Fair dealing is a user's right in the Copyright Act that allows the use of short excerpts from copyright-protected works without payment or permission from the copyright owner, for the following eight specific purposes:
Note: If your purpose is criticism, review or news reporting, you must mention the source and author of the work for it to considered be fair dealing.
Copyright Act, Section 29
Determining if a use is fair is done on a case-by-case basis. Each use of a copyright protected work has nuances and idiosyncrasies. Just because a use was fair in the past does not necessarily mean it is fair in the present.
The Supreme Court of Canada outlined six factors to help determine if a particular use (or "dealing") of a copyright-protected work is fair:
Note: A use does not need to satisfy all of these factors do be considered fair.
CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada
Reference: CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada,  1 S.C.R. 339, 2004 SCC 13
The Copyright Act does not define "short excerpt". Please note that you still need to quote and cite materials appropriately, unless otherwise noted in the copyright notice. VIU developed its definition of a "short excerpt" from the CMEC Fair Dealing Guidelines and CAUT Guidelines for Use of Copyrighted Material. VIU has adopted the following guidelines to help instructors decide if a particular use is fair:
In cases where the work is an anthology or collection that includes complete works that are otherwise available in separate volumes, this may not be applicable. In such cases, please contact the Copyright Office for clarification.
Copying that exceeds the above limits requires permission from the copyright owner.
Students can use short excerpt from a copyright-protected work as:
Note: license agreements for electronic resources take precedence over legislative allowances
Fair dealing is an interpretation. To lower risk, consider the guidelines above and the following best practices:
If you are using a short excerpt of a copyright protected work, please add the following copyright notice so that users are aware of their responsibilities in protecting that work:
This copy is made solely for your personal use for research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, or review only. Further reproduction, fixation, distribution, transmission, dissemination, communication, or any other uses, may be an infringement of copyright if done without securing the permission of the copyright owner. You may not distribute, email, or otherwise communicate these materials to any other person.
Do you have questions? Want to learn more? Contact the Copyright Office
The information on this website is provided as guidance for educational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.
VIU's copyright website is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
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