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CAUT Bulletin Archives

March 2013

CAUT issues new copyright guidelines

CAUT has released revised Guidelines for the Use of Copyrighted Material, in response to recent amendments to the Copyright Act and victories at Canada’s highest court.

“It would be beneficial for educators to familiarize themselves with the updated document,” says University of Western Ontario professor Samuel Trosow, who also serves as chair of CAUT’s copyright advisory committee. “Our advocacy before the courts and parliament has clarified and reaffirmed our rights to use and share mate­rial. Now is the time to start exercising those rights.”

Bill C-11, which became law last summer, added new rights for classroom use of material and expanded fair dealing (the right to copy without permission or payment under various circumstances) to include education.

And in July 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada handed down rulings in five separate copyright cases — decisions that also affirmed the rights of researchers and educators to use copyrighted works.

Why is it important that individuals read the guidelines?

According to Trosow, judges decide claims of copyright infringement in part on the strict terms of the Copyright Act. But they are also keenly interested in the social context of copying, especially in areas where the legislation is open to different interpretations. In these circumstances judges look to custom and practice to provide insight into what is fair.

“Given the favorable legal environment for users’ rights in the educational context, we do not need to ask for permission to make copies or obtain costly licenses in circumstances where fair dealing or other rights would apply,” says Trosow.

“The guidelines provide practical advice on how and when our users’ rights can be applied, and it is important for academic staff to understand these rights.”