Frequently asked questions about copyright from UBC students.
- 4.1 Do I own copyright in my work?
- 4.2 What can I legally copy?
- 4.3 Are there any databases of copyrighted materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?
- 4.4 Can I get the UBC Library to send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan service?
- 4.5 Why is there a fee for copyrighted material used in custom course packs?
- 4.6 Who do I talk to at UBC if I have a copyright question?
- 4.7 How can I get more information about copyright?
- 4.8 I work as a teaching assistant. Where can I learn more about copyright with respect to teaching?
- 4.9 I work as a research assistant. Where can I learn more about copyright with respect to research?
- 4.10 What are the rules around using copyrighted materials in conference presentations?
- 4.11 Where can I find images that can be used without permission?
4.1 Do I own copyright in my work?
Yes. Undergraduate students retain copyright in all works created during their course of study. Graduate students retain copyright in their own works (including theses) unless a research contract in support of the student’s work dictates otherwise.
However, if you are a graduate student, upon submission of your dissertation or thesis, you will be required to allow the University Library to post your dissertation or thesis in cIRcle, UBC’s digital repository, as well as permit Library and Archives Canada to preserve and make your dissertation or thesis available on the Internet and searchable databases. These licenses clearly stipulate that you own the copyright to your dissertation or thesis, but that you have allowed “non-exclusive” use of your dissertation or thesis to the University Library and Library and Archives Canada.
4.2 What can I legally copy?
You may copy materials for which you have the copyright holder’s permission. This includes making copies from materials that the university has licensed (check the terms of UBC’s digital licence for the specific e-journal or e-book provided by the UBC Library). Please contact email@example.com for assistance to confirm whether the terms of the UBC digital licence allows your use.
Fair dealing allows you to make copies for yourself for the purposes of education, private study, research, review, criticism, parody, satire, or news reporting, so long as your dealing is fair. Please review the Copyright Guidelines for UBC Faculty, Staff, and Students and Fair Dealing in Practice for more information.
4.3 Are there any databases of copyrighted materials that I can use for free without worrying about copyright?
However, works that are made available under a Creative Commons license (and other open licencing platforms) are generally available for free, subject to certain conditions specified in the licence, such as non-commercial use only and acknowledgment of the author. It is important to consider whether your use of Creative Commons materials complies with the terms of the license. Visit the Creative Commons website for more information or check out their content directories which list audio, video, image and text materials available under Creative Commons licensing. Also see UBC’s Creative Commons Guide for additional information.
4.4 Can I get the UBC Library to send me electronic copies of articles using the interlibrary loan service?
The UBC Library may request articles to be electronically transmitted to the UBC Library from another library, in either print or electronic form.
Interlibrary loans may be subject to a fee and other requirements. In particular, if what you are requesting is a short excerpt of a work, a copy may be made and provided to you under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act. In this situation, it may be possible for the other university library to send you the copy through the UBC Library interlibrary loan service, but the loan will be subject to that university’s fair dealing policies or requirements. For more information, see UBC’s Interlibrary Loan website.
4.5 Why is there a fee for copyrighted material used in custom course packs?
The price of course packs produced by the UBC Bookstore include the costs of production, and fees paid to obtain any necessary copyright permission. Note that materials included in a course pack under the fair dealing exception or a UBC electronic resources license are included in course packs without additional copyright fees (only the production costs apply).
Where copyright permission is sought, copyright holders and creators of works may charge a fee for the use of their materials. These fees vary, usually based on the number of pages or excerpts copied and the number of copies made.
4.6 Who do I talk to at UBC if I have a copyright question?
See this page listing copyright contacts at UBC.
4.7 How can I get more information about copyright?
Key UBC copyright resources are posted on this website. See in particular:
- Copyright Guidelines for UBC Faculty, Staff, and Students (and flowchart)
- Fair Dealing Requirements for UBC Faculty and Staff
- Copyright Requirements for UBC Faculty and Staff
4.8 I work as a teaching assistant. Where can I learn more about copyright with respect to teaching?
Teaching activities are often part of the process of obtaining a university degree. For assistance with finding and preparing copyright-compliant materials for your courses, please review the information provided in the faculty section of this website.
For questions related to copyright in your teaching materials, please contact the Copyright Office.
4.9 I work as a research assistant. Where can I learn more about copyright with respect to research?
Research activities are a core component of many graduate degrees. For information about using other people’s copyrighted work in your research, please review the information in UBC’s Theses and Dissertations Guide and the Author Rights page.
Copying for the purpose of research may also be covered by the fair dealing exception. For a background on fair dealing generally, please see the Copyright Guidelines for Faculty, Staff and Students. For a discussion of how fair dealing operates with respect to research conducted by UBC faculty (which may or may not be analogous to your situation), see Fair Dealing in Practice.
For questions related to copyright in your research, please contact the Copyright Office.
4.10 What are the rules around using copyrighted materials in conference presentations?
If a conference presentation will be displayed or distributed to an audience that is not comprised primarily of UBC students or faculty, then using someone else’s images or figures in the presentation would not fall within UBC’s Fair Dealing Requirements, and would also generally not be permitted under the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act.
It should be noted that the fair dealing exception may apply to these instances of copying, but a separate fair dealing analysis must be undertaken to ensure compliance with the Copyright Act. For assistance with this analysis, please contact us. If fair dealing is not available, then you can always seek permission from the copyright owner.
If you are considering using third-party-owned copyrighted material in conference materials, and you conclude that your use is not possible without the copyright owner’s permission, which is impossible or impractical for you to obtain, the following considerations may be helpful:
- Consider whether the amount of the material you’re using can be reduced so that it falls within the limits of fair dealing. (Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the application of fair dealing in your particular circumstances.)
- Consider directing your audience to the materials, rather than copying the materials. For example:
- Provide a link to digital content, such as news articles, YouTube videos, images, etc.
- Create a persistent link to online material or journal articles
- Consider alternative materials, and in particular:
- Material for which you own rights (e.g. material that you have created and have not relinquished the copyright – such as to your publisher)
- Material for which the university already has a license that allows for use in conference materials
- Open Access or Creative Commons-licensed material
- Materials that are in the public domain
4.11 Where can I find images that can be used without permission?
- With respect to images in particular, some websites allow you to search specifically for images that have been licensed for reuse or that are in the public domain. There are some excellent resources for finding these types of images, including:
- Wikimedia Commons: A database of nearly 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. To find any specific instructions for reusing or attributing images, check the “licensing” section on the image page.
- Flickr Commons: A wonderful collection of public domain images from a variety of libraries, archives, and museums, including the Library of Congress, NASA, the Getty Research Institute, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and many more.
- Creative Commons Search: A meta-search tool which can be used to find CC-licensed images on Google Images, Fotopedia, Europeana, etc., as well as other CC-licensed works.
For more image resources, have a look at our Image Sources Guide. For information on how to attribute Creative Commons-licensed images, see our Image Citation Guide. And of course, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Text for some of the above FAQs was originally adapted from and University of Saskatchewan Copyright by the University of Saskatchewan, licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Licence. UBC’s FAQs are licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 Licence with permission from the University of Saskatchewan.