Laying the Foundation for Copyright Policy and Practice in Canadian Universities

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Due to significant changes in the Canadian copyright system, universities are seeking new ways to address the use of copyrighted works within their institutions. While the law provides quite a bit of leeway for use of copyrighted materials for educational and research purposes, the response by Canadian universities and related associations has not been to fully embrace their legal rights – rather, they have taken an approach that places emphasis on risk avoidance rather than maximizing use of materials, unlike their American counterparts. In the U.S., where educational fair use is arguably less flexible in application than fair dealing, there is a higher level of copyright advocacy among professional associations, and several sets of best practices have been created to guide the application of copyright to educational use of materials.

Canada is lagging behind the U.S. in this respect, placing Canadian universities at a relative disadvantage. The goal of this study is to lay the foundation for the development of policies and guidelines in the use of copyrighted works, and the provision of copyright literacy education in universities. The research will be undertaken from a critical perspective, with the goal of promoting fair dealing and other exceptions as user rights within the institution, and a reduction in risk aversion.

The methodology employed is both qualitative and quantitative and includes legal analysis, content analysis of policies and guidelines, and collection of survey data.


Public doctoral lecture presented at The University of Western Ontario, November 29, 2016.

Supervisor Prof. Samuel E. Trosow.

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