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Education ministers declare support for copyright law

March 27, 2018 ATA News Staff

Provincial and territorial education ministers from across Canada have issued a policy statement in support of current copyright law, which they fear may be changed in a way that would negatively impact teachers and students.

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) issued a statement saying that existing legislation “strikes a good balance between the needs of Canadian students and the publishing sector.” The council comprises the education ministers of all provinces and territories except for Quebec.

The statement’s release is in reaction to a mandated review of the Copyright Act by federal members of Parliament. It’s expected that MPs will consider the application of “fair dealing” to classroom uses of copyright-protected materials.

Five years ago the federal government changed the act to include education as a stated purpose in the fair dealing provision of the act. Supported by a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, the fair dealing guidelines allow teachers to communicate or make copies of short excerpts of copyright-protected work for students in their classes without having to purchase a copy of the entire work for each student in a class.

“We want to underscore for our federal counterparts that the guidelines respecting fair dealing used in K–12 classrooms are founded on the Supreme Court of Canada’s interpretation of fair dealing and play an important role in education,” said Zach Churchill, Nova Scotia’s education minister and chair of the CMEC Copyright Consortium.

“It’s important that copyright law balances the necessary protection of artists’ and writers’ works with the ability of teachers and students to use short excerpts from copyright-protected materials in their school work.”

The review of the Copyright Act has begun and is expected to continue through 2018. ❚

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