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On June 12, Toronto Metropolitan University Libraries will launch OMNI, an academic search tool designed to bring library search and service functions together to provide a seamless, one-stop search experience for users.

Copyright for Students

The university does not condone copyright infringement by students. Students who copy or communicate copyright-protected works should either obtain the permission of the copyright owner or be satisfied that copying or communicating the works falls under Toronto Metropolitan University existing licences OR within one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act. The university is not liable for any infringing copies made or communicated by students including such copies made or communicated using copiers or scanners made available by the university or material that is uploaded by a student to D2L or to the Internet.

For general information about copyright see: Copyright Basics

Existing Licences

Toronto Metropolitan University is covered under some existing agreements and licences that have certain terms of use or conditions of use for the communication and copying of covered works.

TMU already has existing licences that covers a wide variety of content:

Electronic e-books and electronic journals. Much of the material in the library collection allow you to make use of the material for your personal research and your own private study and download a single copy or portion of a work for your use only, however this is not always the case. If there are digital locks or technological protection measures on materials you cannot circumvent these to gain access to copies of material. Toronto Metropolitan University Electronic Resources are covered by various Terms of Use for each resource and it is your responsibility to read these terms of use before copying material. See our general Electronic Resources Terms of Use statement.

Copyright Exceptions

Fair Dealing

Fair dealing is a user’s right in Canadian copyright law which allows for short excerpts of a work to the copied without permission for certain purposes such as education, private study, research and criticism. Toronto Metropolitan University has adopted the Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline which is based on the Universities Canada (formerly AUCC) Fair Dealing Policy for Universities. The Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline applies to faculty members, instructors and staff members of the university. The guideline permits faculty members, instructors and staff members to communicate and reproduce short excerpts of copyright-protected works for specified purposes without infringing copyright.

Definition of Short Excerpt

Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline defines a short excerpt as:

  • 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 provided that in each case, no more of the work is copied than is required in order to achieve the allowable purpose.

Copyright Infringement and Exceptions

It is an infringement of copyright to copy all or a substantial part[1] of a copyright-protected work or to communicate all or a substantial part of a copyright-protected work to the public[2] by telecommunication without the consent of the holder of the copyright, unless copying or communicating the work falls within an exemption from copyright infringement. One of the main exemptions is the fair dealing exemption.

The Fair Dealing Exception

The fair dealing exemption in the Copyright Act (sections 29, 29.1 and 29.2) provides that fair dealing with a copyright-protected work for one of the following eight purposes: research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody, does not infringe copyright. Any fair dealing for the purpose of news reporting, criticism or review must however mention the source and, if given in the source, the name of the author or creator of the work.

Depending on the circumstances, a student may copy or communicate a short excerpt of a copyright-protected work under the fair dealing exemption without the permission of the copyright holder and without infringing copyright.

Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline and Students

Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline does not apply to students except to the extent that a student is an employee of the university, e.g. as a teaching assistant or instructor.

If you are using fair dealing in your course work for the purposes of research, review, criticism or news reporting you need to cite the source and give a full citation of the work you are using. This is very important if you are publicly posting short excerpts of copyrighted material to the public Internet for a classroom assignment, for example using a photo in a blog.

For information regarding the Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline and Canada’s copyright law, contact Ann Ludbrook, Copyright Librarian at

Open Access and Creative Commons Works

You might want to consider using open access or Creative Commons licensed material in your assignments or when you are copying or communicating materials you have created, since under an open access licence you may even be able use this material for commercial use, or remix and adapt it as long as you attribute or cite correctly.

What is Open Access?

“In the most general sense Open Access refers to unrestricted Internet access to articles and other works published in scholarly journals. Generally “open access” users have the right to “read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles.” (Quoted from About DOAJ) Increasingly there is a community of people that are releasing their music, video, images and text under a Creative Commons licence that allow others to reuse their work as long as it is attributed and the terms of the licence are abided by.

Open Access does NOT usually mean copyright-free, although it may occasionally do so. Open Access articles and papers have been released to the public through a Creative Commons License or other Open Content License that retains copyright for the creator(s). It is important you read the wording of the license that is attached to the material you would like to use carefully if you are considering commericial use, or want to adapt or remix the work to make sure that this is allowed.

Here is a search resource for finding text, images and music and videos that can be used without copyright clearance for student assignments and sometimes even commercial use:

Creative Commons Search

For more information on finding images that you can use in your work, please see:

Open Access Image Resources


[1]     For a discussion of what constitutes a substantial part of a copyright-protected work see the Fair Dealing Policy for Universities: General Application.

[2]     In general, a communication is to the public if the recipients are not restricted to individuals that are purely in a domestic relationship.