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Copyright for Instructors

The basics of Canadian copyright

Explore the sections below for more information on basics of Canadian copyright: 


What governs copyright in Canada?

Copyright in Canada is governed by: 

  • Canadian Copyright Act,
  • judicial precedent,
  • international treaties

At Langara, use of copyright-protected content must also abide by license agreements between the College and content providers.

These form the foundation of Langara's copyright policies and directives. 


Types of works protected

Copyright protects the expression of an idea, rather than the idea itself, and applies to all original:

  • Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (ie. books, plays, films, photographs, drawings, paintings, sculptures, computer code etc.)
  • Sound recordings (ie. lectures, music)
  • Performances (ie. dance, song, theatrical performance)
  • Communications (ie. radio, broadcasts)


The copyright symbol we are accustomed to seeing (©) is a visual reminder a work is protected by copyright, but is not mandatory.

Copyright exists as soon as a work is fixed in print or digital format. Examples:

  • Print - as soon as something is written down, ie. lecture notes or a diary
  • Digital - as soon as the work is saved, ie. to a computer hard drive 
  • Photographs - as soon as the photograph is taken, on analog film or digital

Creators also have the option to register their copyright with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This is optional, but serves as proof of ownership if needed. 


Copyright in Canada lasts for the life of the creator +70 years. When copyright expires, works enter the public domain. 

Unless there is a clear indication that a work you would like to use is in the public domain, the safest approach is to assume it is protected by copyright. 


Public Domain

When copyright expires, a work enters the public domain and can be used freely without payment or permission from the copyright owner. 

Copyright owners may also choose to waive their rights and dedicate a work to the public domain. 

For information on how to locate works in the public domain, visit the Alternatives to Copyright page on this guide.  


There is no international copyright law. Instead, countries around the world have signed international copyright treaties that outline minimum standards signatory countries must follow. 

Canada is a signatory of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. One condition of the treaty is "National Treatment". This means that all 176 Berne signatory countries treat works from other countries as they would their own. 

So, if you are in Canada and using a copyright protected work published in France, you will follow Canadian copyright law. 


Copyright infringement occurs when a person does something with a copyright-protected work that only the copyright owner is entitled to do, and does so without the copyright owner's permission.

Students, staff, and faculty at Langara have an individual responsibility to act in accordance with the Copyright Act and the College's copyright policies and directives.


Still have questions? Contact the Copyright Office.

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The information obtained from or through this website is provided as guidelines for using works for educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

Creative Commons License

Langara's copyright website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.