Five Step Analysis: Step 1

Step 1: Is the material protected by copyright?

Copyright protection does not apply to the following:

  •  Facts and Ideas

Copyright does not extend to the facts, ideas, concepts, schemes, formulas, processes, or systems an author may have used when creating a work. Anyone may use the same factual information without infringing copyright.

  • Insubstantial Portions of Works

Copyright holders control use of all or any substantial portion of their works. Copying a quantitatively and qualitatively insubstantial part of a work does not infringe copyright. Read the Substantiality Guidelines for more information. 

  • Hyperlinking to Works

Providing a hyperlink (URL) to a work does not constitute reproduction of the work so there is no infringement of copyright. Linking to the work from its authorized online location, instead of copying and sharing the content, is considered best practice.   

  • Works with Expired Copyright (Public Domain Works)

For most categories of works, the general term of copyright protection in Canada is the life of the author, plus an additional 50 years. Once copyright protection has expired, the content enters the public domain and can be used freely. For more information, see Public Domain.

However, it is important to determine whether the entire work is in the public domain. If you are reproducing public domain material found within a newer publication, copyright may still apply to portions of the newer work. Examples include editorial comments, annotations, diagrams, explanatory glossaries, etc. If you are reproducing this newer material , consider the work as being protected by copyright and proceed with step 2 of the analysis. 

 Additionally, if a public domain work has been translated, the translation is a new copyright-protected work with a term of protection based on the life of the translator.  


 If your use of the material falls into one of the categories noted above, then you can proceed with your intended use. Otherwise, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Is your access to the work through a subscription or purchased licence?



If you have any questions, please contact the U of A Copyright Office at

Five Step Analysis for Using Copyright-protected Material