This resource guide has information on copyright, using images, and sharing articles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Current Canadian copyright legislation does not define limits around exactly how much content can be requested from a single work. This relates to the concept of “fair dealing,” which is not fully defined in the current legislation. Many libraries limit lending to one article per journal issue.

Once an article comes to Canada, its use is governed by Canadian copyright law.

No, copying articles to distribute is not allowed. “Fair dealing” allows you to make one single copy of an article for your own use, but you cannot distribute copies to others. To make copies to hand out, you must get permission from the copyright owner. Source: C-42, section 27.

Copyright Tip: Copy and give out the citation and abstract. Advise colleagues to check the library for access to the full article, or to request it through document delivery.

Most journal publishers own the copyright for articles published in their journals. As the author, you need to get permission from the publisher to distribute your own work. The publisher may supply you with reprints of your article - those you can distribute.

You cannot distribute an article or chapter electronically. You can send others a link to the article or e-book chapter.

Copyright Tip: If the article is indexed in PubMed, send the PubMed link. If the article is not in PubMed see the library's guide to Sharing Articles for more information.

The publishers' “Permissions” or “Legal Notices” section will give you information about what you are allowed to do with their content. The quickest solution is to send a link to the article. You are always able to send a link to the article.

Copyright Tip: Access the freely available work through Google Scholar and share the associated link. It is always legal to send a link to the article.

Yes, if the digital copy of the article is owned by the library, we can send you a digital copy. If we get a digital copy of an article from another library, we can send you the digital copy with this limitation: You must physically print the article if you want to keep it; and stop using and discard the digital copy after 5 business days from first use. The digital copy must not be stored, forwarded or distributed. (Source: C-42, section 30.2 (5.02).) When we send articles to you, we will put a notice in the email so you will know for which articles you must destroy the digital copy.

The rules around using copyrighted materials appropriately in a new work can be challenging. Unless permission to use the image is granted by an open license or by the copyright owner's terms of use, you must get permission. You can request Library Services' help to obtain permission by submitting our Copyright Permissions Form. We also ask that you report any permissions you obtain yourself using this form.

Visit the Using Images page of this guide for more information.


Source: C-42, section 29.21.

Given our interpretation of Fair Dealing, the answer may be yes, if:

  • the overall presentation itself is an original work
  • the presentation is not for commercial purposes
  • you cite the source of the image
  • use of the image does not adversely affect the copyright owner


Copyright Tip: The appropriate use of original images like cartoons or photographs can be complicated. For educational purposes, it is not an infringement of copyright to “display” the work, e.g. by overhead projection, but you are not allowed to “publish” the image by using it in your handouts or in any online reposting of your slides etc. You must get permission or find a free-to-use alternative. Visit the library’s guide on Using Images for resources and more information. Source: C-42, section 29.21; see also section 29.4(1).

Use a citation manager such as Zotero to store article(s). You’ll have the article(s) for use later on and can share the citations with your colleagues. Source: C-42, section 27(1) and (2.3).

Yes. Products obtained legally may be used in creating original works without permission, as long as you comply with the terms of use.

For example, Nova Scotia Health's Microsoft 365 licence may provide you with access to royalty-free images, icons and other content that you can use in your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, BUT you are not permitted to copy and paste, or save these resources for use outside of Microsoft Office.

Refer to: Microsoft's What am I allowed to use premium creative content for?.

Yes, there are special exceptions in the Copyright Act that allow libraries to make copies in a different format or for preservation purposes. Source: C-42, section 30.1.

Do not circumvent works with a digital lock. There are some specific exceptions in the Act for disabled clients, creating systems inter-operability, law enforcement, and encryption research. Source: C-42, section 41.1.

No, unless you have purchased Public Performance rights for the work. Movie theatres purchase Public Performance rights for the movies they play, and this is the same type of circumstance. Individuals may play DVD recordings for their own private use and educational institutions may play DVDs in the classroom for teaching purposes. These exceptions do not cover a hospital playing a DVD recording at a public event. Source: C-42, section 80(2d).

No, unless you have purchased Public Performance rights for the works you intend to play. This is the same situation for radio broadcasters who purchase the right to broadcast the music they play. Individuals may play audio recordings for themselves and make copies of them for their own personal use. Educational institutions may play music in a classroom setting for teaching purposes, but these exceptions do not extend to a hospital playing audio recordings at a public event. Source: C-42, section 80(2d).

Copyright Tip: You can pay for the right to use music. Contact the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) for pricing.

Yes. Since there is no copying or saving of the work it is not an infringement of copyright.

No. Unless there is an agreement between you and your employer to the contrary, copyright belongs to your employer. Source: C-42,section 13(3)

Source: Adapted from  Figurski J, McDiarmid M. A Guide to Copyright for Canadian Hospitals 2013: An Instructional Resource. Ontario Health Libraries Association (OHLA) website. OHLA Guide to Copyright 2013. Accessed September 24, 2014.