Answered By: Dan Michniewicz
Last Updated: Mar 25, 2020     Views: 693

Fair Dealing is a section of Canadian copyright law that allows certain uses of copyrighted materials without permission or payment of royalties as long as the use meets one of the purposes set out in the Copyright Act.

The #1 rule for this section of the law is that copying must be for “education, research, private study, criticism or review, news reporting, parody or satire” (Section 29). So students qualify under “private study”.

To claim fair dealing you must also mention the source, author, maker, performer, broadcaster, etc., so always cite your work!

Before you copy, you need to know:

  • What "fair" means
  • If your copying meets the 6 fair dealing factors

What does "Fair" mean?

Seneca's Fair Dealing Policy sets out the guidelines, but in short, copying can be done for the purposes of research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, or parody, as long as the the copying is only of a short excerpt and credit is given.

A short excerpt means:

  1. Up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work),
  2. One chapter from a book,
  3. A single article from a periodical,
  4. An entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works,
  5. An entire newspaper article or page,
  6. An entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores, and
  7. An entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work.

Copying multiple short excerpts from the same work, or the work as a whole, is prohibited.  


The 6 Fair Dealing Factors

You must consider the following Fair Dealing Factors before you copy or distribute a work:

  1. The purpose of the copying
    • Is the copying for one of the following purposes: education, research, private study, criticism or review, news reporting, parody or satire?
    • The copy is not meant to replace your course text
  2. The amount of the copying
    • How much is being copied? One chapter from a book or one article from a journal may be considered fair.
  3. The character of the copying
    • How broadly will the work be distributed? Will it be accessible only to eligible students?
  4. Alternatives to copying the work
    • Is the same or equivalent work available in the library databases? Is there a non-copyrighted alternative?
  5. The nature of the work
    • including whether it is published or unpublished
  6. The effect of the copying on the work
    • Will the copying undermine the market for the work?


Is there an easy way to determine if I can copy something?

Try the Fair Dealing Analysis Tool or check out Types of Materials for some clarifying examples (use the drop down arrows to navigate).

Need a second opinion? Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have at


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