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


These guidelines have been developed to help Centennial students, faculty, and employees respect copyright, and were written with reference to the Copyright Act, judgments from the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Centennial College Fair Dealing Policy for Copyright-Protected Work.

Before you can use copyright-protected works in the classroom, your proposed copying must pass two tests:

  • Educational use passes the first test: you must use the work for instruction or training purposes on Centennial grounds to a group consisting mostly of Centennial students.
  • The second test concerns the fairness of the copying.

The following section will help you evaluate whether your proposed copying tends towards fairness. They are not legal counsel. The unique circumstances of each situation may influence the fairness of your proposed copying.

Please contact us if you have any additional questions.

Fair dealing Step 2: Fairness

The fairness of any proposed copying may be influenced by six factors, which you must consider before copying and sharing works with your students. These questions are designed to help you evaluate whether your proposed copying tends towards fairness.

If you have further questions, please consult Fair Dealing Explained or contact us.

  1. The purpose of the copying
    Will you copy the work for one of the exempted purposes—research, private study, education, criticism & review, news reporting, parody, and satire?

  2. The amount of the copying
    How much will you copy? How much of the total work does the copying represent?

  1. The character of the copying
    How broadly will you distribute copies of the work? How will you restrict access to them?

  1. Alternatives to copying the work
    Can you access the same work, or an equivalent, through library databases? Are there non-copyrighted or freely available alternatives?

  2. The nature of the work
    Has the work been previously published? Copying unpublished or confidential documents tends towards unfairness.

  1. The effect of the copying on the work
    Will your copying negatively impact the market value of the work?

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.


Summary by Material Type

Source Y/N Details Explanation
Print Insubstantial portion

Examples of short excerpts include:

  • Not more than 10% of a work
  • One chapter from a book
  • One article from a journal issue
  • One work from a compilation of works

Workbooks and other resources that students should purchase cannot be shared.

Short excerpt (see Fair Dealing Policy)
Exams and testing
Substitutes for purchasing course text
Personal licence
Online Publicly accessible

You can use publicly accessible online material without limitation, as long as it was posted by or with the consent of the copyright holder.

Make sure that you do not have to enter a password or bypass a paywall to access the content, and that there are no notices that prohibit educational use.

Use the Creative Commons meta-search to find freely shareable online content.

Legitimately posted
Short excerpt (see Fair Dealing Policy)
Digital lock
Clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use
Images Print sources

Images include visual artwork like photographs and paintings, but also organized content such as charts, tables, and data visualizations.

You cannot use more than one image from a source under the fair dealing exemption, so you may need to find many different sources to meet your needs.

Use the Creative Commons meta-search to find freely shareable online images.

Please consult Images for more information.

Online sources
More than one image per source
Images from paid subscription services (Shutterstock, Getty Images)
Playing in the classroom

You can play legally purchased copies of video content in the classroom only. You can also play audio recordings and streamed video from Centennial Libraries for your students.

Paying for streaming or licensed content is not the same as ownership. If your streaming service or licensed content provider includes a "personal use only" clause, you cannot play their material for your students.

You can play news programs and performances while they air, or record and play them at a later date (Copyright Act, 29.5-6).

Uploading file to eCentennial
Infringing copy
Personal-use Subscription (Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, etc.)
YouTube Playing in the classroom

You can play and share YouTube videos with your students, but they must have been posted by the copyright holder or with their consent. 

When uploaders acknowledge that they are not the copyright holder, you cannot use their videos.

Check uploader information by exploring their user profile. Some uploaders may have verified identities.

You should always check for notices that prohibit educational use.

Use the embed code function to place videos in eCentennial, do not download the file.

Permission is required to produce a transcript or add captioning to a video.

Legitimately posted
Clearly visible notice prohibiting educational use

Creating mash-ups

Y/N Details Explanation
Infringing copy

You can adapt short excerpts of copyrighted works to create new works (Copyright Act, 29.21):

  • Slide presentations
  • Tables and diagrams
  • Instructional videos
Commercial use
Harms market of original work



Centennial adopted the fair dealing policy drafted by Colleges & Institutes Canada (CICan, formerly ACCC). The policy was developed with reference to the Canadian Copyright Act and governs all copying and distribution of copyright-protected work, performed in connection with the educational work of the College, that uses the fair dealing exemption. Students and faculty must stay within the guidelines of the policy when using the exemption.

At a Glance

The table below can help you determine whether and how you can share a resource with your students. You should start at the top and work your way down until you find the appropriate tier for your resource.

 No matter where your resource appears in the table, you should always cite your source.

Restrictions Resources Action


Insubstantial portions (½ page or less)

U.S. government publications

Your own works

Public domain materials

Copy and share these materials without worry.


Materials licensed by the library

Open access publications

You can usually share these materials with your students, but we recommend using links.

Use CLEAR to check the permitted uses for library resources.


Online materials

You can usually share these materials with your students, but we recommend using links.

You must also ensure that:

  • The material was uploaded by, or with the consent of, the copyright holder

  • There are no digital locks preventing access to the resource

  • There are no clearly visible notices that prohibit how you want to use the resource


Materials not licensed by the library

Works not freely available online

You may be able to share short excerpts of these works with your students. See the Centennial College Fair Dealing Policy to ensure that you stay within the fair dealing limits, or contact us about negotiating copyright permissions for more substantial copying.

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