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If you have any questions about copyright or fair dealing or the process, please contact the LRC.


Copyright literally means the right to copy. In Canada, all original creative works are protected by copyright as soon as they are fixed in some format. The Copyright Act grants a series of rights to the creators of works giving them the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, distribute or sell their works. Only the copyright owner has the right to decide when and how the work is copied. These rights include moral rights. If the work is created in the course of employment, the employer holds the copyright.

Copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of a work, and applies whether or not a copyright statement appears on the material. The general rule is that copyright expires 50 years after the death of the author. The Copyright Act can be viewed online at

Public Domain, Creative Commons and Open Access

Public Domain:

Copyright protection has a legally defined time period that varies depending on the type of work, who created it, etc. Consult the Copyright Act at for details. When the time ends, the protection ends. Works then belong to the public and anyone may use them without permission or the payment of royalties.

To be clear, the copy "in-hand" must have expired protection. There are many instances where works have been republished, thus, the text may be free of protection, but the copy held is still under protection and cannot be copied without permission or payment of royalties.

Creative Commons:

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that enables creators to share their materials via a set of copyright licenses. There are standardized licenses that give the public permission to share and use works based on the rights the creator has chosen. Rights vary from some rights reserved to all rights reserved. The user must read the accompanying license to know how the material can be used.

Open Access:

Provides access to peer reviewed scholarly materials which allow readers to view, download and copy materials. Terms of use are set by the individual creator and range from partial access to unrestricted use. The user must read the terms of use to know how the material can be used. 


This guide is adapted with the permission of Seneca College.


This site was designed solely for informational purposes for Michener employees and students.  All other users are encouraged to confirm the information with their institution. This site is maintained by LRC staff and is not reviewed by legal counsel.


Creative Commons License

Copyright Guide for The Michener Institute of Education at UHN by Juanita Richardson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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