CMEC Copyright Consortium issues policy statement on fair dealing

May 30, 2018

TORONTO–The Copyright Consortium of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), released the Education Ministers’ Policy Statement on Fair Dealing on March 7, 2018. The statement underlines the provincial and territorial education ministers’ support for teachers’ and students’ use of the fair dealing provision in the Copyright Act for classroom learning.

The consortium is composed of the ministers of education of all provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec. The ministers have constitutional authority for education in Canada, are responsible stewards of copyright and view copyright compliance as a priority.

 The statement reflects the Copyright Act and the Supreme Court of Canada’s interpretation of fair dealing which provides teachers and students with the ability to use short excerpts from copyright-protected materials for educational purposes.

Education ministers view the current Copyright Act as good public policy that achieves an important balance between user rights and creator rights.

“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,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development for Nova Scotia and chairperson of the CMEC Copyright Consortium. “The current copyright law and the Supreme Court of Canada’s interpretation of fair dealing ensure that Canadian students are on a level playing field with students in other countries.” 

Federal MPs have begun a mandated review of the Copyright Act and are expected to be studying copyright law through 2018. One issue MPs may probe is the application of fair dealing to classroom uses of copyright-protected materials.

“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 Churchill.

The Education Ministers’ Policy Statement on Fair Dealingcan be found at www.cmec.ca.

In 2016, the consortium launched the Copyright Decision Tool, an online resource developed for teachers to help consistently apply fair dealing in their classrooms. The Copyright Decision Tool helps teachers to decide if fair dealing permits them to use copyright-protected materials without first getting copyright permission.