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Copyright Information: Staff FAQ

Frequently asked questions about copyright from university staff members

Are there any databases of materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?

Generally, no.

However, see the Instructor FAQ to determine how copyrighted materials can be used for educational or training purposes in the classroom.

Also, works that are made available under a Creative Commons license are generally available for free, subject to certain conditions specified in the license, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author. It is important to consider whether your use of Creative Commons materials complies with the terms of the license—in particular, just because MRU is a non-profit entity, does not mean that all of the activities of its faculty and staff are "non-commercial".

Visit the Creative Commons website for more information or check out their content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. Also see our Creative Commons guide for additional information, and see our Image Resources guide for help with finding Creative Commons images in particular.


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Who owns the copyright in the works I create at MRU?

Generally, the creator owns copyright unless it has been assigned to another entity, such as a publisher or other person. If the work was created in the course of employment, the employer will own the copyright. MRU faculty own copyright in their own works, including lectures, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement between the University and the MRU Faculty Association. For non-faculty staff, the University retains copyright in works created during the course of employment.


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Can I post copyrighted images and other content on MRU websites?

Please see our staff Website Administration page for information about the difference between posting on public MRU websites vs. MRU learning management systems, using images on public MRU websites, and linking and embedding content on public MRU websites.


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Can I play music at MRU events?

The Copyright Act allows you to play a sound recording or live radio broadcasts in class as long as it is for educational or training purposes, not for profit, on MRU premises and before an audience consisting primarily of students, faculty or any person who is directly responsible for setting a curriculum for MRU. However, if you want to use music for non-educational purposes, for example, for background music at a conference or in an athletic facility, a license must be obtained from the copyright collectives SOCAN, and Re:Sound. Contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at for licensing assistance.


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Can I show films in class or at MRU events?

The Copyright Act permits instructors to perform any film or other cinematographic work in the classroom, as long as the work is not an infringing copy and was legally obtained. Instructors can also screen films outside of the classroom, provided that the screening is on campus, that the purpose is for education or training, and that the audience consists mainly of students, faculty, or any person who is directly responsible for setting a curriculum for MRU.

If you wish to show a film in a public space on campus, it may be possible to show the film if it a PPR License is purchased, which allow certain feature films to be shown in public spaces on campus for entertainment purposes. To see if a license is available for a feature film, search the online catalogues of the following two film distributors:


Criterion Pictures:

If your selected feature film is listed on either website, contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at for assistance in obtaining a license.


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Can I use copyrighted materials for staff training?

Under the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines, MRU faculty and staff may copy and distribute a Short Excerpt if the purpose of the copying is directly tied to the education of students.

The following examples of administrative copying would not fall within MRU’s Fair Dealing Guidelines:

  • the making of a copy of the Short Excerpt for the purpose of training administrative staff; and
  • copying the Short Excerpt and providing the copies to members of the board of governors or to members of a faculty or department committee for governance or general administrative purposes relating to the operation of the university.

It should be noted that the fair dealing exception may apply to these instances of copying, but a separate fair dealing analysis must be undertaken to ensure compliance with the Copyright Act. For assistance with this analysis, please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at If fair dealing is not available, compliance with the Copyright Act may be achieved by utilizing one of MRU’s electronic subscription licenses or obtaining permission from the copyright holder directly.

If all you need is images to supplement a presentation, you also have the option of finding images that have been liberally licensed for reuse or that are in the public domain (which means the copyright has expired or been waived by the copyright holder). Images that have been licensed under a Creative Commons license, for example, have been made available for reuse without seeking permission.

There are some excellent resources for finding these types of images online, including:

  • Wikimedia Commons: A database of nearly 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. To find any specific instructions for reusing or attributing images, check the “licensing” section on the image page.
  • Flickr Commons: A wonderful collection of public domain images from a variety of libraries, archives, and museums, including the Library of Congress, NASA, the Getty Research Institute, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and many more.
  • Flickr Creative Commons Search: You can also use Flickr’s Advanced Search screen to locate user-added images that have been Creative Commons licensed: just select the option “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. Check the copyright information under “Additional Info” on an image page to locate any specific instructions for using the image.

For more image resources, have a look at our Image Reources guide. For information on how to attribute Creative Commons-licensed images, see our Creative Commons Attribution guide. And of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at


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How can I get more information about copyright?

Key MRU copyright resources are posted on this LibGuide. See in particular:


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Who do I talk to at MRU if I have a copyright question?

Please contact the MRU Copyright Advisor at


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Content on this page has been copied and adapted from the "Copyright at UBC" website, created by the University of British Columbia under a CC BY 4.0 International License.

Have a copyright question?

If, after browsing this guide, you still have questions or require additional information please contact, or 403.440.6618.

Student drop-in office hours on the main floor of the RLLC will resume in September, 2019.