Copyright matters

Whether writing a student essay or creating a webpage, the same rules apply when it comes to respecting the intellectual property and creations of others.

The basic rule
The basic rule is that you can only use other people’s copyright (maps, text, images etc.) if what you are doing is a fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, criticism or review. This means that you can only use other people’s material for the purpose of this project if the way you use it is fair.

General guidelines
In order to ensure that you don’t infringe copyright, you must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Limit copying where possible
You should only copy as much of a work as is necessary for your purpose. For example, don’t copy an entire map if all you need is a section, and don’t copy an entire page if all you need is a paragraph. Ideally, you should only be copying insubstantial portions of a work.
  • Consider alternatives
Where you can achieve your purpose without copying the work, you should do so. For example, consider linking to a webpage instead of copying the information, or write your own commentary instead of copying someone else’s.
  • Give credit
If you use words, images or maps from a publication (either paper or digital), you must provide an acknowledgement of the original source, in the form of a proper citation which, at the least, much include the name of the author, the source and the copyright owner. If you scan images, photographs, diagrams or maps, you must provide the same acknowledgement of the original source.
  • Stick to your purpose
If you copy a work for the purpose of this project, don’t use it for any other ulterior purposes. In no circumstances should you use other people’s copyright for non-research or commercial purposes.

If you have any questions about what you want to do, contact the Map Collection mapref@mcmaster.ca

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