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The guide provides information to faculty and students on Canadian copyright and how it pertains to instruction and learning at the College.


What works are covered by copyright?
Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, sound recordings, performances, and communication signals. This includes items such as books, articles, manuals, photographs, graphs, CDs, DVDs, software, databases, and websites.
Works do not need to be published to be covered by copyright. 
See the Copyright Act for more details.

Can I use a substantial part of a copyrighted work?
Please note that just because you acknowledge the author and source of a work doesn’t mean you won’t be liable for copyright infringement. Acknowledging the source is no defence if the way in which you’ve used the work is not permitted under the Copyright Act. So make sure the use falls within an exception such as fair dealing, or get the copyright owner’s permission.

How do I get permission to use a substantial part of a copyrighted work?
If you want to initiate a copyright clearance request, consult with the VCC Copyright Librarian, Virginia Adams,

When do works become part of the public domain?
In Canada, copyright expires and works go into the public domain fifty years after the death of the author; the Copyright Act contains details and exceptions. The 50-year rule applies to the original work; not more recent editions which may include annotations or commentary. The USA and the UK have different laws, and works take 70 years to enter the public domain. 

Copyright in the Classroom

Can I make copies of copyright-protected works to hand out to students in class?
Yes. Under fair dealing you may make copies of another person’s works and hand them out to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing.

Can I include copies of another person’s images and materials in my PowerPoint presentations?
Under fair dealing you may include another person’s work, including images, in your PowerPoint presentations that you display to students enrolled in your course. You must adhere to the amount that may be copied under fair dealing.

Can I include copyrighted material in course packs?
That depends. If the material is from a licensed library database or other e-resource, go into the database and check the Terms of Use to see what is permitted.

The use of small excerpts may be covered under fair dealing.

Contact the copyright librarian if you have any questions or require assistance.

Can I play videos in class?
You may play videos in class in the following circumstances:

  • You may show a film or other cinematographic work in the classroom as long as the work is not an infringing copy; the film or work must be legally obtained, and you must not circumvent a digital lock to access the film or work.
  • If you want to show a television news program in the classroom, under the Copyright Act,educational institutions (or those acting under their authority) may copy television news programs or news commentaries and play them in class.
  • You may perform a work available through the Internet, e.g. YouTube, videos, except under the following circumstances:
    • The work is protected by digital locks preventing their performance
    • A clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use is posted on the website or on the work itself.
    • You have reason to believe that the work available on the internet is in violation of the copyright owner’s rights.

Can I play music in class?
You may play music in your classroom for an audience of students, for educational purposes. Terms are similar to videos (above).

Events such as dances or fitness classes may require a license to play or perform music. 

Copyright Online

Can I copy/use material posted on the Internet?
You, your students, and VCC can, for educational or training purposes, reproduce or communicate or perform publicly available material found on the Internet. The audience must be within VCC.

  • Publicly available means that there were no technological barriers to access the information (password protected, encrypted, etc.).
  • The material must not have a clearly visible notice that prohibits educational use.
  • You must cite the material.

Uses of the material can include:

  • incorporating materials into assignments
  • exchanging materials with instructors and peers
  • reposting a work in Moodle.

If you're uncertain if the amount is within fair dealing, you can always provide students with a link to the original site and ask them to read it there. Please contact VCC's Coordinator, Copyright & Scholarly Communications with any questions. 


I gave a PowerPoint presentation in class which includes figures, charts, diagrams and other images from a textbook. Can I post it on my VCC Moodle course if I cite where the figures came from?
Yes, as long as you adhere to the amounts that may be copied under fair dealing you may post charts and diagrams from textbooks, or other works, in your VCC Moodle course.

  • If you wish to post multiple images from a book, you may do so as long as those images amount to no more than 10% of the book.
  • If you wish to post such material to a website that website must be password protected or otherwise restricted to students enrolled in your course.


Can I post articles or book chapters on my class Moodle site?
You may post the amounts permitted by fair dealing--generally a short excerpt or single article--or the license terms of the database where you obtained the content. The site must be password-protected and restricted to students enrolled in your course.


Linking: Another ways to post electronic books and articles on your Moodle site.
VCC Library has ebooks and electronic journals. Many of these have features allowing you to link directly to a specific article or eBook.  Contact your subject librarian for help with finding and linking to electronic books and articles. 


What about materials I have scanned?
Scanned content from books or elsewhere--whether text, maps, or other images--fall under the same rules as everything else. If they're copyrighted, make sure that the amount and the way you use it is covered by fair dealing. If not, obtain permission from the rights-holder.


Can I post copyrighted material on my personal website?
Putting copyrighted materials on your own publicly-available website will most likely exclude you from fair dealing education exceptions and VCC's licenses with publishers.

VCC's Moodle is password protected and only available to VCC community members, making it an extension of our classrooms.

Copyright for Creators

 Can I, or my students, use copyright protected works to create new content?
Anyone can use copyright protected works to create new content, commonly referred to as a mash-up, as long as the following conditions are met:

  • the work created is used for non-commercial purposes
  • the original work is credited
  • the original work is obtained legally
  • the resulting work does not have a "substantial adverse effect" on the market for the original work

Parts of any number of works can be used and rights are not limited by how few or how many sources are used as long as the above conditions are met. The mash-up may be posted on the World Wide Web.

Does copyright protect students' work? Can I put it on a course page in Moodle?
Student work is protected by copyright upon creation. If the student grants permission by signing a copyright release then you may post work in Moodle.

Exceptions within Copyright Law

What options are there for people with perceptual disabilities?
The Copyright Act allows the creation of alternate formats of copyrighted works, for the use of persons with perceptual disabilities. A person with a perceptual disability may create the accessible copy, or may request someone else to do so. Note that this exemption applies only if there is not a suitable commercially-available work.

What about copying Canadian federal legislation?
Canadian federal legislation, court decisions, and administrative tribunal decisions can be reprinted without permission, as long as you do not represent the work as an official copy (Reproduction of Federal Law Order, SI/97-5).

Note that this means you can copy extensively from legislation, but not from commercially-available versions. For example, distributing copies of the Criminal Code is OK; copying a substantial part of a book like Martin's Annual Criminal Code is not. For the book, the usual fair dealing rules apply.

Can I copy & distribute BC legislation?
Yes! Just don't represent it as an official version, and make sure you follow the terms of the Queen's Printer License

What's the deal with fair dealing?
Fair dealing refers to the right to copy an insubstantial part of a work without having to seek permission or pay fees. Fair dealing requires attribution (credit). See the fair dealing page of this guide for details.

Coordinator, Copyright

Profile Photo
Virginia Adams
Broadway Library

Student consultations
by appointment


The VCC Library Copyright Guide FAQ was developed with help from the SFU Copyright Website and the Waterloo Copyright FAQ.

Content by Vancouver Community College Library is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License