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Copyright Guidelines

These copyright guidelines provide general information on permitted copying practices at the University of Guelph. For more information and related U of G policies and guidelines see:

Canada’s Copyright Act applies to all works, in all formats, whether or not copyright has been officially registered. Books, journals, software, films, charts, diagrams, images, letters, maps, graphs, models, photographs, music, sound recordings, works of art, websites, and videos are all subject to copyright, as is the wide range of content found on the internet. 

Copyright protection exists automatically for every work that is created, whether or not it is explicitly stated on the work or marked with the © symbol; protection generally remains in effect until 50 years after the death of the author or creator.

All universities and libraries in Canada are required to comply with Canadian copyright law. In practical terms, this means that any copying of materials by University faculty, staff, or students, regardless of format, is subject to certain limits and restrictions.

The use of copyrighted works at the University of Guelph is enabled by:

  • The terms of the Copyright Act, which contains a fair dealing exception as well as numerous educational exceptions.
  • The terms of license agreements with the publishers of e-journals, e-books, and other licensed resources, or of open licenses such as Creative Commons.
  • Terms of use on websites and web services.
  • Permissions secured from authors, publishers, and other copyright owners as required.


The Copyright Act contains several provisions for copying works without the consent of the copyright owner or the payment of royalties. These "exceptions" allow non-profit libraries, educational institutions, and individuals to make copies within reasonable limits. For example, the "fair dealing" exception permits an individual to copy, without permission, a short excerpt of a copyrighted work for the purpose of private study, research, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, or satire. Other exceptions in the Act permit: copying for display in the classroom, copying for tests or exams, classroom performances of works, copying for individuals with perceptual disabilities, copying of news programs for classes, and the use of publicly available internet materials. Each of these exceptions is subject to specific limitations, however. Copying which falls outside of the fair dealing exception, and which is not covered by other educational exceptions in the Copyright Act, may be infringing if done without the permission of the copyright owner.

A general guide to copying in an educational context, Copyright at the University Guelph (PDF - 120kb), has been posted at photocopying, printing, and scanning equipment in the library and throughout campus. For more detailed information, please review the University's Fair Dealing Policy and the Copyright Act.  

Copyright infringement

Members of the university community who engage in prohibited copying could be in violation of the Copyright Act. Making infringing copies may result in claims which could have serious financial implications for the university and potentially, for individuals.  If you are a member of the university community and you receive notice from a copyright owner alleging infringement of copyright, immediately contact Amanda Etches, Acting University Librarian, 519-824-4120 extension 52159, or send an email etches@uoguelph.ca.

Copying and printing in the library

You are permitted to make copies of copyright-protected works using the university's copying, scanning, and printing equipment, provided your copying complies with one of the following conditions:   

  • The copying is allowed under an exception in Canada’s Copyright Act, such as the fair dealing exception, or one of several educational exceptions. 
  • The work being copied has a license that authorizes your copying, such as a Creative Commons license, or an e-journal oe-book license as displayed in Omni.
  • The amount being copied is an insubstantial portion of the work, for example a short quotation.
  • The work being copied is in the public domain, meaning it is no longer protected by copyright in Canada.
  • The copyright owner has given permission for the copying. 

In other words, unless you have permission from the copyright owner, or are authorized under the terms of a license, you will need to ensure that your copying falls within the limits outlined in the Copyright Act. To assist you in understanding what you can copy, a copying guidelines poster, Copyright at the University Guelph (PDF - 120kb), has been posted at photocopiers, scanners, and printers throughout the University. Also consult the University's Fair Dealing Policy which provides guidance on copying permitted under the fair dealing exception.

Copies provided via document delivery or digitization request services

Copies of articles or documents provided through the library's document delivery and digitization request services are made in accordance with the Canadian Copyright Act, as well as the University's Fair Dealing Policy, and the terms of any relevant license agreements.

Generally, this means an individual may request a single copy of one article from one journal issue, or more than one article, provided the total number of pages does not exceed 10% of the issue. If the request exceeds these limits, the requestor will be advised that the request cannot be filled.

The requestor must agree to a statement indicating that the materials received will be used for the purpose of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, parody, or satire and that the requestor has not previously received a copy of the article/document being requested.

Copying for course reserves

Copies of articles, book chapters and other materials may be placed on course reserve using the Ares Course Reserve system. Course Reserve staff will obtain and pay for copyright permission for copies that exceed the limits of the Fair Dealing Policy  When submitting requests please allow sufficient lead time for materials that require permission.

Copying for instructional purposes

Under the University’sFair Dealing Policy, instructors may copy and communicate -in paper or electronic form- short excerpts of copyright-protected works, and may provide a copy to each student enrolled in a class or course, either as a class handout or by posting to a course management system such as CourseLink. A short excerpt is considered to be up to 10% of a copyright-protected work, one chapter from a book, or a single article from a periodical. For more information about what can be copied for instructional purposes under fair dealing, consult our Copyright FAQ.

As an alternative to making copies, instructors may also post links to library e-journals, e-books, streaming media, and other electronic resources either directly to CourseLink or by submitting them to the Ares Course Reserve system.

Copying from e-journals, e-books and other library licensed electronic resources

The library contracts with a variety of vendors and publishers to provide users with thousands of electronic resources (databases, e-journals, e-books, streaming media, etc.) costing millions of dollars per year. Making copies from these resources is governed by the terms of the licenses negotiated with individual publishers and vendors. For more information about acceptable uses of the library's electronic resources, see the library's Acceptable Use of Online Resources policy. Usage terms for specific journals, e-books andatabases are displayed in their respective records in Omni. 

Copying from audiovisual and multimedia materials

The library houses media in physical formats (such as CDs and DVDs) and also subscribes to collections of streaming media.  

Some media streaming platforms enable clips to be made from films in their collections. Music databases may also enable playlists to be created.  Other types of copying from streaming media will depend on the terms of the relevant license.  

Media in physical formats can be copied under the Fair Dealing Policy as long as any technological protection measures attached to the work are not removed or circumvented in order to make the copies. Using screen capture to make copies that are allowable under the Fair Dealing Policy is permitted, however. 

Public performance licenses are not required when screening films or videos in a classroom setting for an educational purpose but may be required for recreational screenings such as in a club, meeting room, cafeteria, or other public setting.  

If films and videos are required for courses offered remotely, the library can assist with converting analog formats such as DVDs and CDs to streaming files. Permissions will be obtained as required, or in some cases, the videos can be converted using an exception in the Copyright Act. Instructors can submit requests to the Ares Course Reserve system when they wish to have audiovisual content streamed for use in courses. 


Contact us.

The library is committed to ensuring that members of our user community with disabilities have equal access to our services and resources and that their dignity and independence is always respected. If you encounter a barrier and/or need an alternate format, please fill out our Library Print and Multimedia Alternate-Format Request Form. Contact us if you’d like to provide feedback: lib.a11y@uoguelph.ca