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Copyright and Fair Dealing: Guidelines for Documentary Filmmakers

This guide is designed to help student documentary filmmakers understand the application of copyright and fair dealing to their work based on Canadian law, and guided by industry practice. N.B. Terms of copyright and fair dealing differ in the US

Copyright and Fair Dealing

The information in this guide is not meant to be legal advice. It is designed to help you make your own decisions based on an understanding of your rights and responsibilities under the Copyright Act, in the context of research and education. The University of Guelph-Humber follows the University of Guelph's Copyright Policy.


Copyright means the "right to copy." In Canadian law, the Copyright Act defines copyright as the exclusive (sole) legal right to produce, reproduce, sell or license, publish or perform an original work or a substantial part of it.

It protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances, and communication signals.


Fair Dealing is an exception to the Copyright Act (under s. 29, 29.1, and 29.2), which allows the reproduction, or use of, copyright-protected (original) works, within limits, and without obtaining permission under specific conditions, such as for the purposes of: 1) research, 2) private study, 3) education, 4) parody, 5) satire, 6) criticism or 7) review, and 8) news reporting 

Student Guides to Copyright & Fair Dealing

The University of Guelph-Humber follows the University of Guelph's Copyright Policy. See below for a short list of applicable guides from the University of Guelph:

Questions regarding the Fair Dealing Policy and Canada’s copyright law may be directed to Heather Martin, the University of Guelph’s Copyright Officer .

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