Get answers to your questions about copyright law.

At Access Copyright, we receive a lot of questions about copyright law and our licensing services. Take a look at some of the answers to these questions below. If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us today.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection. Copyright is a form of protection that automatically arises for an original work fixed in any form and gives automatic rights to copyright holders over their work, such as the sole right to reproduce it or to perform the work in public. Copyright law protects a wide range of works, including, for example, books, journals, newspapers, plays, videos, films, paintings, drawings, and songs.

What is Canada's Copyright Act?

In Canada, the Copyright Act sets out the rights of copyright holders. Since the copyright holder has the sole right to, among other things, produce, reproduce, perform, or publish any translation of the work, and to authorize those acts, permission from the copyright holder is often needed before any of those uses can be made. It is an infringement of copyright to reproduce all or any substantial part of a copyright-protected work without permission of the copyright holder, unless the copying is otherwise allowed under the Copyright Act.

When are copyright permissions required for businesses in Canada?

In an age where information sharing is so commonplace and simple, understanding when copyright permissions can be required under Canada’s copyright law is more important than ever. In the business world, information sharing that takes place on a regular basis includes things like electronically sending articles to colleagues or distributing journal articles or other reference materials as part of your sales and/or marketing processes. When permission is not obtained, the use could be infringing and expose an individual or organization to potentially significant financial liability.

Below are some more specific examples where Canadian businesses can be required to obtain permission:

  • Placing reference material (i.e., articles, publications, policies or standards) on a company intranet site
  • Circulating resources to develop your employees’ skills and knowledge
  • Providing copies of articles or other information resources that are not created and owned by your organization to potential customers as part of your sales and/or marketing processes
  • Distributing photocopies of materials to stakeholders or at conferences
  • Photocopying an article from a paid subscription and distributing the copies to colleagues

If you have questions about copyright clearance relating to your business, please do not hesitate to contact us – we are more than happy to help.

What is Access Copyright?

Access Copyright is a non-profit, national organization, representing tens of thousands of Canadian creators and publishers who create the textbooks, novels, poetry, plays, children’s books, artistic works and more that Canadians reach for everyday.

What does Access Copyright do?

For over 30 years, we have facilitated the remixing and sharing of content combined with an assurance that original creators and publishers also benefit, so they can continue creating new and innovative works.

Access for Business

What is Access for Business?

Access for Business is a licence agreement that provides corporations, not-for-profits, municipalities and other organizations with convenient, pre-cleared permission to copy portions of more than 100-million published titles.

What can I do under Access for Business?

Under Access for Business, you have pre-clearance to copy up to 20% of individual publications in Access Copyright’s extensive repertoire. Distribution of copies of material to an organization’s employees, consultants, volunteers, trainees and members for internal business purposes is covered.

Additionally, you can make copies for and receive copies from other Access for Business licensees, and a single copy can be provided to others outside of your organization upon request, provided it is in connection to your product(s) or service(s). Copies can also be made for a government or other agency related to a regulatory process, such as for a patent application.

Access for Business also offers pay-per-use coverage for the external distribution of copies to others not affiliated with your organization.

Can I request permission to copy over the limits?

Yes, you can request permission to copy beyond the limits of an individual book or periodical. Over-limit permissions, where available, are subject to pay-per-use pricing and can be obtained using the Title Search and Permissions Business Look-Up Tool. For more information, please consult your organization’s licence administrator or Access Copyright at [email protected].

What is the indemnification provided for by Access Copyright under Access for Business?

As long as you and your employees and other individuals covered under Access for Business are following the licence guidelines, Access Copyright will protect you for any liability or loss that results from a claim made against you for copying within the licence terms and conditions. The specifics of the indemnification are found on page 4 and 5 of the licence.

Where can I find more about information about copyright issues at work?

To learn more about issues surrounding copyright at work, please check out our three-part video series.

Pre-2015 Business Licence

What is the Access Copyright pre-2015 business licence?

Our pre-2015 business licence enables the copying and distribution of portions of millions of business, technical, medical, and scientific publications and standards from around the world to everyone in your organization.

If your organization signed a business licence with Access Copyright before 2015 and hasn’t upgraded to the Access for Business licence, your licence secures advanced copyright permissions for the copying and sharing of 10% of the content. Under this licence, you and your colleagues can:

  • Copy, scan, print, fax or email published works in our repertoire to employees
  • Post copyright-protected content on your corporate intranet
  • Share articles from newspapers, journals, and other publications with employees
  • Distribute copyright-protected print material to clients, prospects, or investors through our external distribution service
  • Retain information for archival purposes
How does the pre-2015 business licence compare with Access for Business?

The Access for Business licence, which we introduced in 2015, offers two significant enhancements to coverage under the comprehensive business licence.

Under Access for Business, an organization has pre-clearance to copy up to 20% of individual publications in Access Copyright’s extensive repertoire. As well, Access for Business facilitates pay-per-use coverage for the external distribution of both digital and print copies to others not affiliated with the licensee organization.

Can I distribute digital content internally from services and subscriptions that my organization has purchased?

Yes, provided that the content is covered, and the amount copied is within the allowed limits, the comprehensive business licence provides business and distribution rights that are in addition to any rights you may have from the source where you obtained the content.

How do I know what I can copy?

You can copy portions of any publication in Access Copyright’s extensive repertoire. Use our convenient Title Search and Permissions Business Look-Up Tool to confirm the material you wish to copy is covered.