Fair dealing policy for universities | Universities Canada

There has been evolution regarding fair dealing of copyright material in Canada. The latest amendment to the Copyright Act is dated 23 June 2015 and was current as of 20 August of this year. As far as I could tell, no where in the document is fair dealing defined in percentages of the copyrighted work. I admit I used technological means to search, grep, scan, and so I might have missed something. I was using “percent,” “per cent,” “%”; maybe more. The result was the same, no matter what. Fair dealing employs a contextually sensitive definition, as the name suggests; not a prescriptive one. Dependencies are clearly laid out.

I asked my academic friends at various Canadian universities throughout Canada about their experience with fair dealing, especially in light of the recent pressures put on Canada law by international trade agreement discussions, by powerful and rich media companies, and by other interested institution making and distributing (or redistributing) copyright material.

That’s how I found Universities Canada guidelines for fair dealing. They assert that the limit is 10 percent of a copyrighted work. They reference the 2012 landmark decisions that clarified fair dealing, but then come up with this:

(a) Up to 10% of a copyright-protected work (including a literary work, musical score, sound recording, and an audiovisual work)

Source: Fair dealing policy for universities | Universities Canada

Where does that come from? I mean the 10 percent. In some performative instances, the approach to fair dealing has been more programmatic. (Not hard to guess why.) But I couldn’t find the 10 percent rule as it applied to, say, “literary work.”

Surely, I’m missing something.

But I’m also always curious to learn how institutions like the Universities Canada get funded and are able to assert this sort of authority. The institutions is not new; it’s been around, in one form or another, since the start of the 20th century. But who funds it? I didn’t look very hard. My guess would be a tithe, exacted on universities (all of which are funded by the provinces), but it could have a more interesting history. As it’s late here and I have a cold, I’ll look into this tomorrow. But, I’m really curious how the institution can come up with a figure so precise (not even an “about ten percent”) by what seems a lot like fiat.

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