fair dealings

Canadian Copyright Matters

One topic that has really pushed my thinking this week was our examination of copyright and fair use on Thursday. This is a topic that I feel many educators have had questions about or experiences with, but are afraid to speak openly about for fear that they are in fact breaking the law. Although issues of copyright are only one aspect of digital citizenship, as educators I feel that it is very important that we are setting a positive example for our students and having age-appropriate discussions with them about these concepts from the time students begin using the internet.

After reading the assigned readings for the day from The Center for Social Media, The Media Education Lab and The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (2011), I was interested in finding out more about Copyright and Fair Dealings in Canada. When I think back to my teacher education program, I don’t recall spending a significant amount of time discussing these topics, if at all. Clearly, it is something that as professionals we need to be aware of and make sure that we are acting within the laws and guidelines and teaching our students to be responsible for.

When researching Canadian copyright I was surprised to see that the Copyright Act of Canada had been updated as recently as 2012 through Bill C-11 the Copyright Modernization Act (Government of Canada, 2013). These changes where made specifically to assist in adding clarity to the previous Copyright Act caused by the introduction of new digital technologies (Government of Canada, 2011). As a teacher, I was personally not aware of these changes although they have happened recently and are of a topic that I feel all teachers should have a general knowledge of. I also wondered who is responsible for making sure that teachers are aware of policy updates like these? Should these be posted and visible somewhere? Should they be reviewed annually?

In looking for reputable resources to help understand how the Copyright Act of Canada applies to teachers and students I located some excellent resources to gain a deeper understanding. The first set of resources is published by The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada  and was published with the specific intent of assisting Canadian Educators in understanding the Copyright Act of Canada and the Canadian Fair Dealings Guidelines.

Copyright Matters: http://cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/291/Copyright_Matters.pdf

Copyright Matters (The Council of Ministers of Education, 2012a) answers 23 common questions that teachers and students have about copyright and fair dealings. It is done in a straightforward format and identified that copyright is a very complex subject. The document outlines specific examples including performing music, rights for students with perceptual disabilities, livestreaming of lessons, and using news commentary from television. It also provides a list of additional resources related to gaining more information.

Fair Dealings Guidelines: http://www.cmec.ca/docs/copyright/Fair_Dealing_Guidelines_EN.pdf

The Fair Dealings Guidelines (The Council of Ministers of Education, 2012b) is a 1-page, 7 guideline summary of when you are able to utilize a copyright-protected work, without gaining permission. These dealings are very similar to the American Fair Use Policies described by The Center for Social Media, The Media Education Lab, and The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (2011). The two questions or tests that they suggest considering to determine if it is ‘fair deals’ are (1) Is the use for an educational purpose? (2) Is it fair according to the 7 guidelines? One interesting point is that within the 7 guidelines, a short excerpt is identified as “up to 10 per cent of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work);” (CMEC, 2012b)

Now that I have some resources and a deeper understanding of the Copyright Act of Canada, I can be more aware of my professional choices related to copyright and fair dealings and set a positive example for my students.


Government of Canada. (2011). What the copyright modernization act means for teachers and students. Retrieved from http://balancedcopyright.gc.ca/eic/site/crp-prda.nsf/eng/rp01185.html

Government of Canada. (2013). The Copyright modernization act: Balanced copyright. Retrieved from http://balancedcopyright.gc.ca/eic/site/crp-prda.nsf/eng/home

The Center for Social Media, The Media Education Lab, and The Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property. (2011). The Code of best practices in fair use for media literacy education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/fair-use/related-materials/codes/code-best-practices-fair-use-media-literacy-education

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. (2012a). Copyright matters!. Retrieved from http://cmec.ca/Publications/Lists/Publications/Attachments/291/Copyright_Matters.pdf

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. (2012b). Fair dealings guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.cmec.ca/docs/copyright/Fair_Dealing_Guidelines_EN.pdf