Copyright Legislation & Rulings

In Canada, we follow Canadian legislation, even though we may be using materials produced outside of Canada. Likewise, copyright owners enforce their rights in the countries where any alleged violation of copyright takes place.

Canadian copyright laws strive to balance the creator’s right to control and be compensated for the use of their works, with the user’s right to access and make use of works protected by copyright. In the Canadian Copyright Act, this balance is created by articulating "legal rights" for creators and "exceptions" to benefit certain users and under certain circumstances.

There have been amendments to the Copyright Act over the years. On November 7, 2012, sweeping and significant changes were enacted by Parliament when the majority of the Copyright Modernization Act, was brought into force. Noteworthy for us at Western, was its inclusion of education as a named purpose under the Fair Dealing Exception.


The Supreme Court of Canada’s decisions in several cases have had significant impact how the law is interpreted.

With respect to Fair Dealing especially, the ruling in CCH Canadian v. Law Society of Upper Canada (2004), established the Fair Dealing Exception as a “user’s right” and set a multi-factor analysis for assessing whether a particular copying activity or other dealing falls within its scope.

Subsequent cases including Alberta (Minister of Education) v. Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright) (2012), and Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada v. Bell Canada (2012), further refined this analysis.  

Creative Commons LicenceUnless otherwise indicated, content on Western's copyright website is licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

Created 12/01/2013
In part, adapted with permission from University of British Columbia’s Copyright Legislation Page