The University of Ottawa strongly encourages students to respect the principles of copyright and intellectual property in their educational and other university activities. As a student, you are usually entitled to the copyright and related interests for works you create. Students who copy or communicate copyright-protected works should either obtain the permission of the copyright holder or be satisfied that copying or communicating the works falls 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.
You should make every effort to rely on the University’s Fair dealing guidelines, on materials which do not require a permission – see Using electronic resources, Alternatives to copyright, and Creative Commons and open access – or on the various exceptions that could apply to you – see Exceptions to copyright.
For information about using copyright protected materials in your thesis, see Copyright and your thesis.
Art and performance
Students can use copyright-protected material such as images, video, music and advertisements for academic purposes in the same way as books, journals and other materials. This material, including visual art, can generally be included in assignments and class presentations, as long as it falls under the “fair dealing” exemption or an educational exception to copyright (see Exceptions to Copyright).
However, if you would like to publish, distribute or exhibit your assignment or presentation in a public forum or gallery, you may need permission from the copyright holder. For more information, see Asking for Permission or contact the Copyright Office.
In a non-academic setting, you may be able to use copyright-protected materials to create new, unique works under the “Remix” exception, by following certain conditions (see “Remix Exception” under Exceptions to Copyright).
Students can also perform copyright-protected works in the classroom. You can also perform a copyright protected work publicly as long as it is performed on campus, for a student/instructor-majority audience and not for profit (see “Performances” under Exceptions to Copyright). You should not record such performances other than for evaluation purposes and with the permission of the performers, and you cannot distribute (for example, on YouTube) or sell any recordings of the performance.
For performance of copyright-protected works off campus, for the general public or for commercial purposes, you generally require permission from the copyright holder (for more information, see Asking for Permission or contact the Copyright Office).
Copyright holders for major works such as musicals, hit songs, plays and novels generally have very strict policies regarding copyright and improper distribution of their materials. Do not assume that “no-one will notice” if you post a recording or evidence of use of a copyright-protected work online without following the legal guidelines. Content and information can be shared quickly online, so it is very likely that the copyright holders will know you have used their material, which could have legal consequences.
Inventions and digital materials
Copyright is part of a family of rights that are generally referred to as “intellectual property”. Other types of intellectual property include patents, industrial design, and trademarks, which apply to inventions, product designs, and brands.
Digital materials, such as games and other software, are protected by copyright and should generally not be copied. However, section 30.6 of the Copyright Act does allow owners of a legal copy of a computer program to copy, modify, or translate it into another computer language, as long as they do so for their personal use only and as necessary to make the program compatible with their computer. Making a personal back-up copy is also allowed. Copies or modified programs must be destroyed if the person loses the rights to the original legal copy. It is also important to note that these provisions cannot be used if they involve bypassing any technological protection measures, such as digital locks.
Inventions, technological creations, and product designs can be protected in several ways, such as by applying for patents or by registering industrial designs. Some parts of an invention, such as blueprints, may be protected by copyright; however, copyright protection will only apply to the blueprints themselves and not to the underlying idea. Patenting or registering the material as an industrial design will ensure more complete protection.
A patent is a legal protection that can be applied to both new technology (e.g. a unique new robot design) and improvements to existing technological products or processes (e.g. a modified attachment for an existing robot). See A Guide to Patents for further information.
Industrial design registration is applied to a product whose appearance is distinctive, unique and unlike any other current product (e.g. a pattern engraved on the handle of a kitchen tool). Note that industrial design registration protects the look of the product: it does not protect other features, such as its construction or materials. See A guide to industrial designs, published by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, for more information.
It is important to note that an abstract idea or concept cannot be patented or registered as an industrial design. Patents can only be issued for the physical embodiment of an idea (such as a design or prototype), or for a process that produces something tangible or that can be sold. Industrial designs can only be registered as they apply to a finished object.