In cases where you wish to make use of a work and your desired use is not covered by an existing licence or exception in the Copyright Act, you must receive the permission of the copyright holder. The following are a set of resources and guidelines that will assist you to locate the copyright holder(s) of a work and obtain the appropriate copyright permissions.

Locating the Copyright Holder

It’s important to remember that the author or creator may or may not be the copyright holder. Publishers often ask authors to sign copyright over to them in exchange for publishing the work. The best place to start when identifying the copyright holder is to look at the title page – or equivalent – for a name next to a © symbol or a copyright claim statement. This would be the person or organization to contact for permission. Remember, if an author has signed copyright over to a publisher or other party they are not able to either grant or deny permission to copy, regardless of how they feel about the re-use of their work (though they can still assert moral rights). In some cases an author/creator or publisher will assign the work of clearing permissions to a copyright collective and should direct you accordingly.

In the absence of a copyright statement you should begin by trying to find the author/creator for permission. If they no longer hold the copyright they should be able to direct you to the copyright holder. If the identity of the author/creator is not clear then begin by trying to find the publisher, distributor, or any other organization that appears to be connected to the work. Also, The Canadian Intellectual Property Office maintains a searchable Canadian Copyrights Database. This is not an exhaustive database so the absence of a work from this database does not mean there is no copyright owner. For copyrights registered in the USA the US Copyright Office offers a similar tool.

If after a reasonable and diligent search you are unable to find the copyright holder you can contact the Copyright Board of Canada and request permission from them. See their website for more information on unlocatable copyright owners.

Submitting Permission Requests

When submitting a request it should be in writing (e-mail is fine). If the permission is for a course, request for “the life of the course” rather than a specific semester or year (which would leave you to request permission again). Information you should provide as part of the request includes: exactly what you want to copy, the course name, number of copies you want to make and/or the number of students expected in your course per year, whether you will be distributing the material in print or electronic format, and whether electronic distribution is in a password protected environment. Make sure to start early, it takes time to obtain permissions (allow 6-8 weeks for a response). The retention and destruction of any related records are governed by the records schedule for copyright management (EAG 60).

Sample Permission Letter doc (12 kb)

Sample Permission Letter - use of material in a thesis doc (23 kb)

Speaker Release

When hosting a speaker for an event where their presentation will be recorded in any manner, the speaker should complete a speaker release form. A template speaker release form is provided below. This provides certainty by clearly granting the university the copyright in the recording so that it can be preserved or used as the university sees fit. The retention and destruction of any related records are governed by the records schedule for copyright management (EAG 60).

Speaker Release Form pdf (118 kb)