New copyright ruling may be good news for educators

On July 12, 2012 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on a number of copyright cases.  The ruling has positive implications for educators.  Education will now be included in fair dealing categories.  Fair dealing allows for limited and non-commercial copying for stated purposes.  While research or private study had been included under fair dealing, education had not been and thus it was previously forbidden for teachers to make copies of works for distribution to students.  This new ruling will allow educators to make copies for distribution to students.

Note that the previous limits regarding the amount that can be copied will still apply.  These limits are open to interpretation, with the Copyright Act stating they should be an “insubstantial or very small portion of the work”.  Often the following guidelines are used:

Up to 10% of a published work or the following, whichever is greater:

  • an entire newspaper article or page
  • an entire single short story, play, poem, essay or article from a book or periodical issue
  • an entire article from an encyclopedia, dictionary, bibliography, or similar reference book
  • an entire reproduction of an artistic work (including drawing, sculpture, painting, etc) from a book or periodical issue containing other works
  • an entire chapter which is 20% or less of a book

Please note that I am not a legal expert on copyright, and if in doubt I would advise you to seek legal counsel.

Sandy Iverson, MEd, MLIS
Manager, Library and Information Services
St. Michael’s Hospital

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