Copyright advice or information?

Copyright expert Lesley Ellen Harris recently posted at IP Osgoode about an important but seldom-addressed issue involving post-secondary institutions and copyright: When a librarian answers a question about using copyrighted works, is she giving legal advice? Given that more universities are opting to handle copyright compliance in-house rather than outsourcing it to a copyright collective, the answer becomes more and more significant. The answer will not be found in my post; instead, I’ll relate some of the thoughts I had after reading Harris’s post.

[Note: The thoughts below are based on the IP Osgoode post; some of them might already be addressed in Harris’s full article upcoming in the Intellectual Property Journal.]

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Awareness and Perception of Copyright Among Teaching Faculty at Canadian Universities

Earlier this month I had the privilege of presenting my research at the 2015 ABC Copyright Conference in Winnipeg, hosted by the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, and Brandon University.

In the short talk I discussed the results of a survey of Canadian university faculty members undertaken from October to December 2014. The survey sought to determine teaching faculty awareness of copyright law and institutional policy and training, and how they would respond in various scenarios.

Analysis of the results suggests that while faculty members are aware of the existence of their institution’s copyright policy, much fewer know whether their institution offers training. Of those who do know about training, only one-third have attended. However, faculty who have attended copyright training find that their knowledge is enhanced by the experience.

It also appears that respondents are more comfortable reproducing and displaying materials in class that are freely available on the Internet, like YouTube videos and images, but more likely to ask for permission or guidance when it comes to print materials or electronic versions of print materials like PDFs.

The research was supported by an Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Slides

Speaking notes

Happy Fair Use/Dealing Week

February 23-27 is Fair Use Week, a “community celebration of fair use coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries.”

Here in Canada, we’re celebrating the equivalent (but not exactly the same, of course) Fair Dealing Week.  The Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office at the University of Toronto are initiating a nation-wide discussion on fair dealing in Canada, via the Twitter handle @UofTSCCO and the hashtag #FairUseWeek2015.

Here at the University of Western Ontario, on Friday, February 27, Prof. Samuel Trosow and I will be discussing fair dealing and how it relates to contract law. Details are below:

Copyright and contracts: The fight over information

Fair dealing is a exception to copyright infringement that is granted by the Copyright Act. In 2004, the Supreme Court characterized fair dealing as not only an exception, but as a user’s right that should be interpreted broadly. In 2012, it reiterated that position. That same year, Parliament extended the scope of this user’s right by adding “education, parody and satire” to the list of fair dealing purposes in the Copyright Act. However, copyright owners and database publishers can attempt to limit the reach of fair dealing in contracts granting subscriptions to electronic information. Are these contract terms valid? Professor Samuel Trosow and Lisa Di Valentino will discuss the intersection between copyright law and contract law that has become a significant issue in a world of digital access to knowledge.

Friday, February 27, 2015
12:00pm – 1:20 pm
North Campus Building, Room 293

Educational uses of copyrighted work: exceptions and public licences

This afternoon I had a very productive meeting with a nurse/educator at a teaching hospital. She was interested in learning more about the copyright issues associated with the use of medical images taken from the Internet in PowerPoint presentations. We discussed the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act, particularly section 30.01 that allows for the communication of lessons to students enrolled in a course, where the lesson contains copyrighted content; and section 30.04, permitting the reproduction and communication/performance of copyrighted works available through the Internet. (Both of these sections were added in the 2012 round of amendments.) Continue reading

Increase in cost of course packs, but what are the reasons?

The Varsity, the University of Toronto’s student newspaper, reports that students are being made to pay increased (sometimes doubled) prices for printed course packs since the expiry of the UofT’s licence agreement with Access Copyright (AC).

Some might jump straight to the argument that because UofT no longer licences with Access Copyright, the works (or at least up to 20% of them) aren’t covered by a blanket agreement, and thus by necessity students are paying more on a per-page basis.

More likely, this is an issue with communication, specifically between the library and the instructors.

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Do Licence Agreements Trump Users’ Rights?

I’ve just posted a new working paper on SSRN: “Conflict between Contract Law and Copyright Law in Canada: Do Licence Agreements Trump Users’ Rights?” It’s available for download at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2396028. The paper was written under the supervision of Prof. Samuel Trosow, and portions of it were presented at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference on January 31, 2014.

Abstract:

I argue in this paper that it is not a settled issue in Canadian law that copyright exceptions provided in the Canadian Copyright Act can be trumped by contractual agreement, and that a strong argument can be made that they cannot. I first frame the issue by discussing the increasing use of digital rather than print materials in academic libraries, and the potential conflict between subscription agreements and the Copyright Act. I then address three approaches (jurisdictional, purposive, and statutory right) that can be taken to determine whether contractual terms are preempted by statutory provisions, and conclude that, in Canada, copyright exceptions are statutory rights that cannot be removed by contract. Finally, I briefly discuss technological protection measures and argue that their recent inclusion in the Copyright Act does not necessarily indicate legislative support for private ordering.

Canadian university fair dealing policies, part two point five

Further to my previous post, I have expanded the sample to include the smaller universities that are members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Again, the table records whether the school has signed a licence with Access Copyright, whether an updated fair dealing policy is available on the web site, whether such policy is based on AUCC’s policy, and whether the school’s web site includes the AUCC’s guidelines for applying the fair dealing policy.

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UofT, Western decline to renew blanket licence with Access Copyright

It’s just been announced that the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario have declined to renew the controversial blanket licence with collective Access Copyright, ending months of speculation over what the universities had planned. The decision follows Western’s overhaul of its copyright policy, with fair dealing guidelines closely modelled on UofT’s. Western had previously been one of the few larger universities that did not have any type of fair dealing policy or guidelines available on its web site.

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