Using material in class under Copyright Act

The Copyright  Act affects how material can be used in the classroom. Your Copibec licence helps you ensure you’re using content properly.

Permission to use content

Various activities that you do frequently in class come under the provisions of the Copyright  Act. For example:

  • Handing out photocopies
  • Showing films Listening to music
  • Scanning excerpts from works
  • Displaying excerpts on smartboards

To help maintain a balance between meeting the needs of educational institutions and respecting the rights of authors and publishers, copyright collectives play a valuable role by issuing comprehensive licences that allow teaching personnel to use content conveniently and legally.

Major user groups in Quebec’s education sector (preschool, elementary, high school, college, CEGEP and university) have signed licensing agreements with Copibec so that excerpts from published content such as the following can be reproduced on paper or in digital format by educational institutions.

  • Books
  • Textbooks
  • Newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Magazines
  • Song lyrics
  • Etc.

Your institution may also have agreements with other copyright collectives in Canada. For more information, please refer to our Who to contact section.

In general, Copibec licences create a simple, secure operating framework that meets all the needs of educational institutions when it comes to reproducing content and using excerpts from works.

Exceptions in the Act

The Copyright  Act sets out certain exceptions for educational institutions. For example, exceptions apply to content displayed on smartboards in class for educational purposes or content that is legally available from a freely accessible website. However, the scope of the exceptions has been given contradictory interpretations by copyright experts and has been contested in court.

Exceptions and conditions

To take advantage of the exceptions as a teacher or professor, you need to meet some requirements. For instance, before displaying content on screen in class, you have to check whether the work can be purchased in an appropriate format. For content taken from the Internet, you have to make sure it was made legally accessible on the site and there is no clearly visible notice that prohibits use and no technological measures that limit access.

Fair dealing

The “fair dealing” exception applies to the use of content for the following purposes:

  • Research and private study
  • Review
  • Criticism
  • News reporting
  • Parody
  • Satire
  • Education

This exception does not apply automatically or systematically to all content used in an educational setting.

As stated by the Supreme Court of Canada, the exception should be broadly interpreted and anyone taking advantage of the exception has to prove that the content has been used fairly (“fairness of the dealing”).

A two-step analysis must be done to determine the fairness of the dealing. Fair dealing is a question rooted in facts, degrees and impressions about the specifics of each case.

The Supreme Court has not specified a percentage or number of pages that may be copied under the fair dealing exception. Even though fair dealing for educational purposes is sometimes interpreted by users as meaning up to 10% of a work or an entire chapter, that interpretation is not founded on the wording of the Act or any ruling by Canadian courts.

Reproduction rights licences

As a teacher or professor in a Quebec educational institution, you benefit from licensing agreements that Copibec has signed with the Quebec ministry of education or with your college, CEGEP or university. Those licences give you permission to use content legally, conveniently and without any undue administrative burden while acknowledging the work done by authors and their publishers. You can therefore rely on your Copibec licence for confirmation of how content can be used and how the parties have interpreted the provisions.

Perceptual disabilities

Making large-print copies of books is allowed under the Copibec licence for preschool, elementary and high school institutions. At the college and university levels, institutions should contact us to request permission.

In compliance with the Copyright  Act, Copibec offers a service that lets you obtain works from a number of publishers in an appropriate format within a reasonable timeframe and at a reasonable cost. The documents are in PDF format without technological protection measures (TPMs) so they are compatible with technology tools that provide features such as reading, writing and proofreading support.

If you need more information, please feel free to contact us!