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Research Guides

Getting Published: An Introduction to Issues in Scholarly Publishing

Supports the Getting Published Workshop Series offered by UTL on the St. George campus.

Copyright & Scholarly Publishing

What do you own?

At the University of Toronto, faculty and students own the copyright in their work (with some exceptions) until they transfer this copyright to a publisher.

What does owning copyright mean?

It means that you have the exclusive right to make certain uses of the works that you own the copyright to for a limited period of time.

Helpful Links:

What are your exclusive rights?

  • Perform
  • Produce, reproduce, perform or publish any translation of a work
  • Reproduce, adapt, and publically present the work
  • Communicate the work to public via telecommunication
  • Authorize others to do these things

How long does copyright last?

In Canada, copyright lasts for 50 years after the end of the year of death of the author or creator of a work. In other countries, it is longer (typically 70). Copyright law is territorial, but international copyright agreements mean that copyright regulations are mutually enforceable across international boundaries in countries which have signed these agreements.

What do publishers want?

Publishers typically ask that you transfer copyright or license the use of your work to them; in return, they will publish your work. This exchange is typically referred to as the “publication agreement.”

Can I keep my copyright? What are my options?

  • Transfer copyright but reserve certain rights for yourself
  • Retain copyright but grant certain licenses to publisher
  • Negotiate if necessary

Fair Use & Fair Dealing

In Canada, “Fair Dealing” has two tests:

  • The “dealing” must be for an allowable purpose:
    • Research
    • Private study
    • Education
    • Parody
    • Satire
    • Criticism
    • Review
    • News reporting

  • The “dealing” must be “fair” - consider these six (and perhaps other) factors:
  1. The purpose of the dealing
  2. The character of the dealing
  3. The amount of the dealing
  4. The nature of the work
  5. Available alternatives to the dealing
  6. The effect of the dealing on the work

Helplful Resources:

Thesis Publishing

University of Toronto Libraries Libguide: Copyright and your Thesis

Are you using third party content?

No, everything I’ve used is insubstantial or my own work

Yes, and I don’t plan to publish the content before/after graduation  

Yes, and I plan on publishing some/all of the content

Permission is likely unnecessary

Refer to the U of T Fair Dealing Guidelines to determine this

Your use of third-party content may be consistent with the U of T Fair Dealing Guidelines, in which case permission is not needed


Does it exceed the guidelines? Permission is needed. Consult the SGS Copyright Permission Request Sample Text for help

This may change  the purpose from ‘educational’ to ‘commercial’ -

The U of T Fair Dealing Guidelines will still apply to the work submitted for graduation.

BUT you will have to seek permission from the copyright holder for all material that will be published in a journal or book