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

Open access

“Open Access (OA) is an international social justice movement that advocates making scholarly research, post-secondary textbooks, and teaching materials available to all, for free regardless of socioeconomic standing, and usually with no copyright or licensing restrictions.

It is about unlocking the doors to knowledge and sharing research results with everyone. Furthermore, funding agencies, such as NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR are now supporting the movement by requiring grant recipients to publish in open access journals or to ensure that the research is publicly made available within a year of publishing.”

(Source: Centennial College Open Access LibGuide,, emphasis added)

OA works are meant to be shared, because their authors believe that making content available to everyone benefits everyone, and that it enhances innovation and development.

You can usually share and adapt OA content with your students, provided that you acknowledge the source. However, you should always check for licensing restrictions, even for OA publications: look for references to educational use on websites, which you can usually find on the Copyright, Usage Terms, or Important Notices pages.

Please consult the Open Access guide for more information and to explore OA resources.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licences help authors control how others use their work, and are easy to understand. Each allows copying and sharing as long as the creator receives credit, plus additional permissions or limitations.

Creative Commons licences Examples of online works
  • CC-BY: You may share and adapt the work. (Most accommodating)
  • CC-BY-SA: You may share and adapt the work, but adaptations must be under the same licence. (Wikipedia)
  • CC-BY-ND: You may share the work, but only in whole.
  • CC-BY-NC: You may share and adapt the work, but only for non-commercial purposes.
  • CC-BY-NC-SA: You may share and adapt the work, but only for non-commercial purposes, and adaptations must be under the same licence.
  • CC-BY-NC-ND: You may share the work, but only in whole, and only for non-commercial purposes. (Most restrictive)
  • Online journal articles
  • Scholarly e-books
  • Images & photos
  • Charts, tables, & figures
  • Videos & audio
  • Lesson plans & rubrics
  • Digital images & photos
  • News reporting
  • Industry & government reports
  • Professional & non-professional blogs
  • Collaborative projects like wikis


The internet makes the free exchange of ideas possible. Ideas cannot be copyrighted, but their expressions can be. This has become very important since the development of Web 2.0 technologies—blogs, wikis, and social media—because now, with almost no technical expertise needed, everyone can become a creator.

You cannot take works from the internet and share or repurpose them without permission: the Canadian Copyright Act protects them no differently than print books.

But what about people who want their works to be shared?

Finding resources

Many search engines and media-sharing websites let you filter by usage rights: you will only see results that you can share. You should always double-check the usage rights for every resource you use, and if you need to change the work—for example, by modifying the text of a blog post or adding new data to an infographic or table—make sure to filter your results to allow adaptation.

Use the Creative Commons meta-search to search many different sources from one search bar, including GoogleFlickr, and Wikimedia Commons. The search feature also allows filtering for adaptation and commercial use.

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