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.