As students and faculty prepare to head back to campus this week, many will be greeted by new copyright guidelines that clarify how materials may be used without the need for further permission or licensing fees. Just over a year after the Supreme Court of Canada released five landmark copyright decisions in a single day and the Canadian government passed copyright reform legislation over a decade in the making, the education community has begun to fully integrate the new copyright landscape into campus policies.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the new rules are significant since they grant teachers and students far more flexibility to use portions of materials without the need for copyright collective licences. The changes come as a result of the expansion of fair dealing, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. fair use rules. The government expanded the scope of fair dealing to explicitly include education as a recognized purpose in 2012, while the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized the importance of a broad, liberal interpretation to fair dealing in order to ensure an appropriate balance in copyright law.
With those developments in hand, Canadian educational institutions crafted a general fair dealing policy last year confirming that educators can rely on fair dealing to use up to ten percent of a copyright-protected work (or a single article, a chapter from a book, a newspaper article, or a poem or photograph taken from a larger collection) without the need for a licence provided they meet a six-factor test.