Fair dealing flow chart

It can often be tricky to determine whether something you want to do falls within fair dealing. This quick guide sets out the steps you should take and the factors you should consider. Ultimately, it will depend on your particular circumstances and you have to make a judgment call as to whether your use can be classified as “fair”. If you have any doubt, you should ask for permission. If the work is a library-licenced electronic resource, the permissibility of your use is determined by the terms of the licence.

Step 1: Check whether your purpose is a permitted purpose

Are you using the work for the purpose of:

  1. Research
  2. Private study
  3. Criticism
  4. Review
  5. News reporting
  6. Education
  7. Satire
  8. Parody

Yes - Continue to step 2

No - Check whether use is covered under:

  1. Any other Copyright Act exception
  2. Library licences for electronic journals and databases (Note: some licences may prohibit some uses even if the purpose is one of the above.)
  3. Cinematograph film licences
  4. Any other agreement

Step 2: Check whether your use is “fair”

Is the nature of the dealing fair?

Nature of the Dealing
Less fair
More fair
Character of the dealing
Multiple copies;
Widely distributed/repetitive
Single copy;
Limited distribution/one-off
Importance/amount of work copied
Entire Work/Significant excerpt
Limited/trivial amount
Effect of dealing on the original work
Competing with
original work
No detriment
to original
Nature of the work
Unpublished/in public Interest
Available alternatives
Non-copyright works
Not necessary for
No alternative
Necessary to achieve

Creative Commons License
Fair dealing flow chart by the University of Waterloo Copyright Advisory Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.