Changes to the Copyright Act come into effect today

As of today, November 7, 2012, the changes to the Copyright Act that were part of Bill C-11 come into effect.  The Copyright Act is the piece of federal legislation regarding copyright and allowable uses of material protected by copyright.  There has been an effort to reform and modernize the Copyright Act, including many failed attempts to pass new legislation, so today’s changes have been a long time coming.

The new Copyright Act includes some specific and positive changes for educational institutions.  The Act is now technologically neutral, so all exceptions may be applied to all media.  This includes the existing exception for educational institutions that allowed for the reproduction of copyright materials in order to display them in class. 

A new exception has been added regarding the use of materials available on the Internet, allowing faculty members, teaching staff, and instructors to reproduce or show/perform (in the case of audio/visual material) works found on the Internet, so long as the source of the material is cited and no digital locks were circumvented to use the work. 

Along with the ability to perform copyright materials live for students and to play sound recordings for students for the purposes of education, members of faculty and teaching staff will now be able to show cinematographic works in class for educational purposes without the need for a public performance license.

Specific provisions have been included in the new legislation regarding distance education and communicating lessons to students.  Educational institutions are required to destroy copies of the lessons within 30 days following the end of the term and must take measures to ensure that only students enrolled in the course have access to the lessons, but this new provision will allow students who use distance education to have the same classroom experience as those who are present in an actual U of S classroom.

Perhaps the biggest change in this legislation is the addition of three new purposes for which a use of material could be considered fair dealing.  The new Act adds education, parody, and satire to the allowable purposes of fair dealing.  Coupled with recent decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada that help clarify the definition and reach of fair dealing, this will have a great impact on how we can use materials at the U of S.   In response to the changes in legislation and the Supreme Court decisions, the U of S has updated its Fair Dealing Guidelines. The updated Fair Dealing Guidelines can be found on the U of S’s copyright website (www.usask.ca/copyright).

There are many other changes in this new Copyright Act that are not directed specifically at educational institutions, but will have an impact on how we can use material.  On the positive side, there is the added ability for libraries to provide copies in digital form, so long as they take measures to prevent further copying or redistribution of the material.  There is the addition of a section regarding non-commercial user-generated content, which allows for the combination of existing work that is protected by copyright in the creation of a new work without infringing copyright, so long as the use is non-commercial.  There are some changes in the Act that may have a negative impact on the educational uses as well, specifically the addition of specific protection for digital locks, making the breaking of a digital lock an infringement of copyright, even if the use that is facilitated by breaking the lock is allowed under the Act.

The U of S’s copyright website (www.usask.ca/copyright) and Copyright Guidelines have been updated to reflect these important legislative changes.  Visit the website more information on how these changes affect the U of S.

The Copyright Office is available to answer specific questions about the new legislation, the Supreme Court decisions, or copyright in general.  Please email copyright.help@usask.ca.