Fair dealing guidelines


  1. The fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act permits use of a copyright-protected work without permission from the copyright holder or the payment of copyright royalties. To qualify for fair dealing, two tests must be passed.
    • If the copyright-protected work is used for educational purposes, this passes the first test. Other acceptable purposes, as stated in the Copyright Act, are research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, and satire or parody.
    • The second test is that the dealing must be "fair." In landmark decisions, in 2004 and 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada provided guidance as to what this test means – guidance forming the underpinnings to these guidelines.
  1. Fair dealing is not needed where no substantial part of a work is being used, the work has entered the public domain or is available with open access (OA), or a valid licence allows the use in question. In these cases, the work may generally be used without further permissions or clearances.


  1. These guidelines apply fair dealing in the University of Ottawa environment, and provides reasonable safeguards for the owners of copyright-protected works, in accordance with the Copyright Act and relevant Supreme Court decisions.
  2. These guidelines apply to all members of the University community, including the University’s employees, volunteers, students and visitors.


  1. Communicating and reproducing, in paper or electronic form, a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work, is permitted for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire or parody.
  2. Copying or communicating a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work for the purpose of news reporting, criticism or review must mention the source and, if given in the source, the name of the author or creator of the work.
  3. Subject to the fairness test described by the Supreme Court of Canada, a copy of a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work may be provided or communicated to each student enrolled in a class or course:
    • as a handout, distributed in class or by email;
    • as a posting to Virtual Campus that is password protected and restricted to students of the University;
    • as part of a course pack.
  4. A short excerpt may generally be interpreted as:
    • approximately 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work);
    • a chapter from a book;
    • an article from a periodical;
    • an entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, or plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works;
    • an entire newspaper article or page;
    • an entire 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.
  5. Copying or communicating multiple short excerpts from the same copyright-protected work, with the intention of copying or communicating a substantial portion of the entire work, is prohibited. This should not be interpreted as prohibiting the copying or communication of multiple short excerpts that, in total, do not add up to the limits outlined above.
  6. Copying or communicating that exceeds the limits in these fair dealing guidelines can still be permitted, and may be referred to the University’s Copyright Office for evaluation. An evaluation of whether the proposed copying or communication is permitted under fair dealing will be made based on all relevant circumstances.
  7. Any fee charged by the University for communicating or copying a short excerpt from a copyright-protected work must be intended to cover only the costs of the University, including overhead costs.
  8. Amendments to these guidelines may be made by the Copyright Office, as appropriate and in accordance with Canadian copyright law.
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