Copyright Revealed – for Teachers

Copyright definition

Copyright defined from Murphy & Company.

Copyright laws are something you, as a teacher, are probably familiar with. But, what about your students?  Students who are consumed by digital media and Internet sharing need to be aware of the laws surrounding the material they copy.  You can help your students understand copyright by talking about it anytime they might need to copy information, and by setting a good example yourself.  In this post I will help to bring you up to speed on recent changes to copyright laws so that you and your students can become one with copyright.

Development of copyright laws has historically depended on information of the analog world, where print was usually the only means for sharing knowledge.  Copying print materials can be difficult, time consuming and expensive.  Usually it results in decreased quality from the original work.  During these times it was difficult to copy others work.  Someone would probably notice you trying to photocopy an entire book.  So it made sense to buy the original copy.

However, digital media and the Internet has made hard copy information, like books, newspapers, c.d.s, etc., easily available to copy and consume without paying a dime.  In response, copyright laws in Canada were revised to include the changing forms of information sharing last November.  Considering how long Internet and information piracy has been going on for, Canada is a bit late on the band wagon.  But, better late than never I guess.

In Canada the copyright owner is the person who generates the work.  The work must be fixed in some recognized format, and demonstrate judgement and skill.  Important for educators to note is that fair dealing allows free copying for education, parody, satire, study, review, and criticism.  Additionally, education material found in digital form can be reproduced/shared without permission (Ex. Mooc’s).  However, you must source the work in ways that the creator requires.

For more in-depth description of copyright laws in Canada, see the Canadian Intellectual Property Office: Copyright Primer here.

Copyright is a relatively simple matter to navigate when using materials in and from the same country.  The lovely world of the Internet ups the complexity by stretching copyright issues across national boundaries.  You may want to quickly check educational copyright laws of other countries if you are using education materials created outside of your own country.

Hopefully this has helped you to obtain a general understanding of how copyright operates in the digital world and in your Web 2.0 classroom.  It is definitely worth the investigation, rather than mistakenly breaking the law.

If you want to do some further research, Media Arts has an excellent article: Rethinking Copyright in the Media Age.  Murphy and Company, a Vancouver law firm, provide a detailed explanation of the updates to Canadian Copyright Laws available here.


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