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Mount Royal University's Copyright Office supports students, faculty, and staff in all areas of copyright related to teaching and learning. The following information is not legal advice, but intended to promote a better understanding of the rights and responsibilities of students and educators. The Mount Royal University Fair Dealing Guidelines outline best practices when using copyrighted works. 

Is your use of a copyright-protected material considered fair? Use one of these resources to find out:

If you'd like to find out more, register for a copyright workshop, or email the copyright advisor at


Additional resources:

Introduction to copyright

What is copyright?

It's a type of intellectual property that gives the owner the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, perform, publish, adapt, translate, or telecommunicate a work, and to determine how others may do these things. Copyright does not protect ideas, facts, or news, but rather the expression of these things once they are 'fixed' in some way (digital or physical). These expressions are generally referred to as "works" which encompasses books, musical scores, recordings, videos, poems, photographs, drawings, clip art, sculptures, websites, and many more things. In order for a work to be protected by copyright, there must be an element of originality, skill and judgment in its creation - more than that required to create (for example) a telephone book.

Usually the creator of a work is the first copyright owner, but individual copyrights may be broken up and assigned, licensed, or sold to other people (e.g. an author assigning digital publishing copyrights to her publisher). This means that the author or creator may not be the copyright owner.


How is copyright created?

Copyright is created the moment an original work is set in any 'fixed' form, meaning it's outside of the creator's head and accessible in some way (e.g. when it's drawn, written, recorded, saved to a hard drive, or uploaded to the Internet). In Canada, you don't have to register a work, nor does the word "copyright" nor the symbol "©" need to be added for protection - though it is a good reminder. A creator may choose to register a work with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office as proof of ownership, but it's not mandatory.


How long does copyright last?

Canadian copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years after the year of death. At that point the work enters the public domain. Not all countries use the same 50 year term, but if you are using a work in Canada, you can apply Canadian copyright law.


Copyright applies to many things including: architectural designs, books, communication signals, computer programs, diagrams & charts, drawings, maps, musical scores, paintings, pamphlets & brochures, performances (if recorded), photographs, sculptures, sound recordings, video recordings, and websites. Keep in mind that copyright applies to works in any format, so it doesn't matter if something is printed on paper, made out of clay, or saved to a web server and posted to the Internet; it is still protected by copyright.


What is the purpose of copyright (User and Owner Rights)?

Copyright was created to serve the public interest by promoting culture, creativity, and to support education by giving copyright creators limited control over their work so they could profit and make more works. Creators are also given moral rights which can be waived, but cannot be licensed, sold, or given away. Moral rights include the right to be identified as a work's creator (or to remain anonymous) and to protect one's honour and integrity in how a work is treated and what it's associated with. 

Along with limited owner rights, the Copyright Act creates equally important user rights that support the purpose of copyright (upholding the public interest by supporting free speech, education, access to information, and cultural creativity). User rights form an active part in the dissemination and promotion of information, art and literature, and are a necessary part of copyright law. This means that owner rights are not unlimited, which is why educational users can use copyrighted works in many cases without permission, license, or payment.


What is copyright infringement?

Generally, it is up to an owner to take action when they discover their copyright in a work has been infringed. A copyright owner may sue for actual damages (losses due to the infringement), but they can also claim set amounts under the Copyright Act. For commercial infringements, an infringer may have to pay between $500 and $20,000, and for a non-commercial infringement the fine is between $100 - $5,000. 

Although rare, there are also criminal penalties for copyright infringement which may include fines and/or imprisonment, but they are generally only imposed on commercial infringers.


What responsibility do I have as a MRU employee or student to copyright? 

MRU employees and students are required to inform themselves of the requirements to use information and materials ethically and appropriately, including ensuring they are following the requirements of the Copyright Act. If you aren't sure or have questions, we are here to help! Contact the Copyright Advisor at


Services and contacts

  • Custom copyright workshops and classroom presentations: The Copyright Advisor is happy to create customized workshops for departments with a view to instruction and course design at MRU or come and speak to classes about copyright issues relevant to course content. It is greatly appreciated if you can provide as much lead time as possible. Email the Copyright Advisor at

  • Library resources: For information on linking to or reproducing MRU Library's electronic materials, ordering new library materials, placing items on reserve, or for specific subject guides, please contact your Subject Librarian.

  • D2L: For assistance with your D2L site, please contact the Academic Development Center ("ADC").

  • Course packs: For information on course packs (including deadlines), please contact the Bookstore.

Upcoming Events and Workshops

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Taylor Stevens
Phone: 403.440.8946
Office: EL 4423L
Subjects: Copyright

Legal notice

The advice, information, and opinions on this LibGuide are not intended to constitute nor do they replace legal advice and they do not create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with a lawyer for legal matters.