The Copyright Modernization Act passed in 2012 has provided greater flexibility in the use of available materials for learning purposes. Education is now considered an allowable area under the Fair Dealings provision of the new copyright laws. In addition, as described by Deputy Minister Tim Wiles, “the updated Act now contains a clause clarifying that teachers and students may use publicly available Internet materials for their learning and educational pursuits.”(Wiles, personal communication, Dec. 7, 2012).
While this is indeed good news for educators, I wonder if there may be a negative side effect to these less restrictive copyright laws. Nenych (2011) stated “Until the Copyright Act is amended to facilitate use of materials in educational settings, it is important to keep in mind that making unauthorized copies of copyrighted materials poses legal risks. (p. 6). The use of the word ‘until’ suggests that once educational settings are legally considered a purpose for dealings, teachers will not need to be so concerned with copyright infringement. Now that schools are included in the fair dealings, how likely will it be that teachers suddenly consider it a priority to ensure understanding of these less restrictive laws? If things have become easier, then where is the need or motivation to become fully knowledgeable about these laws, which do still have several limitations?
I believe that teaching about copyright laws is an essential component of Digital Citizenship, and agree that “..students, faculty, and other users of copyrighted materials need to perceive copyright law as just and ethical,” not simply a rule to obey to avoid punishment. (Horova, 2010). The question is, how do we make it happen?
Horava, T. (2010). Copyright communication in Canadian academic libraries: a national survey. Canadian Journal of Information & Library Sciences, 34(1), 1-38.
Nenych, L. A. (2011). Managing the legal risks of high-tech classrooms. Contemporary Issues In Education Research, 4(3), 1-7.