Answered By: Dan Michniewicz
Last Updated: Jun 14, 2018     Views: 72

Materials found on the Internet are afforded the same copyright protection as print materials. This includes all text, graphics, images, sound, video, news and games available on the Internet, as well as postings to newsgroups and e-mail messages.

Before copying something found on a website (the work also needs to be fully cited), you must consider the six Fair Dealing Factors below and you should only use a legally-posted copy. Content retrieved from password-protected websites cannot be reproduced without consent, though there are some exceptions:

  • Ideas: Copyright protects the way in which information is presented, it does not protect facts, ideas or information. Taking information from another website and expressing it in your own words does not infringe copyright.
  • Public Domain: Material which is in the public domain is not protected by copyright and can be copied freely. Usually fifty years after an author's death, works produced by this author become part of the public domain. An author may also choose to place an item in the public domain by including a notice which grants permission for copying. In this case, there are often conditions on the use of the material, including credit to be given to the author.
  • Titles, names & slogans: Short combinations of words, such as titles, names and slogans, are not generally protected by copyright.

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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
    • This includes whether it is published or unpublished
  6. The effect of the copying on the work
    • Will the copying undermine the market for the work?


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