This page gives an overview of copyright information. Further to the policies of CMCC relating to copyright and intellectual property issues, the following information is provided to those making use of the facilities, equipment and material of the CMCC Health Sciences Library. This information is relevant to all faculty, students, administration, employees, alumni and visitors.

Unless otherwise established prior to usage, always assume that material is subject to copyright. Exceptions, which may include material in the public domain, are the responsibility of the individual to establish.

What is Copyright?

The Copyright Act, intellectual property legislation and general principles of law, protects authors, or copyright owners of literary, dramatic, artistic, cinematographic works, sound recordings and computer programs. This protection extends for the lifetime of the copyright owner and for 50 years after death. In addition, the use of logos and other intellectual property are governed by legislation and rules of usage.

While the CMCC Library provides guidelines, it is the responsibility of any individual or group using the library to adhere to requirements concerning copyright and intellectual property rights which may be in effect at the time.

The members of the Media Services Department adhere to the edicts of the current federal copyright legislation. The client is wholly responsible for obtaining clearance for any order which involves external copyright issues. The production staff reserves the right to refuse any orders due to lack of copyright compliance, time and manpower restrictions, or equipment failure.

Copying guidelines

Effective January 1, 2012, CMCC will not be renewing its license with ACCESS Copyright. Due to proposed changes in the agreement, CMCC, like many other colleges and universities, are opting out of the agreement.  As of this date, we will be using the “fair dealing” provisions of the Canadian Copyright Act. Fair dealing offers some exceptions to the Copyright Act’s general prohibition on copying. 

Copying or scanning for personal use

Fair dealing allows limited and non-commercial copying for the purposes of research or private study, criticism, review, and news reporting. One may make a copy of a portion of a work if it is fair dealing or if a special exception in the Copyright Act permits it. Otherwise a special agreement must exist between the copyright holder and the user, such as through a licence agreement. Just how much of a work can be copied, or what might be considered “fair” is not defined in the Copyright Act however the concepts of substantiality and proportionality are key considerations.

Substantiality and proportionality

The Copyright Act (s.3) protects substantial parts of works as well as whole works. Since “substantial” is not defined in the Act, the quantity and importance of what is being copied must be evaluated. In deciding whether a part of a work is considered substantial, the whole work must be taken into account. A few sentences from a novel would probably be considered insubstantial but a single line from a poem might be essential to the work and be considered substantial. 

Proportionality is also important in considering if use of a work might be considered fair dealing. The Supreme Court has proposed the following criteria for evaluating whether a dealing is fair:  

  • the purpose of the dealing
  • the character of the dealing
  • the amount of the dealing
  • the nature of the work
  • available alternatives to the dealing
  • the effect of the dealing on the work

The purpose of the use, the amount to be used, and alternatives available have to be considered and must outweigh the nature and the effect of the dealing on the work.   


In Canada, “fair dealing” as defined by the Copyright Act is more restrictive than the “fair use” provisions in the United States, particularly in regard to education and teaching.  Canadian copyright law includes few fair dealing educational exemptions.  They provide no special dispensation for educators and only protect scholars who want to make copies for private study.

Given the lack of legislation governing digital compliance (Canadian copyright law does not even mention the internet) reproduction in a digital environment is largely determined by what the copyright holder does or does not allow. Persons wanting to reproduce information resources for which they do not hold copyright must contact the copyright holder (normally the publisher) to determine allowable uses for different resources. The CMCC Health Sciences Library subscribes to a number of databases, electronic journals and e-books. Check with the librarians to see if the resource you would like to reproduce, in whole or in part, is covered by any of the special agreements and licenses entered into by the Library.

It is important to understand that the same copyright holder can have very different degrees of flexibility in what is allowed for different resources. Elsevier, for example, is the copyright holder for Science Direct, their e-journals provider. Our Science Direct license does not permit posting of full text PDFs from any of their electronic journals on internal course management systems. Users are required to post hyperlinks in place of electronic full text.

On the other hand, their Evolve resource, to which some faculty have personal access, allows them to post images or entire chapters of select Elsevier texts in the form of PowerPoint presentations to internal course management systems. In addition, faculty are permitted to alter full text or create their own PPT presentations using images from the resource. Each resource, even if it is the same copyright holder, must be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Obtaining Copyright Permissions

Contact the Library to see if the library holds licenses or special agreements with copyright holder of the resource you would like to use. If not, go to the publisher’s web page. Look for the word “Permissions” or “Clearances”.

Send them a message asking for copyright clearance. Include the following:
• Give them specific information regarding the resource you would like to use. If it is an article, provide full article details (author, title, journal, volume, page).
• Ask for copyright clearance to post a PDF (or other format) of the article and/or use the article for a printed course pack. The same would apply for images, PPT presentations or other types of electronic media.
• Tell them where (e.g. KIRO, on an open web site) and whether the site is password protected.
• Tell them how many students are in the class or how many people will be accessing the web site.
Some publishers provide clearances free of charge and give details on how to credit their intellectual property. Others expect payment.

  • Click here to download the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and additional information on Digital Copyright Compliance.   


The Board of Governors of CMCC and CMCC assume no liability with respect to the copying of any materials. Faculty, students, employees, alumni and visitors are solely responsible for any improper conduct relating to the use of copyright and intellectual property in any manner whatsoever. In addition, CMCC will look to users for complete indemnification in the event of any action being taken against CMCC for contravention of copyright or intellectual property rights. Individuals and groups should ensure that they are aware of the obligations and rights concerning usage of such material prior to such usage. Individuals and groups should ensure that they are aware of the obligations and rights concerning usage of such material prior to such usage.

Where can I find help with other copyright questions?

The best source for answers to your copyright questions is the Library. Questions pertaining to copyright should be directed to the Library Director, Margaret Butkovic, 416.482 2340 x 159, or email For more general information, you can also consult the websites maintained by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, the Copyright Board of Canada and the Department of Justice Canada (Copyright Act).