Copyright at Georgian

Library & Academic Success Copyright Team

Library & Academic Success Copyright Team

Library &<br/>Academic Success



This guide was designed solely for informational purposes for Georgian College students, faculty & staff.

All other users are encouraged to check and confirm the information with their institution.

This site is prepared by library staff and is not reviewed by legal counsel.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is the right to copy or reproduce a legally protected work. Copyright law protects creators' rights while allowing users some rights to copy or reproduce a legally protected work. 

In Canada, a work is automatically protected by copyright once it becomes fixated (saved, printed, written, drawn, etc.).  Copyright protection exists whether or not a copyright symbol appears on the work.


Video Source: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. (2016). What is a copyright? (Canada) [Video]. YouTube. . 

Canada's  Copyright Act  defines

  • what is protected by copyright,
  • the protection for the different types of works under copyright,
  • the rights of those who create the works,
  • the rights of those who use those works and
  • all the ways in which the works can be copied, shared and used

Included in the Act are legal exceptions to Copyright such as Fair Dealing and other exceptions specific to academic institutions and libraries.

What does Copyright protect? 

Copyright protects literary and artistic creations such as: 

  • Literary works: books, pamphlets, other works consisting of text
  • Dramatic works: motion picture films, plays, screenplays, scripts
  • Musical works: compositions with or without words
  • Artistic works: paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, sculptures, plans, blueprints
  • Digital works: Software, computer code, websites

Copyright does not protect ideas, procedures, mathematical concepts or facts!

Who owns Copyright?

Authors or creators of Copyrighted works have both economic and moral rights.

  • Authors:
    The owner of copyright is often the author of the work. The author can sell, licence, transfer or give away their copyright in its entirety or in parts.  When permission to use the copyrighted material is needed, only the author or the present copyright owner can grant this permission.
  • Employers or Publishers:
    In some cases, it may be an organization or company that is the copyright owner, if the author was employed by a company or under contract to create the work.  Publishing or other contracts may transfer copyright ownership rights to a publisher.  In either of these cases, the employer or the publisher would be the copyright owner, not the original author/creator.
  • Other Creators:
    Depending on the medium of the creation, the copyright owner may be the performer, the maker, the broadcaster, the creator or the purchaser. 

Economic and Moral Rights

Economic rights include the right to produce, reproduce, publish, distribute, perform or sell their works. Moral rights can be waived but cannot be transfer to another person or given away. Moral rights include:

  1. The right to be anonymous or use a pseudonym.

  2. The right to prevent distortion, mutilation or modification of your work.

  3. The right to be credited for your work or not.

What is Copying?

Copying includes all forms of reproduction including: 

  • photocopying
  • printing
  • photographing
  • taking a screen capture
  • scanning
  • downloading 

It can also mean to share, perform and recreate. 

What is the Public Domain?

The Public Domain refers to works are no longer protected by copyright - they now belong to the public.  

In Canada, copyright lasts the lifetime of the author + 70 years*. After this period, the work enters the public domain and can be used free of charge by others without the need to request permission. Some examples of content that are in the Public Domain include the text of Shakespeare's original plays and the original Winnie-the-Pooh character (not the Disney version, with red shirt),

Sources of content for works that are in the Public Domain:

  • The Internet Archive: a non-profit collection of public domain books, movies, software, music, webs and more. 
  • Project Gutenberg:  one of the largest collections of works in the Public Domain.

We recommend that you always cite your source - even if the work is found in the Public Domain!

*NEW: As of December 30, 2022, the duration of Copyright in Canada has been adjusted to 70 years after the author's death.

Additional Reading & Resources

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