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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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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Review of Canadian University Fair Dealing Policies

Update: I have made some revisions to the paper, adding Grant MacEwan University to the sample, correcting Queen’s University’s Access Copyright relationship, and removing typographical errors. Much thanks to Scott Day and Mark Swartz for bringing these oversights to my attention. (May 17, 2013)

I have recently made available the results of a project I have been working on since January. I analyzed the fair dealing policies of the top 40 Canadian universities by student enrollment (excluding Quebec) for content and to determine whether there is consistency among the universities, and any relationship between the content in the schools’ copyright web sites and whether they have signed an Access Copyright licence.

The paper is available at the following link: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2263034

This research is particularly timely because of the recent lawsuit brought by Access Copyright against York University, the basis of which is York’s allegedly ineffective fair dealing policy.

Abstract:

The past three years have seen a number of changes in the area of copyright law, particularly in the area of education. As a result, Canadian universities have had to make policy decisions to account for these changes and the resulting expansion of fair dealing rights. The content and consistency of the resulting policies may have a significant effect on the future interpretation of fair dealing rights. In this paper I analyze the current state of fair dealing policies and supporting information found on university web sites. I conclude that an ideal fair dealing policy is open ended and flexible, and incorporates mention of the significant elements of copyright legislation, court decisions, and other areas of law, in a way that is accessible to its intended audience of faculty and instructors.