In today’s digital landscape, copyright compliance is a growing concern. From photographs to news articles, understanding and adhering to copyright laws is crucial to avoid legal issues and uphold ethical standards. Here are some key tips tailored specifically for Ukrainian Catholic Parishes in Alberta to ensure they’re following proper copyright protocol:


Assume All Content is Copyrighted

Always operate under the assumption that any piece of content you encounter is copyrighted unless stated otherwise. Copyright protection typically lasts for the life of the original creator, plus 50 years after their death, with some exceptions. As an example, a modern icon created by an online store that sells icons may submit a copyright claim to your parish website, but an original icon designed hundreds of years ago carries no copyright, as it was written before the concept of copyright even existed. 


Avoid Corporate and Media Company Content

Refrain from using images produced by corporate or media companies, even if you receive permission. This includes popular characters like Peppa Pig, Barney, or Elmo, as well as well-known brands. These entities often vigorously protect their intellectual property rights and may take legal action against unauthorized use. They also may give permission of usage today, but required payment for usage down the line. Exercise caution when using images found on news websites such as National Post or CBC, even if they pertain to your parish. Media companies in Canada employ third parties to monitor and enforce copyright infringement, which could result in costly legal repercussions for your church.


Never Copy and Paste Articles

Avoid the common practice of copying articles and pasting them onto a parish website, even with a link back to the original source. This practice is illegal and sometimes deprives content creators of revenue from advertising, disrupts their website’s visibility on search engines like Google, and may lead to copyright strikes. 

Always obtain written permission from the original content holder before reposting or sharing their material. Be aware that many news organizations and websites may refuse permission or impose strict requirements for use. Ukrainian Catholic websites naturally are significantly more understanding and willing to share their content compared to other organizations, but sometimes will not grant permission for use. 


Understand Canadian Fair Dealing Laws

Understand the principles of fair dealing when using copyrighted material. These doctrines allow for limited use of copyrighted material for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, but the specifics vary depending on the context.


Avoid Plagiarism

Understand that copying and pasting entire news articles onto your parish website without permission is not only a violation of copyright law but also unethical. Instead, summarize the content or provide a brief excerpt along with a link to the original source. This not only respects copyright but also directs traffic back to the original publisher.


Use Licensed Content

Consider using licensed content from reputable sources or subscribing to services that provide access to royalty-free images, news articles, and other relevant materials. Many stock photo websites offer licenses specifically for churches and non-profit organizations. Here are a few to consider:

1. Unsplash ( Unsplash offers a vast collection of high-resolution photos contributed by photographers worldwide. All photos on Unsplash are free to use for any purpose, including commercial projects, without attribution.

2. Pexels ( Pexels provides a wide selection of high-quality stock photos and videos that are free to use for both personal and commercial purposes. No attribution is required for most content.

3. Pixabay ( Pixabay offers a large repository of royalty-free photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and videos. All content is released under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, meaning it can be used freely for any purpose without attribution.

4. StockSnap ( StockSnap provides a curated collection of high-resolution stock photos, all of which are free to use for personal and commercial projects without attribution.

5. Canva ( Canva offers a selection of free stock photos and illustrations alongside its design tools. While some content may require a Canva subscription for full access, many photos are available for free use.

Understand the Basics of Canadian Copyright

Canadian copyright law is designed to protect the rights of creators and encourage the creation and dissemination of artistic, literary, musical, and dramatic works. Governed primarily by the Copyright Act of Canada, the law grants creators exclusive rights to control the use and distribution of their original works for a specified period.

1. Ownership and Duration: Copyright protection automatically applies to original works as soon as they are created and fixed in a tangible form, such as writing, painting, or recording. The creator, or copyright owner, typically holds the rights to the work. In Canada, copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years after their death. However, for certain types of works, such as sound recordings and performances, the duration of copyright protection may vary.

2. Exclusive Rights: Copyright grants creators exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their works, as well as to create derivative works based on the original. These rights allow creators to control how their works are used and to financially benefit from their creations.

3. Exceptions and Limitations: Canadian copyright law includes various exceptions and limitations to balance the rights of creators with the public interest. For example, fair dealing provisions allow for the limited use of copyrighted material for purposes such as research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, and parody. Additionally, specific exceptions apply to certain uses of copyright-protected works, such as in libraries, archives, and educational institutions.

4. Moral Rights: In addition to economic rights, Canadian copyright law recognizes moral rights, which protect the integrity and attribution of a creator’s work. Moral rights include the right to be identified as the author of the work (attribution) and the right to object to any distortion, mutilation, or modification of the work that could harm the creator’s reputation (integrity).

5. Digital Rights Management (DRM): Canadian copyright law prohibits the circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs), such as encryption or access controls, that rights holders use to protect their works in digital format. However, certain exceptions exist for lawful purposes, such as interoperability, security testing, and privacy protection.

6. Enforcement and Remedies: Copyright owners have the right to enforce their rights and seek remedies for copyright infringement. Remedies may include injunctions to stop infringing activities, damages or monetary compensation for losses suffered, and orders for the destruction or delivery-up of infringing copies.

7. International Treaties and Agreements: Canada is a signatory to various international copyright treaties and agreements, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty. These treaties help harmonize copyright laws globally and facilitate the protection of creators’ rights across borders.

Overall, Canadian copyright law aims to strike a balance between protecting the interests of creators and promoting the public’s access to and enjoyment of creative works. It provides a framework for managing and regulating the use and distribution of copyrighted material in a digital age while fostering innovation, creativity, and cultural expression.




By following these copyright tips, Ukrainian Catholic parishes can ensure that they respect the rights of copyright holders while effectively sharing information and fostering community engagement online. Remember, ethical content sharing not only protects your church legally but also upholds integrity and respect for intellectual property rights.