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Fair Dealing Policy

The Fair Dealing provision in the Copyright Act allows us to reproduce short excerpts of a copyright protected work without seeking permission or paying royalties as long as the use is fair and for one of the stated purposes in the Copyright Act – for universities the most relevant purposes are education, private study and research.  All materials reproduced must comply with the University’s Fair Dealing Policy.

McMaster University’s Fair Dealing Policy outlines what is considered  what is a short excerpt.

Short excerpt means:

  • Up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)
  • One chapter from a book
  • A single article from a periodical
  • An entire artistic work (including a painting, print, photograph, diagram, drawing, map, chart, and plan) from a copyright-protected work containing other artistic works
  • An entire newspaper article or page
  • An entire single poem or musical score from a copyright-protected work containing other poems or musical scores (g) an entire entry from an encyclopedia, annotated bibliography, dictionary or similar reference work

From the McMaster University Fair Dealing Policy


One of the most frequently asked questions is about using 10% or a chapter of a book.  If you are using materials from a book you can use either 10% of the materials in excerpts, or one chapter. A few things to keep in mind:

  • The use must always be reasonable and fair – for example if one chapter equals 40% of the entire book, that is not considered fair and we cannot reproduce it under Fair Dealing. We would have to seek permission from the rights holder to include it in your coursepack.
  • In terms of Fair Dealing, consider introductions, prefaces, notes etc as their own “chapter”.
  • You cannot use more than one chapter even if the total page count of all chapters is less than 10% of a book.
  • We can help you determine what you can include under Fair Dealing and what will require permission.

Materials that meet Fair Dealing Guidelines can be included in custom courseware. If you wish to use material that does not comply with the limitations outlined in the Fair Dealing Policy we will request permission directly from the copyright holder. Permissions must be secured each time courseware is produced. We work in partnership with Library staff to clear copyright for each coursepack in each term it is used.

Please direct your questions to the Courseware Department

We encourage you to visit the McMaster Copyright site for information on McMaster University’s policies relating to copyright:


Suggested Course Material Submission Dates:

Fall June 1
Winter October 1
Spring/Summer March 1