May 1, 2015
Teachers Talk - Copyright, are you playing fair?
Colin Hill, Director of Computer Services, Burman University, Lacombe, AB

Copyright law and its application in your classroom is probably not something that you think about every day.  But with increasing amount of content available on the Internet, with the increasing use of shared content through Google Docs, DropBox as well as other cloud drives, and with more teachers making material available for their students through web-based methods, it is something that we all need to be taking seriously because litigation is increasing as well.  Also, as educators, we must set the right example in this aspect just as would be expected in any other area. 
In order to raise the awareness of copyright issues and to ensure that all of our teachers (and all church workers) have easy access to pertinent information, TDEC is putting together a short course on this topic that will be hosted on the Adventist Learning Community.  It will guide the learner through:
  • an understanding of copyright,
  • a discussion of “Fair Use” and its application to the classroom or local church,
  • some guidelines on getting permission,
  • a look at case studies and
  • an exploration of myths and practical applications.
This course will be available for Continuing Education Units. We will ensure that the course either has an addendum that covers any Canadian differences from US law, or that these differences are noted throughout the course.  So, to give you a bit of a teaser of the course content and to give you something to start thinking about until the course is available, in my Teacher Talk this month we will look at the copyright topic and how it relates to your classroom and instruction.
The Copyright Act covers any original work as soon as it is fixed in a tangible means of expression.  The work must also be the result of some creative effort, and it does not cover the facts or ideas upon which the work may be based.  You do not have to register the work for it to be covered, but registration is necessary if you plan to license and charge fees for it, and registration will create a public record and become the evidence you may need to prove your ownership. Works in the public domain do not have copyright protection.  In Canada, works fall into the public domain 50 years after the death of the author.
You should not copy or reproduce the work that someone else has created without their permission, unless the use is permitted under the Copyright Act.  The “fair dealing” part of the act does allow for use of a work, without permission, for research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire and parody.  The area of “fair dealing” is where most confusion comes into classroom application.  Just because “fair dealing” may allow use of a work for educational purposes, there are additional guidelines that must be considered before you proceed.  For example, photocopying an entire textbook for a student to use because they do not have one would be a violation, but copying one short excerpt from that same textbook could be permitted. 
“Fair Use” includes several concepts.  Examining this idea further, as just mentioned, a “short excerpt” may be used under fair dealing, which is defined as:  up to 10 per cent of a work; one chapter from a book; a single article from a periodical; an entire newspaper article; an entire encyclopedia or dictionary entry; an entire single poem or musical score form a work containing other poems or musical scores; an entire painting, print, drawing, map, etc. from a book containing other such artistic works.  These short excerpts may be made available as class handouts, postings to a learning or course-management system that is password protected, or as part of a course pack. However, just because you break a work up into short excerpts which may be individually acceptable, you may not make the entire work in this manner in this manner. Any work reproduced or made available under fair dealing should mention the source and name of the author.
Let’s take a look at several other examples of what might be common teacher and classroom activities and see how current copyright law would allow. 
  • TV Show or Radio Recordings: A teacher may play a TV show or listen to a radio station if it is for educational or training purposes, however, playing a recording of that same radio transmission or TV program is prohibited without the payment of royalty fees. The one exception to this is for news or news -commentary programs (excluding documentaries).
  • An audiovisual work (DVD, video, Movie etc) copied by a teacher at home may not be shown in a classroom, but the same work may be shown if obtained legally from a rental store, borrowed from a library, borrowed from a friend or a YouTube video.  Be careful when considering showing a Netflix or other subscription service offering as “personal” or “household” use clauses may exist which would prohibit classroom use. 
  • Computer programs are allowed to be copied once for backup purposes, or to make it compatible for a particular computer.  Any other copying is prohibited unless covered under license agreements.  What about copyrighted digital material that is protected by a digital lock (encryption, password or other technology) that restricts the user from sharing or copying that material?  Breaking a digital lock is prohibited by the Copyright Act, so these materials cannot be copied even if they would have been otherwise covered by fair use. 
  • Publicly available Internet materials (those without any password protection or similar technology intended to limit access) are available for routine classroom use as long as there is no clear visible notice prohibiting educational use.  However, all such use by teachers and students must include a citation of the source.
  • A teacher may display (or make a copy for the purpose of display) a protected work for instructional purposes.  This would include projection on a whiteboard, LCD Screen, overhead or document camera.  Also, a teacher may make available a copy of a protected work for test or examination purposes.  However, in both these cases, the work must not be commercially available in an appropriate medium for this purpose. 
  • School libraries may make a copy for purposes of restoration, cataloguing, insurance or police investigation or interlibrary loan.  Copying is allowed for rare or deteriorating, fragile or obsolete formats, providing that replacement copies are not commercially available. 
  • Student may perform a copyrighted work such as a play, as long as it is on school premises for educational purposes in front of an audience primarily of students of that institution and not for profit,  The same play may not be performed before an audience of parents, or for a class fund-raiser, for example (without proper permission).  Performing music, recorded or live, would fall under similar limitations as noted here.  Copying of a musical score that is not in a work containing other musical scores is not permitted.  Examples of situations where playing or performing musical works would not be allowed without permission would be:  school sporting events; fundraisers, fairs and carnivals etc; telephone on-hold systems; background music in the cafeteria.
With online classes gaining popularity, there is a particular allowance that applies here.  Course material containing copyright protected material (under fair use) is allowed to be recorded and kept by a student for up to 30 days after the final evaluation (such as a report card) is made available.  After that date, both the school and the students are required to delete any recordings of that material contained in the on-line lesson.
This is just a brief glance at the copyright applications in the classroom, but I hope you will have found something applicable to you and your classroom in the above.  Remember that if you are unsure, getting permission is always the best route to follow. 
The following are university based information sites on copyright issues:
Burman University:

Ryerson University:
Concordia University:
Dalhousie University:
Some additional resources on Canadian Copyright and education:
The Educational Society
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
Canadian Intellectual Property Office
The Canadian Copyright Act:
The Adventist Learning Community (ALC) will be available at their web site:  The anticipated launch date of March 1, 2015 has passed, but we are hopeful that the site will be active by the publishing date of this article.  Watch the site for further notice of the availability of the Copyright course.