Changes in copyright laws at MRU
The copyright question has become far murkier over the past year, as Canada’s fair use copyright laws have been altered both by Parliament and the Supreme Court, which includes materials that are copyrighted and that aren’t licensed.
The Copyright Modernization Act adds education, as well as parody and satire, as categories of what can be considered fair use under the Copyright Act of Canada. While the act has not yet been put in to use, Matt Lonsdale, Mount Royal University’s copyright advisor, is evaluating the changes it will have on MRU’s future copyright policies.
Lonsdale is examining the impact of the “Copyright Pentalogy” – a series of five rulings released by the Supreme Court in July.
“It was a pretty big deal because the Supreme Court doesn’t often hear cases on copyright,” he said. One case in particular might change how MRU’s copyright policy evolves.
The Court ruled in Alberta Education v. Access Copyright that educational materials can fall under the fair use act, meaning that certain copyrighted materials that professors were scrambling to remove from course packs and handouts might not need to be removed after all.
“We’re still not certain if the ruling applies to the post-secondary context,” Lonsdale said. “But it does give us hope we can relax our policies and say yes to things we previously had to say no to in the past.”
While adding education to Canada’s copyright act might be more important to professors, a “mash-up exception” in the bill could benefit students.
“There will be less copyright barriers for those who want to take different works and put them together and create new works for new purposes,” Lonsdale said. “Its something that may affect students who do a lot of music or video editing, arts students creating derivative works, and really anyone who wants to toss together a lot of works for a project.”
Lonsdale added that MRU is currently in the process of coordinating its copyright policy with that of other universities.
“We’re really encouraged by these new provisions coming in,” said the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University.