In Canada, any original work or performance, regardless of its merit, is automatically protected by copyright once it is in a fixed form. You do not need to register a work in order for it to be protected, although you can still do so. Other means of protecting your work include the use of copyright notices and, for digital works, the application of technological protection measures (TPMs or digital locks) that restrict access or the ability to download or copy from a file.
A copyright owner who receives a request from someone wanting to copy, distribute or adapt their work may grant the request for free, for a fee, subject to certain conditions, or refuse the request altogether. Co-owners or co-creators of a work will need consent from each owner or creator before granting a request. If copyright to a work is owned by a publisher or other third party, refer the request to that copyright owner.
As the creator of the “performance“ that is your lecture, you have the copyright on the content. It does not become a copyright issue until the lecture is fixed in some tangible form, is communicated or broadcasted. The copyright in a recording of your lecture would belong to you. The interpretive class notes of a student would not, assuming they were not a verbatim record. The ideas in your lecture are not protected by copyright, but the fixation of the performance of the lecture would be.
A faculty member owns the copyright in course notes, PowerPoints and other unpublished material that are created and used for their courses. Permission would be required for another instructor to use the materials or for students to post such materials on public websites.
Every scholar wishes to see his or her research published in a journal of note. Journals enhance scholarship by selecting submissions, managing the peer review process and providing improvements through editing.
However, the landscape of scholarly publishing has changed over the last number of years. Journals, which were originally produced as the work of scholarly societies and scholarly presses, have increasingly become the product of multinational publishers. This has created price inflation for journals, subscriptions for which represent an ever-growing proportion of university library budgets. The record of scholarly research (often produced with the support of universities and government funding agencies) is sold back to universities at a considerable premium. Pay walls hamper access to these works and the opportunity to read and cite them.
Copyright is often assigned to a publisher as part of a publication agreement. This presents particular issues for the creators of scholarly works, whose main interest is the dissemination of knowledge and the contribution to scholarly discussion. A conventional publishing agreement may restrict your ability to distribute a copy of your own work, including at conferences or even in your own classes without the permission of the publisher and the payment of a royalty.
Creators should read the publisher contract carefully and seek legal advice if necessary. When negotiating an agreement, it is in the creator's best interest to retain some or all of the following:
Scott Day, Copyright Specialist, for inquiries about publishing and copyright.
Parts of this section were adapted from the University of Manitoba copyright website under a Creative Commons licence.