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Information about respecting Canadian copyright law in your work at Centennial.

What's in this guide?

It is important that faculty, staff, and students of Centennial College respect Canadian copyright law. This guide will help you understand the basics of copyright and point you to further resources about the use of copyright-protected works. 

In addition to this informational guide, we offer one-on-one consultations, drop-in sessions, classroom sessions and more. 


What is copyright?

Despite its importance, copyright is often a misunderstood concept. What exactly is copyright?

Copyright is a legal concept that protects a person's economic and moral rights to any literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works they create. Only copyright holders can reproduce, distribute, and share these works with others, or permit others to do so.

In other words, copyright is the right to copy.

Copyright Decision Tree

Copyright Decision Tree

The Copyright Decision Tree provides steps to determine whether you can use a copyright protected work in the way you would like to, both for teaching and for other purposes. Use this in conjunction with other information on this website.

Find more downloadable resources from the copyright team: Resources & Downloads.


Quick Facts

  • Copyright is automatic. While you can use the copyright symbol © to bring attention to copyright notices, Canadian law does not require its use. When you create works, they are automatically protected by copyright.


  • Creators are not always copyright holders. In many cases, creators assign copyright to third parties (but see the next section about moral rights), usually when they are working under contract for another person or institution.


  • Canadian copyright lasts for 70 years after the creator's death. When this happens, the work enters the public domain anyone can freely use the work.


  • Not all works are protected by copyright. Copyright protects expressions, not ideas, so everything from facts, numerical data, and ideas cannot be copyrighted. Other works enter the public domain upon creation, such as United States government publications. 


  • The internet is not public domain. Works published through the internet are handled no differently than print media. Making works freely available does not free them from copyright.


  • Copyright is not the same as trademarks and patents. These three concepts operate under the umbrella term of intellectual property, but they are separate, and the laws governing trademarks and patents are more restrictive than copyright legislation. Consult a legal professional if you have questions about trademarks or patents.

Economic & moral rights

Copyright assigns two types of rights to copyright holders:

  • Economic rights control how and whether works are used for economic gain. These rights are transferrable, and can be assigned and licensed to others.


  • Moral rights include rights to integrity, association, and attribution, ensuring that creators’ professional reputation is not adversely affected by others using their work. These rights are not transferrable.


Note: 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.  The Copyright Services Librarian is not a lawyer or legal expert in copyright law and is able to provide a professional and not a legal opinion. A professional opinion is offered for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.  

Contact us


General Inquiries:

Gosha Trzaski
Senior Library Technician
Progress Campus
416-289-5000 ext. 5406




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