Learning Module:

Fair Dealing

What is copyright?

When an original literary, dramatic, artistic or musical work is created, the author is granted a set of legal rights specified under the Copyright Act i.

Copyright generally grants the author or copyright owner the exclusive right to copy and communicate their work, or permit others to do the same.

Are there exceptions to copyright?

In certain contexts, it is beneficial for the public to have access to a work without needing approval from the copyright-holder. The Copyright Act specifies a number of exceptions through which a work may be used without permission.

For the University of Ottawa, one of the most important of these exceptions is fair dealing.

"Fair dealing" is synonymous with "fair use."

  1. True
  2. False

Although similar in principle, these are distinct legal terms used by different nations. While Canadian copyright law applies "fair dealing", United States copyright law applies "fair use".

fair deal·ing (fer-ˈdēliNG)

An exception to copyright in Canada that allows you to legally use a protected work without permission as long as the use is deemed "fair".

The applicability of fair dealing is determined using a two-step test...


Does the purpose for using the work fall into one of the eight categories listed in the Copyright Act?

The applicability of fair dealing is determined using a two-step test...


Does your use of the work seem fair considering the six fairness factors defined by the Supreme Court?



Since 2012, the Copyright Act has stated that the purpose of a dealing must fall into one of 8 categories:



Private Study



News Reporting



Which of the following fair dealing purposes are specifically named in the Copyright Act?

  1. Research
  2. News Reporting
  3. Education
  4. Parody
  5. Satire
  6. Redistribution
  7. Criticism
  8. Review
  9. Monetary Gain
  10. Private Study

Fairness factors

Once Step 1 is passed, Step 2 can be applied to determine fairness.

Although the Copyright Act broadly outlines the fair dealing exception, Supreme Court precedents i show that there is no absolute or fixed definition of what use is considered "fair".


Fairness factors

Instead, fairness must be determined case-by-case using 6 fairness factors:

Is your use of a work for one of the eight purposes described in the Copyright Act?

How many copies of the work are you making and will they eventually be destroyed?

How much of the work is being copied and how important is the work?

Does a non-copyrighted equivalent work exist for you to copy (e.g., a work in the public domain)?

Has the work you are copying already been published?

Will your copy be competing with the original work?

Although some situations may call for the consideration of other factors,i a dealing that seems fair according to these 6 factors is likely permissible.

For example, making a copy of a periodical article for personal use in research would likely be fair dealing.

Similarly, reading short passages of a book in a presentation critiquing the work would also likely be fair dealing.

In order to guide your application of fair dealing in an educational context, consult the University’s Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Fair Dealing Guidelines

The Fair Dealing Guidelines generally state that a short excerpt may be copied or communicated to every student enrolled in a class or course.

Approximately what portion of each type of work should be usable according to the University's Fair Dealing Guidelines?

    1. Book

      • Periodical

        • Dictionary

          • Sound Recording

            The Fair Dealing Guidelines take the two-step process of determining fairness and interpret it through an educational lens. They should provide you with the tools to cautiously use copyright-protected materials while minimizing risk of infringement.

            Using your knowledge of the two-step process, which of the following likely qualify as fair dealing at the University?

            1. Posting a newspaper article on your personal website
            2. Sharing a chapter of a book with your students on Blackboard
            3. Copying 10% of a book and selling it to your students
            4. Emailing students a full copy of a copyright-protected sound recording

            Congratulations, you have completed the Copyright Learning Module on Fair Dealing!

            Need more information about fair dealing and copyright law?
            Contact us!