Notes from the Copyright Awareness Roundtable, July 2014

The roundtable we hosted this past Wednesday, July 23rd on copyright and contemporary librarianship was a resounding success! Thanks to all who attended and especially to our fantastic speakers who took the time to share their professional experiences and offer approaches to issues such as copyright literacy, risk mitigation, advocacy, and institutional policies. We’ve provided key points from the talk below:

Tom Adam, Project Manager and Special Advisor to the Provost
The Copyright Literacy Project @ Western

  • The library is the place where people should come for copyright information, especially in an academic environment
    • As creator, user and enabler of content as well as resources/tools for the academic community
  • The Copyright project is currently in its third phase
    • (1) Fall – December 2013: Environmental scan, launch of copyright website
    • (2) January – May 2014: Further development of website, strategies for delivering the message campus-wide
    • (3) June – December 2014: Sustainability
  • Many of the concerns are the same – still a matter of considering the rights of both creators and users
    • However with the five pivotal cases, the landscape has changed especially with regard to higher education
    • Can look to action in the courts for guidance
  • Copyright Decision Map offers a foundational tool to help users think about copyright and make sense of Fair Dealing
  • Copyright literacy is not a matter of “policing” or “going after infringement” but rather making copyright part of the conversation

Bobby Glushko, Scholarly Communications & Copyright Librarian
University of Toronto

  • There continues to be a real market for librarians with a knowledge of copyright law – it is a growth industry
  • The role of the librarian can be considered in terms of risk mitigation
    • For those disregarding the law, there is a need to convey a sense of ‘reasonableness’ and reduce the likelihood of serious legal consequences
  • It is important to establish the narrative of an institution that respects copyright law
  • Libraries and universities have an opportunity to expand the conversation on copyright
    • While the law can be complicated (not written to be easily comprehended, instills a lack of certainty) doubt and fear should not overshadow academic activity
      • Librarians can focus on the parts that are comprehensible like fair dealing and make this easier to understand by “harnessing a narrative”
  • It is useful to consider copyright in the context of the doctrine of Jack Bernard:
    • (1) “Righteousness is our greatest ally as librarians” – we should be focusing on our positive role of facilitating knowledge
    • (2) Think about your actions in a narrative context – How are you approaching something? Will this look good or bad [in a court of law]?
      • Not a matter of “outsmarting the courts” or disregarding and going ahead
      • Instead we must think about and research what we can do – work with the rights we have in this area… there is a great deal of potential

Sam Trosow, Associate Professor
FIMS and Faculty of Law, UWO

Following the ruling of CCH v. LSUC in 2004, librarians were granted the privilege to provide legal advice to library patrons on copyright issues. This authority allows us to influence policy on copyright through five venues:

  1. International treaties/agreements
  2. Parliament (e.g. Bill C-32, Bill C-11)
  3. Courts: infringement litigation and review of Copyright Board decisions
  4. Copyright Board (tariff applications)
  5. Local institutional policies.

In order to change policy, there must be action at all levels of society. Institutional policy change is the easiest way to make change at your own establishment and it is often overlooked by librarians as an effective means. The mobilization of academic libraries in the area of copyright policy has been lagging behind in Canada, and has only become an important issue since Bill C-11 was passed, the Copyright Pentalogy was ruled by the Supreme Court, and Access Copyright changed its licensing agreement with CAUT. Librarians in every setting should exercise their right to influence policy in a democratic direction that pushes our mandate as information providers.

The importance of copyright officers with M.L.I.S. backgrounds will likely become more prevalent in the years to come, even in non-library settings. This is tied to commentary by Kenneth Crews, who argues that educating authors and students in all aspects of copyright law (meaning both the things you can’t do and also the things you can) is essential to academic freedom and the advancement of knowledge.

Please see the attached slides:

PLG Roundtable talk – Institutional Copyright Policy-making

3 thoughts on “Notes from the Copyright Awareness Roundtable, July 2014

  1. Thank you for this great summary. The three speakers have imparted some very important information about how to manage copyright in the post-secondary institutional setting. I look forward to seeing what’s to come at Western.

  2. Reblogged this on Fair Dealing in Education and commented:
    On July 23, the London chapter of the Progressive Librarians Guild hosted a Copyright Roundtable, featuring lectures from Tom Adam of the University of Western Ontario, Bobby Glushko of the University of Toronto, and Prof. Samuel Trosow of the University of Western Ontario. The PLG have posted an informative summary of the content of the Roundtable on their blog,

  3. Reblogged this on Call No. of Cthulhu and commented:
    Last week, PLG London hosted a Copyright Awareness Roundtable on copyright law in libraries today. The role of librarians in the future will involve informing the public about copyright law in a manner that respects the balance of author’s rights with user’s rights. Check it out.

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