Using copyright-protected material for an event

Clef note

The Copyright Act allows faculty, staff and students to present copyright-protected sound recordings, films and videos, dramatic works, musical pieces and broadcasts without permission from the copyright holder if the presentation meets all of the following requirements.

The presentation must be:

  • for educational or training purposes
  • on university premises
  • not for profit
  • for an audience of mostly students and faculty

You can also present copyright protected works under these provisions:

Music

You must obtain permission and a licence from the copyright holders for uses such as:

Microphone
  • background music in an athletic facility or at a fair
  • in a video
  • live music or buskers
  • as part of a dance or an event like 101 Week
  • accompanying a fireworks display or a comedy show

Licensing for music

You can obtain a licence from the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and Re:Sound copyright collectives. SOCAN has created a comparison sheet you can consult for more information on the differences between SOCAN and Re:Sound.

SOCAN

Musical sheets resting on a stand

SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) is a not-for-profit organization that represents music creators, composers and publishers by licensing the use of their music in Canada, both live and recorded. SOCAN collects and distributes royalties to songwriters and music publishers (learn more about SOCAN).

You can verify the type of fee needed for your event using the SOCAN licence finder. Choosing a SOCAN licence and fee also depends on factors such as room capacity and whether there will be dancing.

Re:Sound

Re:Sound is a Canadian not-for-profit music licensing company that represents the performance rights of artists and record companies. It licenses only recorded music. Re:Sound collects fees on behalf of the owners of the rights to the sound recordings (such as musicians and record companies), whereas SOCAN collects fees on behalf of music composers, creators and publishers.

To find the appropriate tariff for your event, use the Re:Sound tariffs page.

Film and video

Video Camera Icon

To show a film at a public event for profit, in an off-campus venue or for a majority non-student/faculty audience, you must obtain permission from the copyright holders. This includes for events such as a “movie night” open to non-students or a documentary screening where admission is charged.

Several copyright collective societies in Canada administer copyright for films. The vast majority of popular and current releases are handled by Criterion Pictures and Audio Ciné Films.

For other feature films, see this list of copyright collective societies. Since these societies process a high volume of requests, make your request well in advance of your event. If no request method is specified on the society’s website, see Asking for Permission.

Plays and musicals

Black icon showing an audience and a stage

If you would like to perform a copyright-protected work for profit, in a venue outside of the campus or for a majority non-student/faculty audience, you will need to obtain permission and a licence from the copyright holders.

The principal copyright collective societies for using copyright-protected dramatic works in Canada are the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada and the Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques. They typically charge a fee for the licence and for each performance.

If you will be using live or recorded music as part of the production, you will also need to contact SOCAN (for recorded and live music) as well as Re:Sound (for recorded music only) for the appropriate rights and permissions.

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