New changes in UW copyright policy
Copyright policy and use of copyrighted material at the University of Waterloo will once again undergo a change this semester.
August 2012 marked the end of the first full year that the university was no longer covered by Access Copyright, a service which charges Canadian universities to allow them access to rights managed material which appears in print.
Under the changes made in Aug. 2011, faculty and students were not covered at all by a print agreement and students were not required to pay for the use of the service in their student fees.
Susan Routliffe, Associate University Librarian, said the decision not to renew the agreement was two-fold.
“We didn’t renew for two reasons: the costs were much higher than we thought were reasonable, and at the same time… their repertoire was going into decline,” she said. “They wanted more and we needed less.”
After a year, the feedback to the new program has been mixed. Students said they hadn’t entirely noticed the changes in the classroom, but were glad they were no longer being charged the fees.
“From what we know, students are happy with the fact that we didn’t go with a license that was going to cost a lot more money,” Routliffe said in an interview with Imprint.
Rebecca Griffiths, a first-year international development student, said the additional cost and availability of material would not affect the way she studies, making the extra cost of an agreement not worth it for her.
“Personally I don’t use the slides, I just write everything down,” she said. “But I know students who do, so it might be worth it for them.”
Some faculty, who have been unable to distribute certain kinds of handouts in class, or post lecture slides containing copyright material on LEARN, reported feeling the change in the classroom.
Tara Hargrave, a professor in the French department, said the new restrictions limit how she can present material to students.
“It’s not affecting my ability to teach, I think it’s affecting the students much more,” she said. “I can give a lesson in the same way, but I can’t provide handouts.”
Now the university is reviewing how a landmark day for the Supreme Court of Canada this past summer will affect things to come.
The high court handed down five decisions on one day this past July, expanding the definition of “fair dealing” as it pertains to copyright and ruling that things like using materials for “research” or “private study” are to be given a large and liberal interpretation.
The court determined the definition of research would now be interpreted based on the end-user instead of the institution or commercial organization that facilitated the use of the material, reports legal resource Mondaq.
Routliffe said this means things will improve for faculty and students.
“What has changed and is going to make life very good for the campus, is that (the) Supreme Court cases have expanded the interpretation of fair dealing,” she said.
The provost has established a copyright advisory committee to provide advice, to help communicate what the changes will mean to the university community, and to update copyright usage documents.
“We’ve had a copyright FAQ for several years, that is now undergoing revision to reflect that we’re not in the license and to reflect the Supreme Court cases and the expansion of fair dealing,” said Routliffe. “And at the same time, there have been a lot of amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act, which is also going to have implications for the campus as well.”
Although Routliffe hopes the new changes will be reflected in the university guidelines by the end of this term, she cautions faculty to be careful how they interpret the rulings on their own and says they should seek advice before making changes.
In a memo issued in July 2011, university representatives warned faculty that should they be taken to court, the university would not be taking on the legal ramifications of any violations of the Copyright Act. In other words, faculty are personally responsible for their own violations.
Routliffe said copyright law can be complicated and encouraged anyone with questions to reach out for advice.
“What you really have to do in many cases is assess what it is a person wants to copy, why they want to copy it, who the rights holder is, so there are a lot of things you have to look at that are based on this set of circumstances,” she said. “The context is everything and there aren’t what I would call a whole lot of black and white rules with respect to what you can can can’t do. You have to be assessing situations all the time.”