Copyright Act does not protect teachers using internet: CMEC

Educational use permitted under the Act does not cover all internet material

An amendment to the Copyright Act is needed to allow students and teachers to use the internet for educational purposes, says the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). In a communique issued this week, CMEC cautioned that the current laws do not cover internet material, although educational uses of some print material is protected.

The act allows “users” (not just students and teachers) to “deal fairly” with copyright material if the purpose is private study, research, criticism, review, or news reporting. However, just what “dealing fairly” means is not clearly defined.

This is what CMEC worries could lead to schools, students, and teachers infringing copyright. The ministers want an amendment specifically for educational uses. “It is precisely because it is so difficult to decide whether many educational uses are permitted under fair dealing that education organizations seek a clear statement in the law that all educational uses of publicly available Internet material are not infringements of copyright,” CMEC argues.

As an example, the communique mentions that the law is unclear about whether it is permissible to show an entire TV show to a class if the teacher has accessed it online. Also, emailing a work to students could be considered making multiple copies. The Supreme Court of Canada has said that making multiple copies of a work tends to be an unfair use.