On February 27, 2019, the University of Alberta’s Copyright Office hosted a day-long symposium in celebration of Fair Dealing Week / Fair Use Week, an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) supported by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL). The symposium featured four speakers from various disciplines, who talked about the impact and importance of Fair Dealing as a user right in the Canadian Copyright Act.
“Situating the Learner within the Copyright Paradigm: Fair Dealing in Historical Context”
Myra J Tawfik
Myra J Tawfik from the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor spoke on the emergence of copyright in Canada in the early 19th century as a policy vehicle for the encouragement of literacy and learning. As public/universal education became a critical issue in North America (Thomas Jefferson: “Government must try to “illuminate...the minds of people at large...without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance”), the dissemination of educational textbooks/materials was needed; however, printing costs were prohibitively high, making these materials inaccessible to the common Canadian.
“Documentaries and Chill”
Brianne Selman, Scholarly Communications and Copyright Librarian from the University of Winnipeg, walked us through the many, often unexpected, copyright-related costs and issues she faced when assisting a researcher with their documentary. Brianne explained the concept of copyright chill - when users/researchers do not feel as though they can exercise their rights (in particular: fair dealing rights) due to potential legal ramifications. “Law structures society - chill affects society.” Brianne presented copyright in the context of late stage capitalism, in which copyright can be viewed as a means to protect capitalist interests and a means to generate more commodities, which creates a culture in which users don’t feel able to exercise their rights, and subsequently limits diverse voices / perspectives, and creates a loss of critical standpoints and barriers to dissenting voices (by increasing price points).
“No shades required: the shadowy lines of fair dealing determinations”
Amanda Wakaruk, Copyright Librarian from the University of Alberta’s Copyright Office, delivered a thought-provoking and interactive presentation to get the audience thinking about weighing the different factors in a hypothetical Fair Dealing analysis. Amanda walked the audience through a format change scenario in an academic library setting in which a Fair Dealing argument might be possible. Using an online polling software accessible on their devices, the audience was able to log their answers and see how others in the room weighed the various factors, and whether or not they leaned towards Fair or Not Fair when applying the factors to the scenario.
“Ottawa’s Unfolding Copyright Reform Debate on Fair Dealing”
Chris George, President of CG&A Communications, returned to the Symposium this year to update us on the details of Ottawa’s current copyright debate as the statutory review of the Canadian Copyright Act continues. The review will come to a close in June of 2019 with the completion of the reports from the committees, including their recommendations. A possible amendment to the Fair Dealing clause could be at stake. Chris informed the audience about how the debate has played out, the key players and lobbyists, and suggested some potential, hypothetical outcomes. Chris ended the day with a call to action: share your intelligence. Share your stories. Get involved! Contact your local MPs (Chris highlighted the key people to contact in the Edmonton area) and share your personal stories and reasons as to why Fair Dealing is important to you, and all creators and users across Canada.