Fair Dealing

The fair dealing provisions of Canada’s Copyright Act (section 29) set out the limits to copyright. These are 1) research or private study, 2) and criticism and review, 2) news reporting. In addition the Act allows for specific exception to educational institutions, libraries, museums, and archives. For the purposes of criticism and review, the source, author, performer, maker or broadcaster must be cited.

The Supreme Court of Canada case CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada (read the ruling here) sets out the courts approach to fair dealing, and lists further factors to consider in considering cases of fair dealing:

  • the purpose of dealing
  • the amount of the dealing
  • alternatives to the dealing
  • the nature of the work
  • effect of the dealing on the work

Acts undertaken without motive or gain have limited fair dealing protection. However, this does not mean that non-profit organizations can use copyright work without permission of the copyright holder.


Vancouver filmmaker Hart Snider made this video from election coverage of the 2000 Canadian election.

This video is an example of fair dealing for the purpose of criticism and review.