Five Step Analysis: Step 4

Step 4: Does an exception under the Copyright Act apply to your intended use?

The Copyright Act includes a number of exceptions that support the use of copyright-protected content for specific acts, purposes and user groups. If your use of a work falls within one of the following exceptions, permission to use the content is not required.

  • Fair Dealing

Fair dealing” is a statutory right that allows users to reproduce copyright-protected works for specific purposes when doing so is “fair”. The purpose of fair dealing is to balance the exclusive right of copyright owners with the rights of users to make use of these works in the public interest. When the use of a work can reasonably be considered fair dealing, then no permission will be required.

To help you decide if your use of a work falls under this exception, review the Fair Dealing page.

  • Exceptions for Educational Institutions

The Copyright Act provides a number of specific exceptions for educational institutions, which apply to uses of copyrighted works at the University of Alberta. These include making and sharing copies of works for instruction, examinations, and public performances.  Additional information on these exceptions is available on the For Instructors page of this website.

  • Persons with Perceptual Disabilities

Any member of the university community with a perceptual disability (e.g., one that prevents or inhibits a person from reading or hearing), as well as any person or non-profit organization acting on their behalf, may copy a work protected by copyright into an alternate format specially designed for use by them, such as braille, talking books or sign language. 

This exception does not apply when the work or sound recording is commercially available in a format specially designed to meet the needs of the individual. This exception also does not extend to use of cinematographic works, nor does it authorize the making of a large print book.

More information about how to make use of this specific exception at the U of A is available through Accessibility Resources.

  • Non-Commercial User-Generated Content

An individual may use a legally acquired, copyright-protected work in order to make a new work for non-commercial purposes. The creator of this user-generated content may authorize an intermediary to disseminate their new work, as long as it does not have a substantial adverse effect, financially or otherwise, on the copyright owner of the original work.

Examples include making a home video of a friend or family member dancing to a popular song and posting it online, or creating a "mash-up" of video clips and uploading it to YouTube. Citing the original source(s) and author(s) is required when it is reasonable to do so.


 If your intended use is covered by an exception under the Copyright Act, then no permission is required and you can proceed with your intended use. Otherwise, proceed to Step 5.

Step 5: Asking for Permission.
If you have any questions, please contact the U of A Copyright Office at
Five Step Analysis for Using Copyright-protected Material