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Copyright & Fair Dealing

Can I provide my class with copies of one chapter from a book?

YES: a single copy or a short excerpt  from a copyright-protected work may be provided or communicated to each student enrolled in a class or course at Mount Saint Vincent University (distance or on-campus). You cannot copy an entire work (book, journal, or magazine).

When do I need to request permission?

Any substantial use of a copyrighted work that falls beyond the conditions of the fair dealing or educational exceptions requires the permission of the copyright holder. As a general rule, if you are copying more than 10% of a work or one single article, chapter, image, or poem from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works, you may need to seek permission or check to see if the Library has a license for this type of use.

Remember it is always an option to request permission from the copyright holder. The Library will be pleased to assist with this process.

Best practices for copying and distributing copies from a book or ebook

  • A short excerpt is commonly interpreted as 10% of a work or 1 single article, chapter, image, or poem from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works.
  • In an online class site (e.g. Moodle) or when communicating by email, the best practice is to link to ebooks, via the Library, or if there is a legal copy available online. If you must scan or digitize multiple chapters from a variety of books do not create a single file. This will be considered an anthology.
  • When using books or chapters from the Library's licensed ebooks, please keep in mind that usage of these resources is governed by license agreements, in addition to copyright. It is always preferable to link to these resources when distributing them for educational purposes.
  • Materials licensed by the Mount Saint Vincent University Library may have different conditions. For example the amount that may be printed from an e-book may vary from 5% to 20% depending on the publisher.
  • In a face to face class, do not staple several chapters together.  This will become an anthology or a course pack. This scenario is better handled via commercial photocopy services which subscribe to an Access Copyright licence.
  • Your handouts must be fee of charge to all students.
  • Avoid systematic or accumulative handouts that in essence would amount to copying an entire book in small installments.
  • Do not copy works that you suspect have been copied themselves or posted online without the consent of the copyright holder.
  • Public Domain and most Open Access and Creative Commons licensed material can be copied and handed out in the classroom freely.
  • Please make sure that all work is properly cited.

What about charts and tables?

Charts and tables are protected by copyright like images. Did you know that ideas cannot be copyrighted? Copyright protects the original words or images that express an idea. You can recreate graphs and tables from raw data without infringing on the copyright of the original creators.

Copying the ideas of others without giving credit is plagiarism. Always provide credit for the original source of ideas and data when writing a paper, or creating charts and diagrams!

What about book jackets and covers?

A book cover or jacket is a creative work and the creator is generally not the author of the book itself. If using the fair dealing exception, please weigh the criteria carefully. Although the use may be educational and not for profit, the book cover is art or photography and not part of the book, so its use does not fall within the usual 10% excerpt from a book. Obtaining permission would be the favored option but often the publisher is not the copyright holder for the book jacket and only has permission to reproduce with the book.  Obtaining permission from the actual copyright holder could be time consuming and difficult. If after careful consideration your use of a book cover falls within the fair dealing exception, it is recommended to  use thumbnail, low resolution images if available.

What about case studies?

Some books contain additional content (e.g. a case study) that has been licensed by the authors for inclusion in the book. This additional content often includes a note explaining the terms of the license, and it should be treated as a separate work from the rest of the chapter or book.