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Michael Byun, Manager, Bookstores

Tim Paul, Manager, Academic Technology Services.
Responsible for Audio/Visual Recording and online content used for instructional purposes.

Katharine Shipley, Associate Director of Learning Resources.
Responsible for copyright in relation to use of Library print and digital collections.

Debra Flewelling, Open Education Librarian.

Copyright FAQ

‚ÄčThe following information is meant to provide general copyright information and answers to commonly asked questions. It is not legal advice and should not be construed as a substitute for seeking out legal advice.

1. What is copyright?

Copyright protects all original literary, artistic, dramatic, and musical works, including computer programs, translated works, compilations of other's works, sound recordings, and performances.

Copyright is automatic and applies as soon as a work is in a fixed form, whether digital or analog.  

Generally (but not always), the author of the work is the first copyright owner – although they may give away or sell their copy rights to another individual or an organization. The copyright owner controls if and how the work is produced, copied, performed, published, adapted, translated etc.  

The rights of the copyright owner, however, are subject to certain user rights, which permit the use of copyright protected works in certain circumstances, without payment or permission from the copyright owner. 

In Canada, copyright is governed by the Copyright Act, Canadian case law, and International copyright treaties. 


2. What is protected under copyright law?

Copyright protects all original literary, artistic, dramatic, and musical work, including computer programs, translated works, compilations of other's works, sound recordings, and performances. 


Always assume a work is protected by copyright, unless there is clear indication otherwise. A work may still be protected by copyright even if there is no copyright symbol displayed. 

Copyright in Canada is automatic and applies to all works as soon as they are in a 'fixed' form, whether digital or analog. For example, a note written on a piece of paper or saved to a computer's hard drive is automatically protected by copyright. 

Registering a work with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and using the copyright symbol © are not necessary for works to be protected by copyright (although it is highly encouraged). 

In Canada, most works are protected by copyright for the life of the creator + 50 years (the 'life+50' rule).


4. What is the 'public domain'?

The public domain refers to works that have no copyright, either because copyright has expired or the copyright owner purposely published the work directly in the public domain.

Public domain resources can be used by anyone, for any purpose, without needing to obtain permission. 


5. What is copyright infringement?

Infringement occurs when someone who is not the copyright owner uses a copyright protected work in a way only the copyright owner is entitled to do, and does so without permission from the copyright owner.

Civil and criminal penalties can be imposed for copyright infringement.

Individuals at Douglas College are responsible for their own copyright use and ensuring they do not infringe other's copyright.


In Canada, most copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years (the 'life+70' rule). For example, if an author dies February 4th, 1962, their work enters the public domain on December 31, 2012. Because of the 2022 change to Public Domain in Canada from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author, no new works will enter the Public Domain until 2043.

For sound recordings, lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years ('life+70'). 


7. What are 'user's rights'?

Copyright in Canada is a bundle of rights, some of which belong to the owner and some to the user. The bundle of rights balances the rights of copyright holders with the needs of copyright users.  

User's rights include Educational exceptions in the Copyright Act, that allow the use of copyright protected works for specific circumstances without payment or permission from the copyright owner. 


8. Can I use someone else's work without infringing copyright? 

Yes. If the work is in the public domain or covered by an open license (ex. Creative Commons), then it is possible to use someone elses work without permission and not infringe their copy rights. 

You may also use user's rights in the Copyright Act. User's rights allow the reuse of other's works in particular situations, without payment or permission from the copyright holder. 

If the above two situations do not apply, you need to obtain permission to use the work. 


Douglas College Library resources are subject to license agreements that take precedent over copyright law.

The library subscribes to a wide range of electronic resources, including online journals, e-books, and streaming films. These resources are purchased or leased under license agreements (contracts) with publishers and other content providers. The terms of these agreements can vary widely.

See Licensed materials for more information.


10. Who can help me get permission to use copyright protected materials?

The Douglas College community is responsible for acquiring their own copyright permissions. For help with the process, please contact


11. What counts as making a 'copy' of a work?

Anytime you use someone's work, whether all of the work or a portion of the work, you have to ask yourself if another copy is being made. If another copy is made, it could be violating copyright. 

Examples of creating an additional copy of a resource include:

  • Scanning
  • Photocopying
  • Downloading a PDF
  • Sending a file over email
  • Saving an image from the internet to your computer

All of the above actions could violate someone's copy rights if done without permission from the copyright owner or under a user's right in the Copyright Act


12. What are moral rights?

There are three moral rights that protect the reputation of a creator and the integrity of a work:

  • Attribution - the right to claim authorship for the work
  • Integrity - the right to oppose changes to the work that could harm the owner's reputation
  • Association - the right to control activities associated with the work

Moral rights can be waived but cannot be assigned or licensed to others. Once moral rights are waived they cannot be reinstated. 


13. Who owns the copy rights to work I create at Douglas? (Faculty)

According to Article 5 in the Common Agreement and the Collective Agreement Letter of Understanding #5, Douglas College faculty own the copyright to works prepared or created as part of assigned duties, including: 

  • Creative work
  • Instructional strategies
  • Curriculum/instructional material
  • Software or any other material or technology

The employer (Douglas College) owns copyright where one or more employees: 

  • Have been hired or agrees to create and produce copyrightable work product for the institution
  • Are given release time from usual duties to create and produce copyrightable work product
  • Are paid, in addition to their regular rate of pay, for their time in an appointment to produce copyrightable work product


14. Who owns the copy rights to work I create at Douglas? (Staff)

All works created in the following ways are owned by the College, unless otherwise agreed in writing the College:

  • In the course of a the employee's employment with the College
  • With the use of College materials
  • Through the use of College funds
  • With technical or clerical assistance provided by the College

Staff are encouraged to discuss with the College President before beginning work in which they desire to own copyright, such as collaborating in the authorship of textbooks or other educational materials in their own fields. 


15. Who owns the copy rights to work I create at Douglas? (Students)

Students own the copyright on works they create (including assignments they submit to faculty for evaluation.) Students have the right to approve the reproduction and distribution of their work. Faculty must obtain a student's permission to

  • Post their work on a course or personal website
  • Publish their work in a college publication


The information in this resource should not be considered legal advice. The purpose of this guide is to provide Douglas College students and faculty with general information about copyright.


Text for many of the FAQs was adapted from the University of British Columbia's Copyright FAQs, which were originally adapted from Waterloo Copyright FAQ by the University of Waterloo, licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC 2.5 CA License and University of Saskatchewan Copyright by the University of Saskatchewan, licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 License. UBC's FAQs are licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 License with permission from the University of Saskatchewan.