Creative Commons & You


Creative Commons LicensesCreative Commons is a form of licensing that bridges all rights reserved copyright and public domain copyright. Creative Commons (CC) is a standardized system for licensing the use of copyright materials. It is a copyright-based system of licenses or “permissions.” It offers creators and authors a system by which others can use their work with stipulations and specific conditions while retaining copyright and credit. When you are considering using works that are not expressly marked Creative Commons, you must follow the legal requirements of the Canadian Copyright Act or if using materials accessed through the TRU Library, the licenses agreed upon between your library and vendors.

When items that you are considering for use have the Creative Commons licensing icon and accompanying tags, you must follow the specifics of the license.  These are called “deeds”.

Depending on the permissions the licenser allows, the licensee can copy, publish in digital form, publicly perform all or a substantial part, on specified baseline rights:

  • Attribute (acknowledge) the authorship
  • Not alter terms of license unless you obtain permission from the creator to override any restrictions
  • Link to license from copies of work
  • Not use technology (digital rights management), to restrict other licensees’ uses of work.

When working with Creative Commons materials, the same principles apply to providing attribution across all CC licenses. You should:

  • Credit the creator
  • State the title of work
  • Provide the url where the work is hosted
  • State the type of license it is available under and provide a link to the license so others can find the license terms
  • Keep intact any copyright notice associated with the work.

Improve your understanding of Creative Commons Licenses by reviewing the websites linked below:

Six Creative Commons Licenses
The six different Creative Commons licenses, each with varying levels of freedom and conditions for use of various material, explained.

Choose a License
Assistance with choosing a license for your work and get HTML code to place a button stating the type of license on your website.

Creative Commons FAQ
The full version of the Creative Commons FAQ. An abbreviated version is also available.

Creative Commons Search
Links to search services where you can find Creative Commons licensed works.

30+ Places to Find Creative Commons Media
Includes links to resources for CC licensed audio, images and texts. Includes screencaptures for easy identification.

How to Attribute Creative Commons Licensed Work
Here’s how to properly give credit to the creators who use Creative Commons licenses on their work.

Get Creative by Creative Commons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. This is the Youtube mirror video, here is the link  to the original video site.








Public Domain


Public DomainWhat is it? 

Copyright begins when a work is produced and is held by the creator. The rights of the copyright holder are allowed by the Copyright Act for a specific period of time. When that period ends, the work is considered to be in the public domain. Once in the public domain, the original creator has neither economic nor moral rights concerning the work.

No permission whatsoever is needed to copy or use public domain works. The majority of material found on the Internet is NOT in the public domain, even if it is publicly viewable.

“The duration of the copyright is according to the life of the author and not owner of a work. The general rule is that copyright and moral rights protection in a work endure for 50 years from the calendar year-end after the author’s death.” (Harris, 2014).

In Canada, copyright expires 50 years after the death of the author at the end of the calendar year.  For example, Ernest Hemmingway died on July 2nd, 1961. Copyright in his work expired on December 31st, 2011. Another example, Mordecai Richler died on July 3rd, 2001, his novels will remain copyrighted until December 31st, 2051, and will pass into the Public Domain on January 1st, 2052.

There are some instances where copyright expires 50 years after its first publication at the end of the calendar year. For example, material with a corporate author and photographs published before 1948.

Examples of works in the public domain:

  • Out-of-print editions of materials published in Canada by an author who has been dead for more than fifty years.
  • Photographs taken in Canada in 1949 and earlier by a photographer or a corporation, as these lapsed into the public domain prior to Canadian copyright changes in 1998.
  • Most U.S. Government created publications and photos are ineligible for copyright protection and are automatically released into the public domain.
  • Corporate records and photographs created in Canada more than 50 years old.
  • Government of Canada and most Canadian Provincial government records and photographs that have been published for more than 50 years (although some Crown rights may be reserved.)

It is important to note that the expiration of copyright on derivative works such as translations or scholarly editions dates from the death of the translator or the editor of the scholarly edition. While copyright on a work may have expired, new versions of the same work (translations, re-edited and annotated versions) may not be in the public domain.

It is also important to note that newspapers are NOT in the public domain.

Source of Newspaper Article Permission to email copies Permission to distribute paper copies in classroom Direct Questions to:
Newspaper website Terms of the website Terms of the website TRU Intellectual Office
Electronic copy licensed by library Terms of the license agreement between the vendor, publisher, and TRU Library supersedes Canadian Copyright Law Terms of the license TRU Library Collections Services Manager, Penny Haggarty,
Paper copy, staff-written article (American) Public domain Public domain TRU Intellectual Office
Paper copy, staff-written (Canadian) Varies with publisher Varies with publisher TRU Library Collections Services Manager, Penny Haggarty,
Paper copy, syndicated article Written permission from copyright holder Written permission from copyright holder TRU Intellectual Office

When you find a “syndicated article” for use, that term means signed columns by writers not on staff of the particular paper, cartoons, feature articles by freelance writers, horoscopes and puzzles. Wire service stories are considered to be written by staff.

The law differs in Canada from that in the U.S. where staff-written articles are considered to be in the public domain. Canadian newspapers take different attitudes toward the educational use of their content and toward its general distribution.  In the U.S., the New York Times website, allows up to 20 email addresses if you wish to send a copy of one of its articles to others. Wherever possible, use the TRU Library’s subscription to Canadian Newsstand Complete (a ProQuest database).

For more information, please contact the TRU Intellectual Property Office.


Harris, E. (2014). Canadian copyright law. Wiley: Hobeken, New Jersey

Thompson Rivers University. (2013).  Intellectual property office. Retrieved from

Fair Dealing

The Intellectual Property Office at TRU provides a detail Fair Dealing Policy for all TRU faculty, staff, and students to view. There are many supporting documents provided to assist TRU faculty, staff, and students to interpret TRU’s Fair Dealing Policy. The TRU IPO has created a flow chart as a guide to help you in utilizing good judgment to determine if the material in question can be considered fair dealing.

The fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act (sections 29, 29.1, and 29.2) permits use of a copyright-protected work without permission from the copyright owner or the payment of copyright royalties. To qualify for fair dealing, the follow two specific criteria must be met.

First, the “dealing” must be for a purpose stated in the Copyright Act: research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody. For educational use of a copyright-protected work, this criteria must be met.

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

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


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.

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.

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:

  • as a class handout;
  • as a posting to a learning- or course-management system that is password protected or otherwise restricted to students of a school or post-secondary educational institution;
  • as part of a course pack.

A short excerpt means:

  • up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work);
  • one chapter from a book;
  • a single article from a periodical;
  • an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works;
  • an entire newspaper article or page;
  • an entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores;
  • an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work.

Note: you may not make copies of multiple short excerpts from the same work for the same group of students during any one term. Doing so would have the effect of providing a copy of substantially the entire work and that is not allowed under fair dealing.

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. Please forward your material to TRU IPO Office for review.

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.

Copying more than a short excerpt of a work

Under some circumstances you may communicate or copy more than is permitted under fair dealing without the direct permission of a copyright holder. In other cases, you must have direct permission. The points below apply to both print and electronic copies.

Works that may be copied without seeking permission

  1. Works that are in the public domain, i.e. they are no longer protected by copyright (in Canada, copyright protection generally expires 50 years after the death of the creator).
  2. Works that have a Creative Commons licence; such licences often allow others to reproduce an entire work as long as it is properly attributed and not intended for commercial use. Creative Commons licences are typically used for Open Access material (follow that link for more information created by the University of Waterloo Library Open Access Subject Guide).
  3. Electronic works for which the TRU Library, or some other department, has a licence. These licences allow you to share material with your students in specified ways. At the very least, you may give your students a link to the resource. In some cases you may arrange to have a copy included in a courseware package or added to electronic reserves, or you may prepare a PDF for Blackboard or Moodle.
  4. Works covered by another exception in the Copyright Act.

Works that may be copied only with permission

Substantial portions of any work not in the public domain, without a Creative Commons licence, not covered under another exception in the Copyright Act, or for which TRU has no other licence, may be communicated or copied only with the express permission of the copyright holder. Because such permissions take time to obtain and may include a fee (sometimes quite high), you are encouraged to take advantage of the huge array of licensed electronic resources available through the TRU library. Using those resources whenever possible can cut costs for your students as well as the university at large.

Note: If you wish to copy a work for which permission is required, you must get such permission before making the copy(s) and retain a written or email copy of the permission. If your right to make the copy is questioned at a later time, you will need to show evidence that you made the copy with permission from the copyright owner.

Using web content

Content on the web is protected by copyright law in the same way as print and other formats, even if there is no copyright symbol or notice. Linking directly to the web page containing the content you wish to use is almost always permissible, although you need to make sure the content you are linking to is not in itself infringing copyright. In addition, if the web-page does not clearly identify the website and content owner, you should also include the full details of the author, copyright owner and source of the materials by the link. This will avoid any suggestion that the website is your own material or that your website is somehow affiliated with the other site.

If you have reason to believe that the web site may contain content posted without the permission of the copyright owner, you should avoid linking to it. In addition, if you wish to use content in any way other than just linking to it, e.g. preparing  a PDF for inclusion in Blackboard or Moodle, you should check the website’s “Terms of Use” or “Legal Notices” section to confirm what conditions apply to the use of the website’s material, including whether educational use is explicitly prohibited. Many websites will allow educational use of their materials.

The above information is created by and adapted from the following sources:

RDC Fair Dealing Guidelines, University of Waterloo Copyright Guidelines, University of Toronto Library, and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.


Writing a book?  Preparing course materials?  Preparing a thesis? It is important to seek permission from the copyright owner of any material you are going to use. Written permission is required to reproduce the work of another person that is under copyright according to Canadian law. Simply acknowledging that that work belongs to another and providing a credit line does not constitute permission to reproduce it.

Authors are responsible for determining the copyright status of all material that is not their own and for obtaining permission to reproduce material that is not in the public domain.

If your use of a copyright-protected work isn’t permitted by a TRU Library licensed database or by one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act, you will need to ask for permission. Ideally, you would contact TRU’s Intellectual Property Office for assistance.

Obtaining permission to use copyrighted material

You must identify the copyright owner. Check for a copyright notice on the work.  This information is found at the posted or published “Terms of Use” or “Legal Notices”. You may find that the copyright owner is represented by a collective agency (for example: Access Copyright, Canadian Artists Represenation Copyright Collective, Educational Rights Collective of Canada, Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, and Re:Sound) in which case you should deal with the collective directly.

NOTE: If you are unable to determine the copyright owner, contact TRU Intellectual Properties Office at

Information required when asking for permission

When contacting a copyright owner or collective agency to seek copyright permission, you will need to provide this type of information:

An exact description of the item:

  • For a book, include full publication information, including ISBN, edition, year of publication, page numbers, etc.
  • For a website, include the URL which links directly to the item.

A description of the proposed use, including duration and form of distribution:

  • Example: “I wish to use this image in a PowerPoint presentation in a workshop I am giving at [insert name of place] for [insert name of organization] on September 10, 2012. Also, the image will appear on handouts, which will be distributed to 30 participants.”
  • If the proposed use is to post the item on a website, is the website password protected? How many students will have access to the site?

A statement on profit:

  • You must state if you are expecting to gain profit from the use of the copyright material.  For example: “The handouts will not be sold, and no profit will be derived from the use of this image” or “The materials will be used and attributed appropriately in the production and sale of a book.”

Detailed information about you, including contact information:

  • For students, state your name and full contact information (address, phone, email). You may wish to include your program of study.
  • For faculty and staff, state your name, position, and full contact information (address, phone, email).

The permission should be in writing either posted through Canada Post or delivered by an email. Do not rely on a verbal permission. Keep a file record of who gave the permission, what was permitted, the date, and how to contact the person who gave permission.

Obtain permissions to include copyrighted print materials in a course pack

When creating a course package, submit a bibliography of any copyrighted materials to the TRU Intellectual Property Office. This is the latest posting from the IPO’s News webpage:

“Clearing Copyright for the Winter Semester

November 14, 2012

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) would like to gently remind Faculty Members that as the Fall term draws to a close, the Winter term quickly approaches. Please bring your course pack requests for courses starting in January to the Printshop as soon as you can, so that we can ensure copyright is cleared and your materials are ready to use in your courses.

As our offices will be closed from December 25th to January 1st, we would recommend that you have your material requests to the Printshop by December 7th. As always, your materials will be cleared and printed in the order they are received.

If you have any copyright related questions, please contact us any time at”

To maintain your professional academic integrity and that of TRU, it is advisable to contact the TRU IPO whenever you have questions about what you can and cannot use for your work.

Content in this blog posting has been copied and adapted from a Copyright FAQ from the University of Waterloo under a Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 2.5 Canada Licence. 

Copyright Imperative



This blog opens the conversation for TRU Williams Lake Campus faculty to explore what copyright is, TRU’s requirements regarding copyright, understanding the fair dealing exception, and ensuring that faculty is both compliant with, and benefitting from, copyright law in Canada.

The foundation upon which this conversation is built rests with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office‘s definition of copyright and is aligned with the position taken by TRU’s Intellectual Property Office:

What is copyright?

In the simplest terms, “copyright” means “the right to copy.” In general, copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form. It includes the right to perform the work or any substantial part of it or, in the case of a lecture, to deliver it. If the work is unpublished, it includes the right to publish the work or any substantial part of it.

Copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form.


Canada. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. A Guide to Copyright. Aug. 2013. Government of Canada. Web. 6 Nov. 2013

Thompson Rivers University. Intellectual Property Office. Copyright Basics.  Thompson Rivers University. Web. 6 Nov. 2013