Copyright Corner: Sharing resources with colleagues

by Lana MacEachern on 2024-03-01T08:30:00-04:00 in Copyright, Copyright Corner, Journal Club, Research | 0 Comments

We're often asked whether it is OK to share copyright-protected resources with colleagues. The answer is, “it depends.”

Canadian copyright law gives copyright owners the right to determine how their works may be copied or distributed. The law does not distinguish between internal and external distribution. Internal distribution can include:

  • Attaching a PDF of an article to an email
  • Saving an image to a SharePoint site
  • Storing an ebook on a shared drive

In each of these instances, you are essentially making a copy of the work for every person who has access to those shared workspaces.

Before hitting ‘Send’ or ‘Save’:

  1. Read the terms of use. Journals, websites, and electronic databases often state explicitly how their content can be used. For example, they may permit distribution for educational purposes, or downloading for personal use only. You must use the content as directed and get permission to share if necessary. Look for terms of use in the fine print of websites. If you have questions about terms of use for journals or electronic databases, email Copyright@nshealth.ca.
  2. Determine if your use is Fair Dealing. Canadian copyright law allows limited use of short excerpts of copyrighted works without getting permission. You may be allowed to share a work if your use is for research, private study, education, parody or satire, criticism, review, or news reporting and it meets conditions determined by Canadian courts. Examples might include sharing an article with a Nova Scotia Health colleague for collaborative research, or with students in an in-person lecture. Learn more about Fair Dealing.
  3. Share a link to the resource if possible! It is generally considered copyright compliant to share a link to an electronic resource. Linking to the original document also ensures that if a document is updated or revised, readers are directed to the most recent version.

To learn more about best practices for sharing articles with colleagues, check out our new ‘Copyright Minute’ video, below. You can also contact us any time at Copyright@nshealth.ca.

Copyright - A Copyright Minute: Sharing Articles with Colleagues

Nova Scotia Health, 2023.

Lana MacEachern

Library Technician
Pictou/Colchester-East Hants/Cumberland Region

Roxanne MacMillan

Librarian Educator
Halifax Infirmary, Central Zone

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