communicated to students, however the educational institution is responsible for limiting print copies to one per student and teacher. The institution must keep the communications within the students enrolled in the course.

Can I use work available through the internet in my course (through fair dealing)?

Content available through the internet can be reproduced, communicated, or performed in the classroom as long as the source is cited (including: URL, author, performer, maker and/or broadcaster).

Exclusions to this rule are if:

  • The content is protected by a digital lock (ex. It requires a login, password, etc.)
  • There is a clearly visible notice that prohibits reproducing the work
  • If the user/teacher/instructor knows (or should have known) that the work was made available illegally.

Fair Dealing 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.