Guest Author – Richard Gaudio, Learning Specialist – In a recent lecture, Dr. Michael Geist described how the new Canadian Copyright Act represents a “seismic” shift for education. Bill C-11 includes a number of measures that will allow educators and students to take advantage of digital technologies. Most significantly, it expands Fair Dealing to recognize education in a structured context as a legitimate purpose.
The Government of Canada defines Fair Dealing as:
…a long-standing feature of Canadian copyright law that permits certain uses of copyright material in ways that do not unduly threaten the interests of copyright owners, but which could have significant social benefits — but only if they are fair. Fair dealing is not a blank cheque. Currently, fair dealing in Canada is limited to five purposes: research, private study, news reporting, criticism and review. To recognize the important societal benefits of education, parody and satire, the proposed Bill would add these three elements as new purposes to which fair dealing applies.
So the big question teachers and students will ask is, “Can I Use it?” The answer is, if the purpose is non-commercial or educational, we can pretty much use legally acquired works in our classrooms. This includes everything from purchased songs, movies or even mashed-up media from YouTube, to works made publicly available by the copyright holder on the internet (obviously, this excludes sites that distribute pirated content). The one limit is that you cannot use a work acquired by breaking a digital lock, like using Handbrake to copy a movie from DVD (although you can play the DVD itself).
For teachers, it is important to note that there is no distinction between your physical classroom and your digital classroom: copyright law is technology neutral. There is no difference between providing a student a PDF copy or a physical copy of an article excerpt. Basically, you are entitled in education to the fair use of copyrighted works acquired legally.
Here are some Best Practices:
- Share with your students in a password protected “digital classroom” environment, like Moodle.
- Always attribute works that you use.
- Use legal sources for the work, ie. a purchased copy of the work.
- For material made available on the internet by the copyright holder, it’s a good habit to link or embed, rather than copy.
For more on the changes to the Canadian Copyright Act:
Review the Government of Canada page on Balanced Copyright.
Visit Dr. Michael Geist’s website.
View my video summary of the Copyright Act changes for Education.