Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Copyright for Students

Information for students at Centennial College about respecting copyright, library licenses, navigating eReserves and protecting their intellectual property.


Welcome to the Copyright Information Page for Students!


The Canadian Copyright Act

What do students need to know about the Canadian Copyright Act?


Fair Dealing

The most important concept you should know about is the fair dealing exception to infringement, which covers many ways you might use copyright-protected works, both at Centennial and at home. You may have heard of fair use in the United States: the two concepts are related, but Canadian fair dealing differs from fair use in the United States.

Section 29 of the Copyright Act defines fair dealing and lists the exempted activities for which it applies:

29 Fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright.

You can use short excerpts of copyright-protected works without permission or payment for any of the exempted purposes. Criticism, review, and news reporting are also exempted activities, but they have special requirements. Examples of other actions you might take under the exemption include:

  • Writing a nursing research paper with articles from another library—research
  • Reading postmodern poems on Google Books—private study
  • Changing the lyrics of a Drake song for humour—parody
  • Using a short clip from Game of Thrones in a political video—satire
  • Analyzing Star Wars: Rogue One—criticism
  • Listening to Metallica clips before purchasing on iTunes—review
  • Using an uploaded YouTube clip on a local news show—news reporting

The exemptions for research, private study, and education mean that your work at Centennial is covered by fair dealing. Please consult Fair Dealing Explained for more details on the exemption.


Cite the Source

Some of the exempted purposes also require citing the source and author of the work, but in order to avoid plagiarism, you should always cite the source in your work at Centennial:

29.1 Fair dealing for the purpose of criticism or review does not infringe copyright if the following are mentioned:

(a) the source; and
(b) if given in the source, the name of the

(i) author, in the case of a work,
(ii) performer, in the case of a performer’s performance,
(iii) maker, in the case of a sound recording, or
(iv) broadcaster, in the case of a communication signal.

Please consult the Copyright vs. Plagiarism section in for more details.



You can also use copyright-protected works to create new works, such as research papers, presentations, and videos, but there are some exceptions:

29.21 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for an individual to use an existing work or other subject-matter or copy of one, which has been published or otherwise made available to the public, in the creation of a new work or other subject-matter in which copyright subsists and for the individual — or, with the individual’s authorization, a member of their household — to use the new work or other subject-matter or to authorize an intermediary to disseminate it, if

(a) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter is done solely for non-commercial purposes;
(b) the source — and, if given in the source, the name of the author, performer, maker or broadcaster — of the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it are mentioned, if it is reasonable in the circumstances to do so;
(c) the individual had reasonable grounds to believe that the existing work or other subject-matter or copy of it, as the case may be, was not infringing copyright; and
(d) the use of, or the authorization to disseminate, the new work or other subject-matter does not have a substantial adverse effect, financial or otherwise, on the exploitation or potential exploitation of the existing work or other subject-matter — or copy of it — or on an existing or potential market for it, including that the new work or other subject-matter is not a substitute for the existing one.

In other words, make sure that you are using legal copies of copyright-protected works, do not benefit commercially from your project or prevent other copyright holders from benefiting from theirs, and always cite the source.

Copyright vs. Plagiarism

Copyright infringement and plagiarism are related, but they are very different concepts. What is the difference between copyright infringement and plagiarism?

Copyright infringement happens when we copy another person's work without permission or payment. The driving force behind copyright protection is revenue: when we infringe copyright, we steal compensation from copyright holders.

Plagiarism happens when we claim another person's ideas as our own, which is an academic offense and unrelated to copyright. Whenever you do not mention using another person's ideas in your work, you commit plagiarism—always.

You can follow Canadian copyright laws and still commit plagiarism. For example, you can perform the following actions legally, but still commit plagiarism if you do not acknowledge the source:

  • Read an online journal article through the library website, then restate the argument in your own words for a group presentation
  • Copy an entire e-book chapter under the fair dealing exemption for education, then submit it as a research paper
  • Include one paragraph from an open-access publication for an assignment
  • Adapt several diagrams from a public domain print book for a report

Respecting copyright and avoiding plagiarism is simple: research and write your own work, and always acknowledge others when you use their work—whether you are quoting them or not. These requirements are not unreasonable, since your instructors already expect you to follow them.

Citation Help

Creating proper citations for your work can seem daunting, but the library has resources to answer your questions!

chat loading...