Documentation:Guide to Teaching for New Faculty at UBC/Resource 9: Copyright

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The Canadian Copyright Act protects authors’ works in order to enable them to earn a living from their publications. The following terms will give you an idea of what you are allowed to copy and how copyright is managed.

For more information, please visit

Public Domain

The term “public domain” refers to works in which the copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that they will not assert copyright in the work and that it is their intention that the work should be in the public domain.

For example, although copyright in Shakespeare’s plays expired long ago, many of the published editions of his plays contain added original materials (such as annotations, translations, footnotes, prefaces etc.) that are copyright protected because the authors have used skill and judgment in creating the new material. This creates a new copyright in the additional original works, but not in the underlying text of the original work in which the copyright has expired.

Never assume that everything you find on the internet is in the public domain just because it is publicly available. Most of the material that you find online is protected by copyright. When copying online materials, you should confirm whether your proposed copying is permitted within the fair dealing exception, under the educational exceptions within the Copyright Act, or is specifically permitted by the copyright owner, under the website’s ‘Terms of Use’, or ‘Legal Notices’ section.[1]

Fair Dealing

The Copyright Act provides a fair dealing exception that allows faculty, staff and students to make single copies of copyrighted material for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review or news in circumstances where the consent of the copyright owner has not been secured or not required under this exception.

UBC has 2 separate Fair Dealing Guidelines that cover activities by the UBC Community and the UBC Library. For more information, please visit:

The Creative Commons

This new online system allows copyright owners to decide what constitutes fair dealing for their particular work. They may only request attribution in the use of their work, or they may restrict commercial use of their work.

Find out more at

Open Access Journals

This online system allows you to “use, read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts” of the articles they contain. Through this directory, you have access to a range of research to help you in preparing your courses.

Find out more at


For a more comprehensive list of questions, please visit:

1. What if I want to prepare a package of reading material for each student in my class?

Permission is required for copyrighted material that is printed in a course pack. Some material may be covered by licences that the Library has for electronic resources. Such licences allow you to provide students with a direct link to the full-text of the article and, in some cases, allow you include a printed copy in a course pack. The UBC Bookstore’s course pack staff will obtain permission for you.

Any materials that you would like to include in course packs are assessed by the UBC Bookstore staff for copyright clearance requirements. This includes materials from the internet, government publications, and unpublished works, not just books and journals. Providing details such as book/journal title, web address, author name, ISBN/ISSN number, page range and total number of pages in a book will help to confirm permission more quickly. If you have any questions about copyright materials you would like to include, email the Bookstore:

For more information, please visit:

2. What if I want to copy more than the license allows?

When you place your order, the UBC Bookstore staff can assess what copyright clearance maybe required. Please indicate how much of the copyright material you want to use and UBC Bookstore staff will obtain the necessary permissions.

3. What if I only want to distribute a handout?

You may make copies to hand out to your students only if you have received permission from the copyright owner. Under the Copyright Act, making multiple copies for your students would not be allowed under the fair dealing exception. The fair dealing exception allows one to make single copies only. If you want to provide articles or excerpts from a book to students on a regular basis, for example, every year that you teach the course, and you know what articles or excerpts you want to include in advance, you should consider creating a course pack.

Note, however, that it is generally acceptable to make print copies for students from electronic resources licensed by the UBC Library. For more information about appropriate use of these electronic resources see:

If in doubt, or if you have questions about a particular resource, please contact

4. What is the protocol for selling coursepacks to cover the copying costs?

A record must be kept when photocopied material is sold. Access Copyright will be paid a pre-set amount--currently 4.5 cents for most works--for each page copied in order to cover royalty payments to the copyright holder. This amount is included in the price of the course pack when it is sold to students.

When made for sale, all copies must bear the following copyright credit to show they were produced under license: ©; publisher name; and (where known) artist, illustrator or author name(s). They must also prominently display this notice: This material has been copied under license from Access Copyright. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited.

5. Do I need to keep a record if I am not selling the material I copy?

Yes. UBC pays an annual fee to Access Copyright to cover royalties for copyright holders, but an eLog (found on the Access Copyright website) must be completed for all materials used and submitted through the University.

6. Can I include an e-journal article in my coursepack?

Not necessarily. Some copyright holders will grant users permission to put information on password-secured websites, like UBC’s learning management systems, but not to put the information in print format. Coursepacks must confirm permission separately, even if the information is already secured for an LMS.

UBC Bookstore staff will obtain the necessary permissions for you.

7. Do I need permission to use an e-journal article in class if it is not part of a coursepack?

No. Downloading an article from an online journal for private study or research is considered “fair dealing” under the Copyright Act.

Depending on the e-journal license negotiated with the UBC Library, sharing the article with your students might be restricted to certain ways. For more information about appropriate use of these electronic resources see:

It is generally advisable to send the permanent URL of the e-journal article to students instead of making copies or distributing copies. For more information, please visit:

8. What if I am the author of an article I want to include in my coursepack?

If you have signed a contract with a journal’s publisher, then the publisher has ownership of copyright, and it must be logged.

9. Can I show a video to my class?

It depends. You can play videos in class in the following circumstances:

  • If your video has public performance rights included – UBC Library purchases some videos that come with the right to play the video in class. If the video you want to show comes with these rights, you can play it in class. See the UBC Library’s Guide to Videos, Films and DVDs.
  • If you want to show a television news program – Under the Copyright Act, educational institutions, or those acting under their authority, can copy television news programs and play them in class to students provided it is done within a year of the program being aired. However, documentaries and films are not covered by this exception.
  • If you want to show a film or documentary – UBC has licences with two major film distributors which allows instructors to show certain licensed films in class provided records are kept and reported. However, the licences only cover certain feature films and not documentaries. To determine if a feature film is covered by the UBC licences, search the online catalogues of the two distributors covered by the UBC Licences: Audio-Cine [ and Criterion Pictures
  • If you only want to show an excerpt from a video – This may be covered by fair dealing if you show it for the purposes of research, private study, criticism or review and the showing would be considered “fair” under the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

If you wish to copy television broadcasts that are not news or current events programs, or play a copy of a news or current event program more than a year after it was broadcast, or want to show a documentary or film in class, you should contact Media Booking for more information.