ABC Copyright Conference Report

I attended the ABC Copyright Conference on behalf of the APUO in June 2012. Here is my report.

  •  The big takeaway message of this conference is that professors and librarians have more rights than they are probably aware of, especially with respect to digital content for courses.
  • In the session featuring David Robinson of CAUT, Sam Trosow and Howard Knapf  encouraged professors to take advantage of their collective agreements, especially with respect to academic freedom.
  • For example our CA gives members the right “to select, acquire, disseminate and use documents in the exercise of her professional responsibilities without interference from the employer, its agents or any outside bodies.” For Trosow, a Law and Information Studies professor at Western, this encompasses digital collections in courseware.

Since the conference, two major events have taken place:

1) The passing of the Copyright Act which received Royal Assent in June 2012, and

2) Five Supreme Court of Canada copyright decisions in July 2012.

The implications of these two major events are positive for  postsecondary education in Canada including:

  • More flexibility in using and working with copyrighted materials with reduced legal liability
  • Distinction btw commercial and non-commercial infringement, with greatly reduced potential infringement for faculty engaged in non-commercial activity
  • Exceptions for publicly available materials on the internet. Any website online can  now be communicated and reproduced by educational institutions without the need for permission or compensation
  • Limited digital inter-library loans
  • Reduced licensing costs for public performance rights
  • The use of reasonable excerpts of copyrighted works in the creation of original course materials is likely to be covered by the new expanded interpretations of “fair dealing.” This is actually more forgiving than the Access Copyright license, which is restricted to 20% of a work in most cases with the new license. Reasonable takes into account the proportion of copying in relation to the rest of the work.
  • Under “fair dealing,” private research and study is broadly interpreted. Within that broad interpretation, if teachers copy works for students to study, this is likely permissible because of the student’s purpose.
  • Technological neutrality: implication is that digitization of works is permissible since the SCC judges ruled that method of delivery is unimportant with respect to copyright holder rights.

In a nutshell: professors have expanded rights with the new Copyright Act.

Jennifer Dekker, July 2012

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