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Copyright: Copying Guidelines (Print & Digital)

Can I Use It?

This flowchart illustrates a step-by-step process to determine whether or not you can copy or communicate a copyright-protected work.  This process applies to both print and digital materials (text, video, images, etc.),  and to the use of these materials in the classroom or in an online learning management system (Blackboard). In all cases, cite your work.

Steps are explained in more detail below the flowchart.  For a quick reference document, download the UFV Copying Guidelines Summary:



Can I use it?

1. Is the work publicly available on the internet?

Under the Copyright Act (30.04), educational institutions are allowed to copy internet content if the following conditions are met:

  • There is no clearly visible copyright notice posted that specifically prohibits copying for educational use.  Standard copyright notices (i.e. the copyright symbol  ©) on webpages do not restrict your ability to use content under this exception.
  • The content is legitimately posted (you have no reason to believe that it is online without the consent of the copyright owner).
  • There is no password protection or other restricted access to the content.
  • You cite the source (URL and the author/creator, if available).

To avoid copyright infringement, the best practice is to link to the site rather than download anything from it.  If in doubt, link it out.

2. Does UFV have a license for it?

UFV has obtained permission for its faculty and staff to copy materials (online articles, e-books, images, DVDs and videos) under various license agreements.  You may also have entered individually into such licenses (i.e. iTunes, Netflix).  Check for a license by journal or database.  If you need assistance, contact the Copyright Librarian.

Please note that if the license does not permit use in a specific context, you must skip to the end of the flowchart and consider alternatives (#4 below).

If there is no license, you may be able to use the work through fair dealing or other educational exceptions (#3 below).

3. Is copying the work permitted under the Copyright Act?

Exceptions under the Copyright Act permit certain things to be done by educational institutions that would otherwise infringe copyright. 

A.  The Fair Dealing exception is the most important exception.  It allows you to copy short excerpts of works for educational purposes.  See the Fair Dealing Requirements to find out if your copying qualifies for this exception.

B.  Copying of Canadian legislative materials: You can copy and communicate the text of federal, provincial, and territorial statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions for educational purposes from every province and territory, except Manitoba, Quebec, and Nunavut.  Any works published by the Government of Canada can also be copied for educational purposes.

C.  Copying for tests and examinations:  Under the Copyright Act (29.4(2) and (3)), you can copy, translate, communicate electronically or perform any work for a test or examination, provided the work is not already commercially available.

D.  Copying for persons with perceptual disabilities:  Under the Copyright Act (32), you can convert a work to a format suitable for the needs of an individual with a perceptual disability, as long as the work is not available commercially in an appropriate format.  This exception does not extend to video works or the creation of large-print works in paper format.

E.  Copying for display in class: You can copy and display works in class for educational purposes (i.e. copying works to include in PowerPoint presentations, or showing images or videos in class), provided the work is not already commercially available in the required format. 

F.  The Non-commercial User-Generated Content (UGC) exception: Under the Copyright Act (29.21), anyone can copy copyrighted materials (i.e. music, photos, text, etc.) in the creation of new, original works.  The following conditions apply: The new work cannot be used for commercial purposes; the source work(s) should be acknowledged; the source work must have been acquired legally; the new work cannot be seen to have a "substantial adverse affect" on the market for the source work. Examples include using copyrighted music in the background of a home video, or creating a "mash-up" video of multiple clips and posting them online.

Other educational exceptions are discussed in the sections covering the recording of TV and radio programs, and playing audio and video recordings.

If you determine that your use does not fall into any of the exceptions, you may be able to get permission to use the work from the copyright holder (#4 below).

4. Can I get permission?

You may choose to seek permission yourself - by contacting the copyright owner directly - or by contacting the Copyright Librarian who will seek permission through the Copyright Clearance Center.  Payment of fees is the responsibility of the requesting department.

If the copyright owner agrees to your request, the permission to copy the work will generally come by way of a one-off transaction license agreement between UFV and the copyright owner.  There is no obligation for the copyright holder to grant your request, and the copyright holder may require payment of a license fee.

If permission is not forthcoming, you will need to seek alternatives:


If it is a physical item, use course reserves

If it is a digital item, create a link to it (or let us do it for you with our course reserve e-readings)

Use a different source(s), such as a work licensed by the Library or with an Open Access license


For more information on seeking permission, see Permissions.

The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land), therefore we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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