FAQs, Tips and How-Tos

What is included under the various categories of copyright-protected works?

The categories of copyright-protected works include: "literary", "artistic", "dramatic" or "musical". Since the meaning of these categories may not always coincide with the term's ordinary meaning, the following definitions from the Copyright Act will provide clarity.

A literary work includes tables, computer programs, and compilations of literary works. An artistic work includes paintings, drawings, maps, charts, plans, photographs, engravings, sculptures, works of artistic craftsmanship, architectural works, and compilations of artistic works. A dramatic work includes any piece for recitation, choreographic work or mime, the scenic arrangement or acting form which is fixed in writing or otherwise, any cinematographic work, and any compilation of dramatic works. Finally, a musical work means any work of music or musical composition, with or without words, and includes any compilation thereof.

Selecting Images - Choose Royalty-Free and Educational Use

Whenever possible, consider substituting images that are still under copyright with images that have been made available for public use under terms and conditions that are user-friendly. Download our Copyright Bulletin for a list of URLs to royalty-free, educational use, and open access sites, as well as instructions on how to find reusable images using Google Images Advanced Search feature.

Clarifying the Coursepack Order Process

If you are thinking about assigning a coursepack in an upcoming term, you may find it helpful to know that SUBprint Copy Centre (Edmonton) handles printing and production, while the Copyright Office is responsible for performing the copyright compliance review.

Any questions relating to the production process, such as initiating new and repeat orders, requesting the addition and removal of course readings, may be directed to SUBprint. All questions relating to the inclusion of copyright material and the review process may be sent to the Copyright Help Desk.

When preparing a new coursepack, download and send a completed Copyright Review Form to copyright@ualberta.ca. If we reviewed your coursepack in a previous term, use the finalized form we emailed you following our last review. Once you have made any changes, send the updated form to copyright@ualberta.ca. If you are not sure which form to use or if you would like us to resend your old form, feel free to contact our Help Desk for assistance.

Registering Copyright - Optional or Mandatory?

In Canada, registering a copyright with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) is not a prerequisite for protection of a work under the law. Rather, the economic and moral rights granted under the Copyright Act apply immediately upon creation of an original literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical work. Although not mandatory, many owners choose to register their copyright as doing so does provide advantages.

Additional reading on copyright and the registration process is available in CIPO's online resource "A Guide to Copyright".

What is the Public Domain?

Copyright is a time-allocated right and when it expires, the content to which it once applied is available for use by the public and may be freely shared. Collectively, these copyright-free works are referred to as the "public domain".

In Canada, the general term of copyright is life of the author plus an additional 50 years. In cases of joint-authorship, copyright in a work subsists for 50 years following the death of the last surviving author.

There are some exceptions to the 50-year rule, so use the public domain flowchart to help you assess whether the work you want to use is still under copyright.

Copyright Assignment vs. Licensing

When publishing, you may be asked to transfer or assign your copyright to the publisher, or you may be asked to grant a licence that allows the publisher to use your work under set terms. The type of agreement you sign is significant as it determines whether you are free to use your work in future or whether you need to ask the publisher for permission. This distinction is of particular importance to graduate students who wish to incorporate their published research into a thesis or dissertation.

When granting a licence, check whether you are granting permission on an "exclusive" or "non-exclusive" basis. If a licence is exclusive this means you cannot licence further use of the work to others, whereas a non-exclusive licence has no such limitations.

Assignments, transfers, and exclusive licences must all be in writing to be valid; verbal authorization is sufficient when granting permission on a non-exclusive basis.

Licence Terms for e-Journals now Online

Licence information on how e-journals may be used and shared is now available online. From the UA Libraries homepage, click the "Journal" tab and search for the title of the e-Journal or title of the article you wish to copy and share. The search results will be displayed on the "Get-It" screen; beneath each access option you will see a summary of permitted uses (hint: click each icon for more information). Notice that where one option may allow a particular activity another may not. Ensure you download and share the appropriately licensed version as the "terms of use" are often displayed on the copy you download and share.


Link to UA Libraries e-Collection

Resources available in the UA Libraries digital e-holdings (i.e. online journals, e-books, databases, newspapers, image collections, etc.) are acquired under licence or subscription and the terms of these agreements govern use. While some agreements allow copying and sharing, many do not. Avoid restrictions by providing other CCID holders with a persistent (static) link to the original source. Instructions on how to create a persistent link are available here.

Think Link

As an alternative to copying and sharing material available online, consider providing others with hyperlinks to the original source. Why? Sharing a link does not create an additional copy and if there is no copy made, there is no copyright issue.