February 22-26, 2016 has been designated Fair Dealing Week in Canada. In the United States, this week is referred to as Fair Use Week. Fair dealing is an important legal doctrine that allows the public to make limited use of copyrighted works and content without being liable for copyright infringement. Fair dealing allowances are designed to balance the rights of creators with the rights of users as a way of enriching the greater public good.
The fair dealing provisions are found in Section 29 of the Copyright Act, and, in short, state that copying copyrighted content for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting does not infringe copyright.
Copying can be defined in many different ways: photocopying, scanning to a digital file, taking a picture with your mobile phone camera, ripping a song from a CD, or any other number of sophisticated or unsophisticated methods of reproduction of any kind of medium or format.
Some do conditions do apply. For instance, copying content for the purpose of criticism, review, or news reporting requires that you mention the author and source of the content. While acknowledgement is not always necessarily required in an educational context according to the law, it is simply good academic practice to properly cite your sources.
Because fair dealing is a purposefully flexible, inexact device, there are no specific legal prescriptions about how much someone can copy and when, though some significant court decisions have provided some useful considerations and parameters. The most important is the Six Factor Analysis articulated in the landmark case CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada (2004). A brief summary of the factors:
1. Purpose of the dealing: Does it fit one of the purposes explicitly listed in the Copyright Act?
2. Character of the dealing: How is the copied work dealt with? Limited copies with limited distribution would tend towards fairness.
3. Amount of dealing: How much of the work is copied? A lesser amount would tend towards fairness.
4. Alternatives: Is there a non-copyrighted alternative? Is the copying even required to fit the purpose?
5. Nature of work: Is it published, unpublished, and/or confidential? Would the copying lead to wider dissemination of the original? (One of the goals of copyright law.)
6. Effect of the dealing: Would the copying compete with the marketability of the original? If so, that would tend to be unfair.
To minimize the ambiguity of the six step analysis, some guidelines have been established to inform the copying practices conducted by UFV faculty, staff, and students. The UFV Copying Guidelines and Fair Dealing Requirements are detailed in the UFV Copyright Guide. Additionally, a dedicated information guide has been created to cover Fair Dealing Week 2016:
UFV Copyright Guide
Fair Dealing Week