Week 7 - Law Reform

Copyright is a hot topic around the world at the moment with multiple countries that have recently concluded or are currently conducting reviews of their copyright laws. Here in Australia, there have been two recent reviews; the Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) report on Copyright and the Digital Economy and the Productivity Commission (PC) report into Intellectual Property Arrangements. Both reports recommended the introduction of a Fair Use Exception or as a second best option a Fair Dealing for Education Exception; the Australian Educational sector (Schools, TAFE and Universities) has always supported and continues to advocate for Fair Use.

Unlike some other countries, we do not have a flexible, open ended exception such as fair use and teachers generally cannot rely on fair dealing for research or study when teaching.

We’d like your input on copyright law reform by looking at the copyright laws in Canada and the United States. Please complete the exercise below to see where you stand on the copyright law reform issues.

You can find a summary document here, and readings to further assist are listed below. There are also background and additional readings [here].


In a recent case, the Canadian Supreme Court held that schools can rely on the research and study fair dealing exception when a teacher copies works, within fair dealing limits, for distribution to students. The Canadian fair dealing provision was also recently amended to add new permitted purposes, including education, to the existing fair dealing purposes.

Guidelines on what education institutions may do under the new Canadian copyright laws have been released and can be found here.

Additional information on the recent Canadian law reform and the new guidelines can be found here:

United States

In the United States, the fair use exception (17 USC 107) is open-ended, but refers expressly to ‘teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use)’ as well as ‘scholarship or research.’ Schools and other educational institutions rely on this exception to copy for educational purposes. This includes copying of print and graphic works, broadcasts and other audio-visual works for classroom teaching and distance learning. In the context of copying for inclusion in an e-reserve, a US court has recently held that, as a general rule, copying of up to 10% of a work will satisfy the ‘amount and substantiality’ limb of the fairness test.

Guidelines covering what schools are allowed to do with copyright material in the US can be found here:

After reading and analysing the various copyright laws above, what do you think about them? Use the following questions to help with your answer (ie – you can answer all 7 questions below or you can just take them into consideration and write us a short paragraph on what you think!):

  1. Do you think the copyright laws listed above would be hard or easy to follow?
  2. Do you think the various educational copyright guidelines are fair?
  3. Do you think these copyright laws would make teachers’ lives easier or harder than in Australia?
  4. Do you think the above copyright laws are easier to follow than our copyright laws (from everything you’ve learned in this course)?
  5. Would you prefer to have our copyright laws or one of the above? Why?
  6. Are there any copyright laws in Australia that you would change (and if so, how would you change them)?
  7. Are there any copyright laws that are impeding your use of material in the classroom?

Please post (ie copy and paste) your answers in [this week's google folder], under your group's number, by the end of Sunday 9 December and finish your peer review by the end of Tuesday 11 December.

You can of course finish your peer review before 11 December (ie as soon as the groups you're reviewing submit), but if you're unable to do your peer review due to leave/school holidays, please get in touch with Rocco or Emma to discuss.


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