Contact North (2012) The Perfect Storm: Canadian Copyright Law 2012 Sudbury ON: Contact North

Contact North has just published a review of the implications for online learning of Canada’s brand new copyright law (and some recent judicial rulings on copyright). The implications are in fact profound. Its main conclusion:

…copyright law in Canada has moved strongly towards user interests with the result that educational institutions, faculty/instructors, and students enjoy far greater flexibility in using and working with copyright materials. 

 This is particularly true for online learning and technology-assisted initiatives given the Court’s emphasis on technological neutrality … as a governing principle of Canadian copyright law. The implications are very significant as they will allow faculty/instructors and educational institutions to more freely use materials for online learning purposes with reduced fear of liability.

The document summarizes the main provisions of Bill C-11, the long-debated copyright reform bill passed by the Canadian parliament in June 2012, that have implications for educational use, and also summarizes three Supreme Court of Canada decisions in July 2012 relevant for the purposes of education and online learning. The three main implications can be summarized as follows:

  • an unequivocal endorsement of users’ rights
  • technological neutrality as a foundational principle of copyright law
  • expansion of fair dealing.


  1. I am definitely not an expert in copyright law, so I strongly recommend that you read the document in its entirety.
  2. Remember that the Contact North publication is an opinion, an interpretation of the law.
  3. Other interested parties, such as Access Copyright, will also certainly interpret the law differently.
  4. Having said that, it seems incredible to me (even though I am an author myself and a member of Access Copyright) that universities would have still signed up with Access Copyright, given the changes in the law, if Contact North’s interpretation is correct.
  5. Remember this is Canadian law and will not apply to other jurisdictions.
  6. This is not carte blanche to copy anything. Copyright still exists in Canada, and there are still limitations, even for educational use. Check with your institution’s copyright expert.
  7. Thank God this is over, at least for the time being (although I am sure that lawyers will continue to make tons of money in challenging the law and its application).

Other posts on this topic

Clint Lalonde (2012) Does section 30 of Bill C-11 really mean we have to destroy online lessons 30 days after a course ends? Angry Young Computer, July 26




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