New copyright laws will be observed at Mt. A

While Mount Allison is going through obvious physical transformations, other adjustments are being made in the academic sphere. One of these changes is the alteration of Mt. A’s copyright policy, which has been edited in order to comply with a recent Supreme Court decision.

While the Copyright Act came into effect last year, this is the first update to university policy in over a decade.

“… [S]uccessive governments tried to bring in new copyright legislation but on several occasions, the legislation died on the order papers when a new writ was dropped.  The old copyright act was last changed in 1997,” explained Karen Grant, Provost and Vice-President of Academic Research, adding that “the digital landscape has changed a great many things, and the old copyright [laws] had not kept up with changing technologies.”

Grant said that the most notable of the various changes is the clarification of the principles of fair dealing and fair use, which reflects work undertaken by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).  According to Mt. A’s copyright act, there now exists a fair dealing exemption that allows student to reproduce a portion of a copyrighted work, “for one of the following eight purposes: research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire, or parody”.

The fair dealing policy also “permits faculty members, instructors, and staff members to communicate and reproduce short excerpts of copyright-protected works for specified purposes without infringing copyright.” These exceptions are applicable, so long as the material copied constitutes a “short excerpt”: such as 10 per cent of a copyrighted work, one chapter of a book, or a single article from a periodical.

These clarifications describe how various copyrighted materials can be used, by a professor teaching a course or for research, and are in the process of being applied to all campuses that are a part of the AUCC.

In order to raise awareness of the changes, messages were sent out to the members of the Mt. A community, in order to help both faculty and students understand the new copyright laws, and avoid the penalties of failing to comply.

“…I was concerned about ongoing copyright legislation, and that the fair use principle would disappear,” said Professor Deborah Wills of the English department, “but it looks like it has been preserved, which means that we can still make readings available, as long as we follow limits about what percentage of a book we can copy. It does prevent people from relying too much on supplementation, although there is still the option of using course packs. I suspect that students won’t even notice a difference.”

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