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Copyright FAQS – General Questions

What are Public Performance Rights (PPR)?
What about accessible formats?
What about multiple formats (music, video, text) in one work?
Are Library resources copyright cleared?
What about Crown Copyright and Government Materials in Canada?

What is a Creative Commons license?
What is Open Access?

What are public performance rights?

Performing rights are simply the rights to perform or show a work in public. Performing rights are part of copyright and the copyright owner automatically owns the performing rights, along with other rights. For example, movies shown to the public at a commerical cinema must have public performance rights cleared in order to screen the movie to an audience.

However performance rights are not needed if the purpose of the screening is educational, on the premises of a non-profit educational institution like Toronto Metropolitan University as of November 7th, 2012.

Public performance rights are no longer needed to show a film or documentary for instructional purposes in a classroom setting at a non-profit educational institution. You can now bring your own personal and legal copies of materials or rent legally obtained copies and show them in the classroom. You can also show streamed content in the classroom, as long as that material is legally available to you via university licences, or is a publicly available copy on the internet that is legally posted by the copyright holder, is not password protected, or protected by technological protection measures and does not have a clearly visible notice prohibiting educational non-commercial use.

What about providing accessible formats?

Under the Copyright Act, Section 32, it is not an infringement of copyright for an institution to act on the request of a person with a perceptual disability to make a copy or translate a literary, musical, artistic or dramatic work into an accessible format.

Limitations to this exception include cinematographic work (films etc), large print books and materials commercially available in an accessible format.

For more information please contact Kelly Kimberley:

What about multiple formats (music, video, text) in one work?

Copying from such a work will require copyright permission from all of the copyright holders concerned, since copyright exists separately for each of the different components of the work. However if you are using less than 10% of a work, fair dealing may apply.

Toronto Metropolitan University has passed a new Fair Dealing Guideline based on the recent cases in the Supreme Court of Canada on copyright, recommendations of Universities Canada, and the passing of The Copyright Modernization Act in 2012. This guideline applies to faculty and staff at Toronto Metropolitan University. It provides guidance on how short excerpts of published works can be copied in print or electronic format, without seeking permission of the copyright owner for certain purposes, such as research, criticism, private study, news reporting, parody and satire, and education. Please note that if Toronto Metropolitan University has existing licences please use rely on these licences first.

Toronto Metropolitan University Fair Dealing Guideline

Are library resources (online journals, e-books, digital images and streamed videos) copyright cleared?

Yes. The Library pays for, and negotiates licences with publishers and database vendors for maximum use of the digital resources. The Library’s electronic resources collection totals over 33,000 full text journals and over 100,000 e-books.

Check the Library Web page under Journals by Title A-Z for journals and digitized video resources and Omni for e-books

Please note terms and conditions:

  • Licence agreements govern how and by whom these resources can be used. Links are generally allowed. Scanning the documents themselves is dependent on the terms of agreement with the database vendor providing the journal.
  • If the Library has a journal only in print, but not an online subscription, copyright permission will be needed from the publisher to produce a digital copy.
  • Normally, uses are restricted to faculty, students and staff currently registered. Off campus access is available through the proxy server.
  • It is important to observe the licence terms. Any violation may lead to suspension of access for the entire university community.
  • It is always good practice to properly cite your sources both in assignments and for teaching purposes.

For instructions on how to check if journals, newspapers and other electronic resources electronic resources you would like to use can be used in teaching please see:

Journal Licence Look-up Tool instructions

What about Crown Copyright and Government Materials in Canada?

Government of Canada (Crown Copyright) published materials that are more than 50 years old are in the public domain. Ontario Provincial government published materials that are more than 50 years old are also in the public domain. If published Crown Copyright documents are under 50 years old they remain under copyright.
Government of Canada works (Crown Copyright) that are unpublished have perpetual copyright.

In most cases Canadian government (Federal & Provincial) information that is published or publically accessible is free to use for public, educational and non-commercial purposes with the correct attribution if used in the form it was published. Please note that some provinces (Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia) do or may require that you seek permission even for educational use.
If you wish to adapt, translate, or revise Crown material you must obtain copyright clearance. If you want to use Crown material for commercial use, you must obtain copyright clearance.

You also should not assume everything that appears on Canadian Government websites is fine to use for educational use. For example, copyrighted materials (such as photos) may appear in Government of Canada documents and web pages that are not property of  the Crown. In cases where material is not clearly attributed to government sources you may want to write to the department that posted the resources to check.

What is a Creative Commons license?

The creator or owner of the copyrighted material may choose to release their material through a Creative Commons licence. They can choose to retain different degrees of copyright, or release their material into the public domain. There are at present six different types of Creative Commons licensing. It is important you read the wording of the license that is attached to the material you would like to use carefully.

The most common Creative Commons licence retains copyright for the creator. In this case the creator releases the work to the public for non-commercial use as long at the material is properly attributed. You can often use the whole of the work under this licence for non-commercial use with proper attribution. Depending on the license that the creator chose you may be able to also adapt or change the content as long at the material is properly attributed.

Please note that Creative Commons licencing does NOT usually mean that the material is copyright-free. You may need to clear copyright if you are planning to publish any Creative Commons Licenced material.

Please note the safest way copyright-wise to use Creative Commons material on your D2L and personal websites is by linking, not by uploading articles directly, unless you have read the terms of use. A link is considered a citation and not a reproduction of a work.

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)

Open Access does NOT usually mean copyright-free, although it may occasionally do so. Many 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. An example of a well-known Open Access journal database is:


Please read Peter Suber’s paper “Open Access Overview” for a more detailed description of Open Access.