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How the university's Copyright Office helps advance research and scholarship

Fair Dealing Week raises awareness about use of copyrighted material for education
February 22, 2016
From left, Copyright Office staff members Aleem Dhalla, Morgan Ostrander and Rowena (Wake) Johnson. Along with Jelly Vinta (not pictured), they advise the campus community on copyright policies and procedures. Photo by Dave Brown

From left, Copyright Office staff members Aleem Dhalla, Morgan Ostrander and Rowena (Wake) Johnson. Along with Jelly Vinta (not pictured), they advise the campus community on copyright policies and procedures. Photo by Dave Brown

From Feb. 22 to 26, scholars, students and staff at universities across Canada mark Fair Dealing Week. The week draws attention to allowances under the Canadian Copyright Act for the use of copyrighted content for research, private study, education, criticism, review, parody, satire or news reporting without fees or special permissions.

The role of the university's Copyright Office is to ensure the law is being applied appropriately across campus in order to maintain the balance between the rights of creators and individuals who use copyrighted materials.

Through collaborations with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the My GradSkills program and the Research Services Office, the Copyright Office provides information on copyright, publisher policy and author rights for researchers and graduate students.

“Fair dealing is a very important user right but it’s also one that causes quite a bit of confusion because there are factors which need to be considered in each case” explains Rowena (Wake) Johnson, copyright officer for the University of Calgary.

“It’s our job to advise members of the campus community to ensure everyone uses materials in accordance with the Copyright Act.”

Ensuring use of third-party materials follow copyright rules

In a 2002 case, the Supreme Court of Canada referred to the Copyright Act as “a balance between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works of the arts and intellect and obtaining a just reward for the creator.”    

But the law is complex, and it keeps staff busy in the Copyright Office, which is operated by Libraries and Cultural Resources under the leadership of Provost Dru Marshall. In the age of social media and online learning tools such as Desire2Learn (D2L), individuals may not realize that even posting the publications of others online could have legal implications.

“Faculty members, teaching assistants and students need to ensure that any third-party materials they incorporate in lectures, handouts and postings on D2L are copyright compliant," says Johnson. "The fair dealing provision and other educational exceptions in Canadian copyright law must be considered in making these determinations.” 

Pay-per-use permissions and electronic resources also available

In addition to materials used under the educational exceptions in the Copyright Act, the campus community has access to a range of electronic resources through subscriptions purchased by Libraries and Cultural Resources. The Copyright Office also negotiates permissions on a pay-per-use basis.

The Copyright Office maintains a permitted uses chart and offers presentations for faculties and departments on copyright policies and procedures.