Western Libraries Marks Fair Dealing Week 2018

Published on March 02, 2018

Friday March 2nd officially closed the 4th annual Fair Dealing Week in Canada. The goal of this national observance is to educate, raise awareness, and communicate the importance of this vital user right. Articulated in section 29 of the Canadian Copyright Act, fair dealing provides exception from infringement for users of copyright-protected materials provided the copying is done for one of the specified purposes and the dealing is fair.

Fair Dealing Week ButtonEducational fair dealing was the focus of a Western Libraries Fair Dealing PopUp that travelled to locations across the university throughout the week. Piggybacking on our successful digital literacies popup series, the display challenged passers-by with nine typical true/false scenarios relating to use of copyright protected work by the campus community. Situations ranged from copying a chapter of a course text and seeking permission to include excerpts of a work in a paper, to showing videos for a class project and copying images into a presentation. Chocolate and a Fair Dealing Week button rewarded participants whether or not a lift of the answer flap revealed the guess was correct.

Stations in Taylor on Monday and Weldon on Tuesday were facilitated by library staff, while Wednesday in Law, Thursday and Friday in the FIMs Graduate Library operated as self-serve. Reports indicate while the number of interactions with passers-by may have been slightly fewer than at other popups we’ve done, the conversations and interactions with facilitators tended to be longer. Many - students, faculty and staff - were taken aback by some answers. “That’s sick” and “Really! I didn’t know that.” often accompanied an unexpected reveal and from time to time Western Libraries was commended with comments like “You guys are doing really cool stuff!” One participant in Taylor noted, “The questions are difficult to answer, which means that there's a clear need for more education on this.”

Western’s initiative joined events at our colleague campuses all across Canada as well as social media campaigns #faircopyright, #fairdealingworks, #fairdealingweek, and projects, both by individuals and groups such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, that were scheduled during the week.

Two perhaps merit highlighting.

Fair Dealing Week Canada logoCARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries) has assumed administration of the national fair dealing web presence. On Monday, it released a renewed website to provide space for information and a place to post your support of fair dealing in the form of a testimonial articulating the importance of fair dealing to you or in your practice. Among the resources available from CARL is Fair Dealing in Canada: Myths and Facts, a key information sheet that sheds light on some current fair dealing urban legends.

Michael Geist, University of Ottawa law professor, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law and an articulate and outspoken copyright expert, blogged each day. His posts spoke to the impact of fair dealing with respect to the fundamental right to read, the lawsuit to recover overpayments from Access Copyright, and the importance of fair dealing for creators, freedom of expression, and news reporting. His blog is always an informative and enjoyable read but these five Fair Dealing Week posts are particularly significant since they detail and highlight the breadth and reach of fair dealing to all Canadians.

While it is good to set aside dedicated time each year to consider fair dealing, it is equally important that thinking and talking about fair dealing and copyright is not restricted to a single week at the end of February. Perhaps this is especially relevant more than ever now, as we have begun the mandated five-year review of the Copyright Act. We have experienced lobbying efforts by other sectors such as writers and publishers groups and Access Copyright, in an attempt to dismantle fair dealing, as the Act is scrutinized, and revisions to it are discussed. Fair dealing is our important statutory right. It impacts everyone, whether we realize it or not. Enjoying the statutory rights guaranteed by the Act demands that we understand them, employ them and equally as important, advocate strongly to preserve them.