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Taking the Fear Out of Copyright Compliance in Manitoba

If you’re one of the many faculty, staff, and students in post-secondary institutions across Manitoba terrified by the concept of copyright compliance, you’ll be thrilled to know that a team of local educators has put together a new open educational resource (OER), Copyright Toolkit for Manitoba Post-Secondary Institutions to augment the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) Copyright Open Educational Resource for University Instructors and Staff. The resources are designed to help everyone in the province understand and incorporate the tricky topic of copyright compliance into their projects, assignments, additional OER, and academic life.

“The CARL Copyright guide is an excellent resource for everyone involved in post-secondary education throughout Manitoba,” shared Carley McDougall, acting executive director at Campus Manitoba. “And we are thrilled to support a local team in developing essential context around this very complicated topic; the supplemental resource brings significant value to the growing library of OER in Manitoba.”

Copyright Toolkit for Manitoba

Building Tools to Understand Copyright

The copyright resource from CARL is a set of video modules that provide an overview of copyright law in Canada as it applies to university settings. It’s general enough to be used in any institution, Canada-wide, but with some localization, the resource can provide significant value to individual institutions.

“Once the CARL copyright resource was publicly available, the University of Manitoba chose to adopt it,” said Althea Wheeler, Copyright Strategy Manager at the University of Manitoba. “We already had an institutionally specific copyright tutorial, but the guides from CARL are more broad-ranging and cover different copyright areas. Since this OER has open licensing, we adapted it for our institution: where the CARL guide said, ‘contact your institutional copyright representative’ or something similar, we updated it to provide information about who that is at the University of Manitoba. Also, by pairing the CARL guides with our in-house tutorial, we developed a self-directed course for our faculty and staff to enhance their understanding through a series of seven-minute animated video modules.”

The H5P format used by CARL to create the guides allowed UM to modify the materials simply by adding a new overlay via YuJa Video and then sharing with faculty, staff, and students by uploading them to UM Learn, the institution’s learning management system.

Making Informed Decisions Regarding Copyright

“Many people in post-secondary institutions are scared of copyright,” said Sasha White, Instructional Designer at Red River College Polytechnic. “It’s such a huge word that requires significant context, and the punitive implications of non-copyright compliance scare many people, including myself. When CARL released their copyright modules, I was able to follow along because I had a basic knowledge of copyright, but I felt that for those not as familiar with the concept, there was a great opportunity to pool our resources here in Manitoba to create a toolkit to support the modules. The Creative Commons license meant we could repurpose, rewrite, and adapt the materials, so we did that to contextualize the Manitoba post-secondary landscape.”

The Copyright Toolkit for Manitoba Post-Secondary Institutions was conceived and created by Sasha (at the time, Sasha was with the University College of the North) and course author Josh Seeland, Manager of Library Services at Assiniboine Community College (ACC). The kit was developed by Assiniboine Community College and University College of the North in partnership with Campus Manitoba, and a supplemental animated video for the module was created by Michelle Henriquez and Alyssa Jansen, former ACC students.

“Ideally, this is the first step for a potentially larger project around the topic of copyright for post-secondary education,” shared Josh. “For many of us, the primary reason to think about copyright was when something terrible happened, or we were concerned about challenges for our institutions. With other resources, the information about copyright is almost overly detailed as far as legalities, with few practical takeaways. Our goal with this toolkit was to use our backgrounds and experiences with copyright to make the topic more accessible — and a little less scary — for everyone.”

The OER provides actionable steps to clarify the significance of copyright literacy in a post-secondary context, help readers discern between protected and non-protected works based on the Canada Copyright Act, allow for compliant activities within Canadian copyright law, and suggest proactive ways to engage with copyright at their institutions.

“For most of the people involved in this project, we had learned about copyright in our positions to explain it to the stakeholders at our respective institutions so they could make decisions regarding copyright on their own,” shared Josh. “What was missing, for us, was the ability to bounce ideas off other people with similar experiences and understanding of the topic. Large institutions, like the University of Manitoba, have a designated Copyright Office with highly trained people. Places like Simon Fraser University, University Alberta, and other U15 universities throughout Canada have this kind of resource, but for most of us in Manitoba, there’s often only one person trained for it. Our goal was to make this toolkit accessible, empowering people by sharing much-needed knowledge without drowning them in the potentially terrifying parts of copyright.”

Passing the Torch

This OER toolkit covers the initial module of the CARL Copyright resource, but other modules could benefit from a similar approach. “This is the first module of a series adapted from CARL,” said Sasha. “I hope the resource we’ve created paves the way for other institutions to collaborate on future modules, building on what we’ve started and furthering the awareness and understanding of copyright for everyone within the post-secondary sector of Manitoba and the rest of the country.”

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