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If I copy a copyright protected work (e.g. photograph, video), can I acknowledge the source of the work instead of seeking the owner's permission?



Any reproduction of copyright materials without the prior permission of the copyright owner is an infringement. Merely acknowledging the source will not be sufficient to avoid copyright infringement.

You can use copyright content without having to first seek consent if your use is fair. This is called the “fair use” exception.

There are 4 statutory factors that the court will consider:

  1. The purpose and character of your use;

  2. The nature of the work you are using;

  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion of the work you are using, in relation to the whole work; and

  4. The effect that your use will have on the potential market for, or value of, the work. This is ultimately a factual assessment to be made and the court may also take into account other relevant factors.

The Copyright Act does list certain types of uses as deemed fair use. One such use is for purposes of research or study. However, the amount copied must be a "reasonable portion" of the original work which is generally 10% of the number of pages, words or bytes on the one hand, or one chapter on the other hand, whichever is more. Please refer to section 43 of the Copyright Act for the full details of what constitutes a reasonable portion.

Other types of fair use include situations of news reporting, and criticisms or review. You will need to make a sufficient acknowledgement of the work or performance used.

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