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Copyright & Licenses: Selected Tools for Navigating the Information Environment [DRAFT]: General Information

Copyright & Licensed Information: An Overview for Users


  • protects creative works, including literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, sound recordings, performances and communication signals. Copyright exists in books, articles, posters, manuals, graphs, CDs, DVDs, software, databases, websites, and many other expressive formats.

  • arises automatically when a work is created and generally continues for 50 years after the author’s death, although this may vary in some circumstances. If you want to reproduce or reuse substantial portions of a work, the recommended approach in Canada is to assume that it is protected by copyright unless there’s either a clear indication otherwise, or the author/creator has been dead for at least 50 years.

In the case of the Library's online resources, there is usually a license with the information provider that may clarify, restrict, or augment uses permitted by law.

It is important to be aware of these overlapping contexts when using third party information in teaching, learning and research.

This guide presents selected resources for interpreting copyright and licenses for educational purposes.

©: Current Issues

On June 29, 2012 the Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11, received royal assent. 

The new provisions in law, together with ongoing interpretation of recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions related to fair dealing, expand the capacity for functional use of copyright material in education.

In this transitional time please consult and weigh the various resources and guidelines that you find here and in your professional network to guide your practice. 

Through the ACCC and other organizations, Vancouver Island University and other universities and colleges have been advocating for several important issues related to copyright law reform and higher education.

In July 2012 the ACCC reached an agreement with Access Copyright, and continues to represent the interests of colleges with respect to the tariff proposal that is before the Copyright Board. 

Information about the Government's process:

VIU's policies on Copyright and Intellectual Property:

Commentary on recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions related to copyright and fair dealing in education:

The Copyright Board of Canada has been considering a tariff proposal from Access Copyright. Pending certification of a tariff, the Board issued an interim tariff.

Access Copyright's position on the interim tariff:

Michael Geist on Canadian Universities opting-out of Access Copyright: