fb pixel


University of Winnipeg Copyright Policy

The University of Winnipeg's Copyright Policy came into effect in the fall of 2016 when it was passed by University Administration.  The Policy, which supersedes the previous Fair Dealing Policy, expands upon the Fair Dealing guidelines outlined in the former Policy to include additional information regarding the use of copyright-protected materials by University staff, students, and other persons in the course of their association with the University.

View the Copyright Policy

View the Copyright Policy Procedures

For more information regarding the Copyright Policy and the use of copyright-protected materials at the University of Winnipeg, please contact the Copyright Office.  

Canadian Copyright Act

Copyright Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42 Consolidated with S.C. 2012, c. 20 (Bill C-11)

Copyright Modernization Act, S.C. 2012, c. 20 (Bill C-11)

Definition of Copyright

A very basic definition of copyright is the right to copy.  Copyright is a type of intellectual property, covering intellectual and artistic works.  Other types of intellectual property include patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and integrated circuit topographies.

Copyright consists of the economic and moral rights of creators.  Copyright allows the owner exclusive rights to produce or reproduce a substantial part of a work in any form (subject to users' rights), as well as other rights, such as performance of the work.  These are termed 'economic rights.'  Copyright is a bundle of rights that may either be exercised by the owner or licensed or assigned wholly or individually to another party.  For example, a playwright may grant a license to a theatre company to perform their play, or license the work to be published in another language, or even assign these rights entirely to another party. 

In addition to economic rights, the Copyright Act includes rights which cannot be assigned (but may be waived) termed 'moral rights.'  Moral rights include attribution and integrity.  Attribution gives the author the right to always be identified with a work, or to remain anonymous, or to use a pseudonym.  Integrity is the right not to have a work modified or associated with goods or services in a way which is prejudicial to the author's reputation. 

The most well-known case involving infringement of moral rights is Snow v. The Eaton Centre Ltd. (1982) (Ontario High Court of Justice), in which prominent Canadian artist Michael Snow successfully sued the Toronto Eaton Centre.  Snow's sculpture in Eaton Centre consists of dozens of sculpted Canada geese in flight.  One Christmas, Eaton Centre bedecked the geese sculpture with seasonal decorations.  These decorations were found by the court to distort and modify the sculpture to the prejudice of the artist's honour or reputation and so ordered them removed.

Copyright also includes users' rights.  These rights include fair dealing for the purposes of research, private study, news reporting, criticism, review, education, satire, and parody.  Further, there are many other user rights or exceptions including the educational use of the Internet, classroom-use of films and/or musical recordings without public performance rights, and the creation of non-commercial user-generated content.      

Automatic Protection

While it is possible to register copyright in a work through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, registration is not necessary for a work to be considered protected.  Original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, as well as sound recordings, performances, and communication signals are automatically protected by copyright.  Facts, ideas, and data cannot be copyrighted.  Typically, 'fixation,' either on paper or as a digital file, is a requirement for copyright to subsist in a work.  The fixation requirement is in keeping with the principle that ideas themselves may not be copyrighted, only the expression of the ideas.  Notable exceptions to the fixation rule include a 'performer's performance,' such as a play or a musical performance that are not in a fixed form (that is, recorded) but are nonetheless covered by copyright. 


Attribution Required

Attribution refers to the act of identifying a person as the creator of a work.  Based on copyright law and on academic protocols within the University, attributing, or citing a source, or providing bibliographic information is required when taking short excerpts from copyright-protected works for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody.  


Copyright Expiration

Copyright protection arises automatically when an artistic or intellectual work is created and generally continues for 50 years after the author's death.  However the term of copyright protection can vary based on the type of work and when it was first published.  When you want to use a particular work, the safest approach is to assume the work is copyright-protected unless there is a clear indication to the contrary or the author has been dead for at least 50 years.  Works are then considered to be in the public domain.

Please note that the Canadian Federal Government's Budget 2022 promises to extend the term of copyright from the international standard of the life of the creator plus 50 years to life plus 70 years.  This may have serious ramifications for works that use materials that fall in between these periods.

In the U.S. and Europe copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years, though it can differ depending on factors such as the type of work, the manner of publication, and the date of creation.  Use of a work in Canada is governed by the Canadian rules for the duration of copyright protection.  

Works in the Public Domain

Works are deemed to be in the public domain when the copyright has expired or where the copyright owner has made a clear declaration that they will not assert copyright in the work.  

However, even a work with an obviously expired copyright, such as a Shakespeare play, may contain added original materials, such as commentaries or footnotes, which are copyright-protected.  

Works available on the Internet are no exception to copyright rules.  Most are copyright-protected and not in the public domain.  When using online materials, you should make sure your purpose falls within the educational use of the Internet or fair dealing provisions.  If the online content is encoded or encrypted or clearly states that educators cannot use it, then permissions must be sought.  

Sites listing public domain works include Project Gutenberg Canada and Project Gutenberg.  

Creative Commons

There is a wealth of material out there which is either in the public domain or available under what is known as Creative Commons licensing, which generally means the work is available for free subject to certain conditions, such as non-commercial use and acknowledgement of the creator.  

For Creative Commons materials, visit the Creative Commons website to check out their content directories listing audio, video, image, and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing.  

Linking to a Website

Providing an Internet link to a website does not constitute the creation of a copy and does not require permission.


International Copyright Protection

Copyright is recognized internationally thanks to international conventions, meaning, copyright will generally be protected in other countries.  Copyright is, however, protected under a given country's laws and, as a result, there may be some differences from the level of protection provided by Canadian copyright.  

Copyright laws in the United States are generally different from those in Canada.  The U.S. provision known as 'fair use' is not to be confused with the Canadian 'fair dealing.'  If you are from the U.S. or are collaborating with a U.S. researcher, you should keep in mind the distinction that the rules which apply to the copyrighted material you intend to use or create may differ depending on where you want to use them.

Persistent Links

What is a persistent link?

Persistent links are links to specific web pages or web resources that remain stable over time.  Persistent links go by a number of names, including permalink, permanent link, permanent URL, persistent URL, PURL, durable link, or durable URL.

Many are unaware that links, especially with subscription and licensed content systems or similar account-based systems, are often session-based and only work for the duration of your search session.  If you try to access a session-based link after you navigate away from the page or a few hours later, you will get an error message instead of the page or resource you were expecting.  

Why should I use a persistent link?

Linking to a resource means that you are not making a copy of it.  You are simply pointing to an item and are less likely to be infringing on copyright or violating licence agreements.  Persistent links are a preferred method for you to share resources with others.

The link displayed in a web browser's address bar after a search is performed is not necessarily persistent (i.e. bookmarkable), because it may incorporate passwords or session variables, which expire once the browser is closed.

Testing your link's persistence

A good way to test the URL is to bookmark the page, close all browser windows, re-open the browser, and check the bookmark to ensure you can still get to the resource.  

Illustrations of persistent linking.


Private Faculty Websites

Private faculty websites are not an extension of the University of Winnipeg nor does the University authorize such sites for students.  The educational institutions user rights benefits in the Copyright Act and the University's Copyright Policy do not apply to content on private faculty websites.

Where faculty create private websites for student-use they are advised to ensure one of the following:

  • the content is owned by the faculty member;
  • the faculty member has written permission from the copyright owner to use the content in this way;
  • the content qualifies as public domain; or
  • the content links to other website content, provided it is not a link to any of the University of Winnipeg Library e-resources

To ensure copyright-compliance, faculty and instructors can use the Library's Course Reserve and/or Syllabus Service to provide students with course material.