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Copyright in a student's own work

Students almost always own the copyright in their own work. (The exception to this may be a work written under contract in which the contract agreement states that copyright in the work is either jointly owned, or is owned by the contracting organization.) To this end, the learners may use the copyright symbol: © on their title sheet should they choose to do so.

Copyright protection in Canada is automatically conferred to the author of a work; no formal registration is required. However, an author or creator may choose to register a work with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for various reasons. While not a 'water-tight' proof of copyright ownership, registration does provide an additional source of legitimization of copyright ownership in the event of litigation. The fee for basic registration is $65 CDN.

Use of 'third party' works

Any work that does not originate with a creator (and for which the creator owns copyright) is considered a 'third party' work. This means that if a student reproduces any part of someone else's work, it is possible that s/he will have to clear permissions with the original creator before reproducing it.  If permission is required, we recommend that the student use the 'copyright permission form.'

It is often acceptable to include very short quotes without gaining permission, providing that the original sources are clearly and accurately cited. There is no guiding rule as to what percentage or how many words or lines may be quoted without permission, so please contact the Copyright Office for guidance on specific examples. Also, sources may be referenced or paraphrased without permission, provided they are cited.


Students often ask about adaptation: Is it possible simply to modify the original slightly so that I don't have to get permission? The original author has the right not only to reproduction but also to adaptation. In order for the student to adapt without requiring permission, s/he may keep some of the original ideas intact, but the final expression of those ideas must be his or her own, provided that the original author is cited in order to avoid plagiarism. Simply rearranging concepts, finding synonyms for words, or changing the font in a diagram is not significant enough to qualify

'Commercial use' vs. 'Educational use'

A student's work, if submitted to the Library and Archives Canada's Theses Canada program, is considered 'commercial' for the purpose of copyright permission due to the fact that copies of their work will be available for sale online via the ProQuest/UMI public website.

While many organizations give free use of their work for non-commercial , educational purposes, this does not generally apply to works for sale.