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Copyright & Licenses: Selected Tools for Navigating the Information Environment: 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.

© @ VIU

Universities are both creators and users of content and seek a fair and balanced approach to copyright that rewards creators for their work and allows students access to knowledge. Primarily through Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) and Universities Canada, Vancouver Island University and other universities and colleges advocate for several important issues related to copyright law reform and higher education.

An umbrella agreement between CICan and Access Copyright has been in place since 2012, representing the interests of participating colleges and select universities - including VIU – with respect to copyright tariffs. VIU’s Access Copyright Licence Agreement can be viewed here.