Copyright awareness needed ahead of review

Tom Adam wants you to understand, use and advocate for copyright in the academic setting.

With Fair Dealing Week (Feb. 20-24) just behind us, and a a statutory review of the Canadian Copyright Act coming this fall, it’s critical to remember the importance and the tenuousness of copyright’s status quo in postsecondary institutions, noted Adam, Western’s Copyright Librarian.

“All of the reports we are hearing is the entire act is up for grabs; anything can be changed. Just as education was added as an allowable purpose for fair dealing in 2012, if that portion of the act was opened up for detailed scrutiny and review, we could lose that,” he stressed.

“Education could be removed; it’s probably unlikely, but the potential is there. And that just means what we do in the classroom could totally change.”

The act’s addition of education under the auspices of fair dealing in 2013 gave universities a great deal of latitude in what they could do with copyrighted materials, Adam explained. What could be posted and shared in learning management systems such as OWL expanded. What instructors could display in classrooms, even music they could play as they welcomed students in was fair game for use, provided it stayed within educational parameters – online and in the classroom – with a defined student audience.

“If educational fair dealing is rescinded in November, we would have to get permission for all of that. Being aware of (fair dealing) and advocating for that is important. We’re not trying to get something for nothing; we’re advocating for what the act allows us to do, and where that doesn’t apply, we’re willing to, and responsible enough to compensate,” he added.

“We’re not out to get Canadian authors and kill publishing in Canada, but by the same token, we’re not going to pay twice for one thing,” Adam continued, noting academics on campus are doubly affected by fair dealing and copyright parameters and need to be especially aware of their rights and privileges.

Copyright is everyone’s responsibility on campus, he said, but faculty members are both users and creators of copyrighted content. They need to be aware of their rights when teaching, publishing, presenting at conferences, accepting funding for research and negotiating contracts.

‘When you publish, does your publisher require that you cede copyright? Losing control of what can be done with your work is sort of typical in academic publishing, and for the most part, when you publish in an academic journal, they require you turn copyright to them,” Adam said.

Academics can negotiate and build an addendum into their contract to retain copyright, he added. What’s more, publications that come out of research that is publicly funded by one of the tri-agencies also place a limit on academics. Funding agencies are now requiring open availability of publicly funded research, putting scholars in a tough spot.

“Faculty are getting squeezed from two sides. The tri-agencies have an open access policy; if you get funding, with journal articles that result from the funding, there is a requirement they be openly available to the public within a year. That’s causing a lot of anxiety with some faculty authors because the way some journals are getting around this is by charging them extra article processing fees,” Adam explained.

“They can publish in a journal of their choice, but they can negotiate in a retention of their copyright, if they so choose. They can publish on Scholarship @ Western, where they don’t have to pay any article processing fees to comply with tri-agency (public access) requirements. Uploading to Scholarship @ Western will satisfy that.”

Understanding what faculty members can and can’t do is paramount, he added, and while publishers may be imposing what sounds like “Draconian requirements,” there are ways, such as the above, to satisfy what needs to be done, without compromising one’s rights.

“There are three points – we have to understand copyright, we have to use it responsibly, but we also have to advocate for it. And I think that’s important as we prepare for the review.”