Social media and copyright

Social media and copyright

When creating and posting content to the web and social media properties, please abide by Canadian Copyright Act.

Copyright protects literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works, as well as sound recordings, performances and communication signals. This includes photographs, video, books, websites, etc.

If the content is not yours, you may only include it if your use is covered by an exception in the Copyright Act or you have the permission of the content creator.

What kind of exceptions in the Copyright Act could you rely on?

  • If the copyright has expired (generally 50 years after the author dies), the work is in the public domain and can be used freely.
  • If you are using only an insubstantial portion of a work, such a short quote, copyright is not triggered.
  • If you are using the work for the purpose of research, private study, criticism or review, news reporting, education, parody or satire, and your use is 'fair', then you may be covered by the fair dealing exception.

Further, you are able to use content that is licensed under Creative Commons, or content from websites where the terms of use permit what you want to do (e.g. non-commercial use). This content usually requires some form of attribution.

What about all the 'free' stuff on the internet?
There are several sources of copy-left content on the web. This is content which is made available for free with few or no copyright restrictions. One place to start your search is Creative Commons. You may also wish to review this presentation by Brock's copyright co-ordinator explaining different sources of copy-left content.

For more information on copyright, visit Brock Copyright FAQ or email

On December 13, the Brock University Marketing and Communications Office is hosting an information seminar on "Copy(right) and paste: how to find and use content from the internet without breaking the law". Please sign up online.

Red Canadian maple leaf with white copyright symbol in the middle

Photo source: ElectronicFrontierFoundation (

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