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Copyright @ NSCC

Copyright information for NSCC faculty, staff and students.

What is Fair Dealing?

Fair Dealing Guidelines

The fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act permits use of a copyright-protected work without permission from the copyright owner or the payment of copyright royalties. To qualify for fair dealing, two tests must be passed. 

First, the “dealing” must be for a purpose stated in the Copyright Act: research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody. Educational use of a copyright-protected work passes the first test.   

The second test is that the dealing must be “fair.” In landmark decisions in 2004 and in 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada provided guidance as to what this test means in schools and post-secondary educational institutions. 

These guidelines apply fair dealing in non-profit K–12 schools and postsecondary educational institutions and provide reasonable safeguards for the owners of copyright-protected works in accordance with the Copyright Act and the Supreme Court decisions.


  1. Teachers, instructors, professors, and staff members in non-profit educational institutions may communicate and reproduce, in paper or electronic form, short excerpts from a copyright-protected work for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody.
  1. Copying or communicating short excerpts from a copyright-protected work under these Fair Dealing Guidelines for the purpose of news reporting, criticism, or review should mention the source and, if given in the source, the name of the author or creator of the work. 
  1. A single copy of a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work may be provided or communicated to each student enrolled in a class or course:
  1. as a class handout;
  2. as a posting to a learning- or course-management system that is password protected or otherwise restricted to students of a school or postsecondary educational institution;
  3. as part of a course pack.
  1. A short excerpt means:
  1. up to 10 per cent of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work);
  2. one chapter from a book;
  3. a single article from a periodical;
  4. an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works;
  5. an entire newspaper article or page;
  6. an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores;
  7. an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary, or similar reference work.
  1. Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright-protected work with the intention of copying or communicating substantially the entire work is prohibited. 
  1. Copying or communicating that exceeds the limits in these Fair Dealing Guidelines may be referred to a supervisor or other person designated by the educational institution for evaluation. An evaluation of whether the proposed copying or communication is permitted under fair dealing will be made based on all relevant circumstances. 
  1. Any fee charged by the educational institution for communicating or copying a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work must be intended to cover only the costs of the institution, including overhead costs.


The Supreme Court of Canada has established a two step test for evaluating copying under the fair dealing provision.

  1. The copying must be for one of the purposes defined in the Copyright Act.
  2. The copying must be fair when evaluated against six criteria
    (see below).

STEP 1 ~ Are you copying for one of the following purposes?

  1. Research
  2. Private study
  3. Criticism
  4. Review
  5. News reporting
  6. Education
  7. Satire
  8. Parody

2 ~ Check to see if your copying is fair.
Fairness is measured by the following criteria.

  1. Purpose
  2. Character
  3. Amount
  4. Alternatives
  5. Nature of the Work
  6. Effect on the Work

Fail the fair dealing test?
Check to see if any of the following conditions apply.

  1. Qualifies under another Copyright Act exception.
    ie. perceptual disability
  2. Use is covered by library licences for electronic journals and databases.
  3. Use is covered by other license agreement

When in doubt, consult your Campus Librarian or the Copyright Office.

Adapted from University of Waterloo. (2008). Copyright FAQ.


Do not copy workbooks or other consumables unless they have a CC license.

Copying, scanning, or printing pages from products sold as a workbook intended for one-time use is not allowed.

Workbooks and exercise books are intended for one-time use, with students' answers written directly on the book's pages. Any copying from materials intended for one-time use exposes the person making the copy, the instructor, and the College to liability for copyright infringement.


This prohibition does not apply to reproducibles or materials with a Creative Commons (CC) license.

A reproducible is not intended for one-time use, but is sold or provided with the rights holder’s authorization to reproduce it for educational use.

Teaching and learning resources with Creative Commons (CC) copyright licenses like Open Educational Resource (OER) can be freely shared, copied, reused, and in most cases revised and adapted.

For more information on OERS go to the NSCC Guide on Open Educational Resources (OERs).


Remember to give credit and cite the original source on all handouts.

You may provide handouts of a short excerpt of a work to:
                  * Students in a class or course. 
                  * A learning management system that is password-protected, restricted to NSCC students, faculty and staff.
                  * A College network that is password-protected, restricted to  NSCC students, faculty and staff.

The amount of content copied must be fair. NSCC faculty, staff and students should follow the  NSCC Fair Dealing Guidelines on copying or communicating copyrighted works. 

Generally, under fair dealing you may copy:
                  * up to 10% of a work or

                  * one chapter/article from a work.

Need to copy more than NSCC Fair Dealing Guidelines recommend?

Please consult with your Campus Librarian for assistance.

You may include an artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart and plan) as a class handout or as a posting to a learning or course management system if it has a creative commons license or is part of  a larger work and meets the fair dealing test. NSCC faculty are reminded to:

  • Give credit to the creator.
  • Include the source (book or website etc) that the image was copied from and the name of the creator if available. 
  • If you would like to use an artistic work -- for example an architectural drawing -- that is not part of larger work (exists alone and is not part of a book or article) use of the image does not fall under fair dealing.  Please contact the copyright owner for permission to copy and re-use.
  • For content from websites your copying may meet the requirements for the educational exception to copy content from the internet (see websites tab on this box).

Instructors may play music or other sound recordings in the classroom if:

  • It is for educational or training purposes.
  • It is a legal, commercial copy. 
  • It takes place on the premises of the educational institution.
  • The audience is students and instructors. 

This provision may not apply to a performance at an off-campus venue that is not at an educational institution. 

A SOCAN license for music performance may be obtained for events that do not meet this criteria. 
Check with SOCAN or your Campus Library, for more information.  

Show Films and Video Content in Class

Section 29.5 in the Copyright Act  allows teachers and students to show films and documentaries on campus for educational or training purposes if the following conditions are met:

  • Educational purpose
  • Audience is primarily students or faculty
  • Not for profit -- no admission fees
  • Legally acquired copy is shown

A legally acquired copy means a non-pirated copy that was:

  • Purchased
  • Borrowed from the library
  • Rented
  • Licenced content -- ie. NSCC Streaming Video databases
  • YouTube videos -- posted by or with consent from the copyright owner
  • Open Source

Non-educational Events

For social, fundraiser, or non-educational events, a public performance rights licence is required to show films.  Audio Cine Films and Criterion Pictures provide various licencing options such as one-time screening, annual performance, etc.  Please contact your Campus Library if you would like more information.     

Streaming Video

NSCC has licensed access to high quality streaming video collections. Faculty, staff and students can access these collections through the library website.

The Copyright Act includes an exception for tests or examinations. You can:

  • copy content required for a test or examination, provided that the test or examination is not already available in a commercial format;
  • communicate a work by telecommunication required for a test or examination, provided the test or examination is not already available in a commercial format;

Work available through Internet

You can copy content from websites for an educational purpose if your copying meets the following conditions:

  • The website content is posted by or with permission form the copyright owner.
  • The content is not protected by a digital lock -- for example password protected access to content.
  • There is no notice on the website that prohibits copying -- check for a terms of use statement on the website.
  • A notice must be more than a copyright symbol or all rights reserved phrase.
  • You give credit for the copied content and include attribution to the website, and include creator names if mentioned along with the url.

Important Note: This exception does not apply if the educational institution or person acting in their educational role  knows or should have known that the work or other subject-matter was made available through the Internet without the consent of the copyright owner.

Digital Lock

The Copyright Act of Canada defines a technological protection measure (commonly referred tp as a digital lock) as:

any effective technology, device or component that, in the ordinary course of its operation,

  • (a) controls access to a work, to a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or to a sound recording and whose use is authorized by the copyright owner; or

  • (b) restricts the doing — with respect to a work, to a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or to a sound recording — of any act referred to in section 3, 15 or 18 and any act for which remuneration is payable under section 19.

Some alternative options for providing course materials include:

  • Use content written by NSCC faculty.