Canadian Association of University Teachers

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(Ottawa – November 16, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is urging Ontario’s colleges to return to the negotiating table with faculty in order to reach a collective agreement.

In voting held this week, 86 per cent of striking faculty rejected the employer’s contract offer.

“The recognition and protection of academic freedom is one of the key remaining issues that motivated the ‘no’ vote. The College Employer Council needs to move on this if a fair deal is to be reached,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson.

“Academic freedom in teaching is a widely-recognized professional right that allows faculty to decide on the most appropriate teaching methods and practices,” Robinson explains. “College teachers are best placed to make these decisions based on what they know about their students, the nature of the subject they are teaching, and their experience of what engages and motivates students to learn.”

Robinson adds that academic freedom for college faculty is particularly important today given that colleges and universities in Ontario are increasingly working together in close partnerships. Collaborative programs, articulated pathways, and joint research projects between universities and colleges are now commonplace.

“However, college faculty are denied the academic freedom that their university counterparts enjoy,” says Robinson.  “This exposes college faculty and their work to outside pressure and censorship, and threatens to inhibit more collaboration.” 

According to Robinson, academic freedom is essential to the provision of quality education and research.

“The purpose of teaching in a college or university is not to simply transmit information or to provide students with ready-made conclusions. It is to enable students to reason independently and to develop the skills to think critically and intelligently in all aspects of their lives. College faculty cannot fulfill this purpose unless they have the freedom to exercise their best professional judgment over their teaching and the ability to model critical thinking in their classrooms,” says Robinson.

While the College Employer Council is proposing to develop institutional policies on academic freedom, Robinson says the only way that academic freedom can be effectively enforced is if it is included in a collective agreement.

“Embedding academic freedom as a right in a contract allows faculty recourse to the grievance and arbitration process to resolve any disputes. Institutional policies simply lack the same enforcement mechanisms and can be changed unilaterally at any time by administrations,” he says.

“College administrations in Ontario would do well to recognize that when you respect academic freedom and let the professionals play a key role in academic decision-making, you improve the quality of education that students receive. It is no secret that the best colleges and universities in Canada and around the world are those that recognize the academic freedom of faculty as a foundational value,” Robinson adds.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers is the national voice of 70,000 academic staff working in more than 120 universities and colleges across Canada.

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Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

Author: bourne
Posted: November 16, 2017, 6:51 pm

(Ottawa — November 10, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is speaking out against a private bill to amend the Université de Montréal (UdeM) Charter which threatens the principle of  collegial governance and infringes upon fundamental rights and freedoms of academic staff.

The Charter — a private act of Quebec’s National Assembly — governs faculty and defines operational powers at UdeM. The University administration tabled a bill last August to “modernize” the Charter, and the Quebec government has until November 15 to  bring it before members of the National Assembly.

“Under the false pretense of modernizing its Charter, the Université de Montréal administration is attempting to bring an end to collegial governance at the University and make radical changes in faculty working conditions without bargaining,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “This is unacceptable, and Philippe Couillard’s government should nip it in the bud. Collegial governance is the cornerstone of academic freedom and governance in our universities, and cannot be tampered with.”

The bill strips power from the University assembly  and concentrates it in the board of governors’ hands, as well as introduces draconian changes to the board’s composition  by ushering in members of the community.

“The administration  is using subterfuge to concentrate power and change the composition of the board to be overwhelmingly made up of business people who have nothing to do with academia and little understanding of how a university works,” Robinson added. “The bill will act as a Trojan horse not only in Quebec, but across the entire country. It should be withdrawn, because it is not in the public interest and goes against the fundamental rights of academic staff.”

CAUT represents over 70,000 academic staff working in more than 120 universities and colleges across Canada.

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For more information, please contact:

Valérie Dufour, CAUT Director of Communications — dufour@caut.ca or 613-293-1810

Author: keller
Posted: November 10, 2017, 4:17 pm

(Ottawa – 8 November, 2017) The University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology Faculty Association has reached a tentative agreement between its teaching faculty members and the administration just ahead of a strike deadline.

Details of the agreement will remain confidential pending ratification. The main issues at stake in negotiations were compensation and workload.

Teaching faculty at UOIT have the highest workload in Ontario for teaching-intensive academic staff, and are amongst the lowest paid.

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Author: bourne
Posted: November 8, 2017, 6:13 pm

(Ottawa – November 6, 2017) If you haven’t joined the more than 1,400 people who have responded to the CAUT Contract Academic Staff (CAS) Survey, you still have a chance. The survey deadline is being extended until December 15th.

The survey is open for individuals who taught at least one course in the 2016-2017 academic year at a post-secondary institution in Canada. This first national survey will shed light on the working experiences of the thousands of academic staff who are hired to teach on a temporary basis every year.

“We decided to extend the deadline to be able to reach more people to get a better picture of the ever-growing numbers of academic staff trapped in precarious contract and part-time work,” explained CAUT’s director of research and political action, Pam Foster.

Author: bourne
Posted: November 6, 2017, 4:17 pm

(Ottawa – October 26, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on Dalhousie University to amend its Student Code of Conduct after a student leader was investigated for Facebook postings she made over the summer.

“One of the core missions of universities is to help students develop critical thinking skills and prepare them for being active citizens in a democratic society,” noted CAUT executive director David Robinson. “A university undermines this mission and violates democratic values when it restricts the free expression of its students.”

Masuma Khan, vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), faced a complaint under the Student Code of Conduct after she took to social media to defend her group’s decision not to participate in or endorse the Canada 150 celebrations. Responding to critics on Facebook, Khan used a number of expletives and wrote “white fragility can kiss my ass. Your white tears aren’t sacred, this land is.”

The University initially found that Khan may have violated the Code by engaging in “unwelcome or persistent conduct that the student knows, or ought to reasonably know, would cause another person to feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed,” and began a formal disciplinary investigation against her. After a storm of protest, the University announced it was dropping the investigation.

“The incident exposes serious problems with the interpretation and application of the Code,” said Robinson.  “Khan’s choice of words may not have been polite, but those words do not rise anywhere near the level of justifying censorship or discipline. Dalhousie, as do all universities, has a responsibility to ensure that speech which challenges and even offends powerful interests is encouraged. The Code has to allow for free expression.”

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Author: bourne
Posted: October 26, 2017, 5:22 pm

(Ottawa – 16 October 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) stands with the more than 12,000 Ontario college faculty and librarians on strike for a fair deal.

The teachers, represented by the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU), took job action today after the College Employer Council failed to agree to longer contracts for part-time faculty, and the adoption of academic freedom guarantees.

“We carefully crafted a proposal that responded to Council’s concerns about costs in a fair and reasonable way,” said JP Hornick, chair of the union bargaining team. “Unfortunately, Council refused to agree on even the no-cost items, such as longer contracts for contract faculty and academic freedom,” she said.

“College teachers in Ontario are taking a stand for quality education, and they have the support of academic staff across the country,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “The principles at stake – job security, academic freedom, and better governance – are ones worth fighting for.”

OPSEU is calling for the number of full-time faculty to match the number of faculty members on contract. The union represents faculty at Ontario’s 24 public colleges. 

Author: bourne
Posted: October 16, 2017, 6:24 pm

(Ottawa – October 11, 2017)  An investigation into the relationship between the University of Calgary (U of C) and oil and gas pipeline giant Enbridge has concluded that the school’s president, Elizabeth Cannon, was in a conflict-of interest due to a co-existing and “highly-remunerated” role as an Enbridge board member.

The report, prepared by a committee appointed by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), also notes a “deeply worrying culture of silencing and reprisal” at the University, and finds that the actions of President Elizabeth Cannon and other senior administrators both damaged the U of C’s academic reputation, and compromised the academic freedom of faculty member Joe Arvai.

The investigation reviewed events occurring while and after the U of C secured sponsorship from Enbridge to establish the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability (ECCS) at the university’s Haskayne School of Business.  Dr. Arvai was named director of the institute, then left the position a week after he announced opposition on scientific grounds to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

“Academic staff have the right to engage in robust debate without fear of intimidation or reprisal,” says CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “The U of C not only failed to protect and promote academic freedom in this case, but succumbed to pressure by Enbridge to compromise the autonomy of the work being conducted within the ECCS.”

The report found that “the accumulation of the President’s dual role and appearance of a conflict of interest, her failure to recuse herself publicly, and the Board’s evident approval or acquiescence in this conflict and non-recusal amount to a significant failure of leadership that very likely has harmed the U of C’s reputation for academic independence and objectivity.”

According to the authors, Enbridge was allowed to name the Centre, design its public launch and determine academic priorities, all the while skewing the sponsorship in its own favour to “subordinate the university’s responsibilities as an academic body to the priorities of prospective donors in the oil and gas industry.”

“The Enbridge sponsorship reveals how easily a university can make itself dependent on corporate money” that creates “inherent pressures to compromise academic objectivity where it came into conflict with donor priorities,” the authors state.

 The eight recommendations in the report include a review of the governance structure and processes at the U of C in order to make them more transparent and clearly linked to the principles of academic freedom and collegial governance. As well, the report suggests that all senior university officials be barred from paid service on outside corporate boards; that relationships with external entities be reviewed and made to comply with CAUT recommendations on university-corporate collaborations; and that processes of collegial governance and shared decision-making involving the U of C leadership and faculty, students and staff should be reviewed and strengthened along with the overall accountability of senior administrators.

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Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

Author: bourne
Posted: October 11, 2017, 12:53 pm

(Ottawa – 6 October 2017)  On this day as we mark the 10th anniversary of World Day for Decent Work (WDDW), the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to highlight the role which the federal government can and should play in realizing and implementing a decent work agenda in Canada.

In this effort, CAUT joins with trade unions around the globe calling for government action promoting economic growth that puts people first.

As with many workers in different sectors throughout our country and the world, an increasing number of teachers at Canada’s colleges and universities are employed on short-term contracts with low pay, few benefits and no job security.

Such precarious employment undermines the quality of post-secondary education and unfairly compromises the future of talented researchers and teachers.

“Federal leadership is essential to promoting fair work conditions that support workers and tackle inequality,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson.  “Canada could serve as a model for best practices for other countries around the globe with the right effort.”

Author: bourne
Posted: October 7, 2017, 12:53 am

(Ottawa – 5 October, 2017) Today, the Canadian Association of University Teachers celebrates UNESCO’s World Teachers’ Day. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Higher Education.

CAUT played a central role in the development and adoption of the Recommendation, which is a non-binding standard-setting instrument providing an international framework of recommended practices concerning the rights and responsibilities of higher education teachers.

The Recommendation provides international guidelines on academic freedom, collegial governance, trade union and collective bargaining rights, individual rights and freedoms, terms and conditions of employment, and other professional rights.

“The Recommendation is more relevant today than ever before,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “In Canada, we see growing challenges to secure employment and good working conditions in post-secondary education. In other parts of the world, many academic staff  risk their lives in  pursuing their research, teaching students, or by simply exercising their civil liberties.”

It was in 1994 that UNESCO first proclaimed October 5 to be World Teachers’ Day, and this year’s slogan of “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” encompasses a special focus on institutional autonomy and academic freedom.

Author: bourne
Posted: October 5, 2017, 1:49 pm

(Ottawa – 2 October, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has made recommendations to the federal government’s consultations on the efficiency of the Copyright Board of Canada.

The Board’s administration of copyright law in Canada has a profound impact on CAUT members and the education system as a whole. However, engaging the Board in its current structure is complex and expensive. 

“There is little to be gained by increasing the efficiency of the Board, if public-interest stakeholders continue to be excluded from the process,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “We are calling for wider participation by groups who are currently shut out by cost. More voices need to be heard. ”

The consultation closed on September 29. Read CAUT’s submission here

Author: bourne
Posted: October 2, 2017, 8:16 pm

(Ottawa - 28 September 2017) Members of the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) set up picket lines today after last-ditch mediated negotiations failed to produce a satisfactory agreement.

LUFA’s 367 full-time and over 200 part-time academic staff had voted 91 percent in favour of job action and are fighting concession demands that would erode core faculty rights, reduce salary scale competitiveness and diminish eligibility for parental/pregnancy leave. Workload is also a major issue with administrators demanding an increased teaching schedule.

LUFA asks that supporters write letters to senior administrators at the school asking for a return to negotiations towards reaching a fair deal.

The union’s previous contract expired on June 30.  Faculty have not been on strike at the institution since 1989.

Author: bourne
Posted: September 28, 2017, 6:26 pm

(Ottawa – 27 September 2017) The announcement that Dr. Mona Nemer has been appointed by the federal government as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor is welcomed by the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

“It is our hope that Dr. Nemer will provide an unbiased perspective and non-partisan advice, allowing scientific expertise to become part of decision-making at the highest levels of government,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson.

“However, we urge that the position be made fully independent and accountable to Parliament and not just the government of the day.”

CAUT has advocated for the creation of a Parliamentary Science Officer. This recommendation was part of its submission to the Fundamental Science Review launched in June 2016 by the Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan.

“It is noteworthy that the Advisor is also to promote a positive and productive dialogue between federal scientists and academia, both in Canada and abroad, and raise awareness of scientific issues relevant to the Canadian public,” said Robinson. “The free flow of scientific information is more important than ever, and we applaud this stance in the face of attacks on science occurring more-and-more throughout the world.”

CAUT is also pleased that the Advisor’s mandate includes advising on how to implement processes that will ensure that science is considered when the government makes decisions; recommending ways to improve the existing science advisory function within government; and assessing how quality scientific research can be better supported within the federal system.

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Media contact:
Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers
(o) 613-726-5186 (c) 613-222-3530

Author: robinson
Posted: September 27, 2017, 8:05 pm

(Ottawa – 22 September, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has launched a national survey of contract academic staff (CAS) at Canadian universities, colleges and polytechnics.

The study seeks to understand the working experiences of the thousands of academic staff who are hired to teach on a temporary basis every year, in order to help improve their employment conditions and inform public policy.

“Ever-growing numbers of teachers at Canada’s colleges and universities are trapped in precarious contract and part-time work, creating serious implications not just for CAS, but for regular academic staff and students,” says CAUT Director of Research and Political Action, Pam Foster. “CAUT has launched this survey because it’s important we learn more about the impacts of casualization.”

The survey is open until November 1st to people who had a teaching contract at a polytechnic, college or university in Canada in 2016/17.

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Media contact:
Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers
(o) 613-726-5186 (c) 613-222-3530

Author: bourne
Posted: September 22, 2017, 2:22 pm

(OTTAWA– 20 September 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has issued a challenge today to the four NDP Leadership candidates to Get Science Right, pledge to invest in basic research and join the campaign to call on the government to restore science’s important role in creating a prosperous and innovative country.

The government of Canada has failed to keep pace with other countries in supporting the pursuit of knowledge. Scholars, scientists and students wishing to pursue independent research have seen a decline of available resources of about 35 per cent. Canada is no longer in the top 30 nations worldwide when it comes to total research intensity.

Canada must and can do better. With increased federal funding, researchers will be able to ask bold questions and seek the knowledge we need to enhance the quality of life for all Canadians. The federal government must catch up to the rest of the world by boosting its investments to grow our knowledge and talent advantages.

There is a path forward. The Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science has recommended a federal increase in investment in independent research of $1.3 billion for basic research, with better balanced allocation across the three research granting agencies.

CAUT is calling on Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh to step up and join the Get Science Right campaign. Canadians know too well what a decade of underfunding and muzzling scientists can do. With a strong federal partner, academic researchers can create the knowledge we need to improve the quality of life for all Canadians and help face local and global challenges. We hope NDP Leadership candidates agree.

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Media contact:
Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers
(o) 613-726-5186 (c) 613-222-3530

Author: bourne
Posted: September 20, 2017, 12:48 pm

(Ottawa - 19 September, 2017) Members of the Laurentian University Faculty Association (LUFA) have voted ninety-one percent in favour of job action in the event that a new collective agreement cannot be reached with the University’s Board of Governors.

“We are most grateful for this strong show of support from our members,” says LUFA president Jim Ketchen. “We don’t want to strike, but will if the administration isn’t willing to negotiate a fair collective agreement.”

LUFA is fighting concession demands that would erode core faculty rights, reduce salary scale competitiveness and diminish eligibility for parental/pregnancy leave. The parties are scheduled to meet September 24 in Toronto with a mediator. Negotiations are also set for later in the month and into October.

The union’s previous contract expired on June 30.  LUFA represents 367 full-time faculty and over 200 sessional staff, who will be in a legal strike position on September 28.

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Author: bourne
Posted: September 19, 2017, 7:21 pm

(Ottawa— 13 September, 2017)  The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has filed its argument before the Supreme Court of Canada in two appeals involving Trinity Western University (TWU).

The appeals spring from cases originating in Ontario and British Columbia between the university and those provinces’ law societies, both of which have rejected TWU’s attempts to gain recognition for its Christian law school. The British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the Law Society of British Columbia, while the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld denial of accreditation by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

CAUT intervention is based on the violation of academic freedom at the proposed law school.  There are four key aspects to academic freedom: freedom of teaching, freedom of research and publication, freedom to express one’s views in and of the educational institution (“intramural academic freedom”) and freedom to exercise citizenship rights without sanction (“extramural academic freedom”). 

TWU doctrine requires students, staff and faculty to adhere to “historic orthodox Christianity” where Scriptures must be believed and obeyed in their entirety.  CAUT argues that TWU’s faith test that reflects the TWU doctrine which faculty must meet on appointment and renew annually constitutes a violation of academic freedom as faculty are required to recognize and express the doctrine in teaching and scholarship.

“TWU’s Statement of Faith and Community Covenant requires academic staff to commit to a particular ideology or statement of faith as a condition of employment,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “Violating that commitment may result in discipline or sanction, and as such is an unwarranted and unacceptable constraint on academic freedom.”

In particular, it is the denial of same sex rights and relationships at TWU that led to the rejection of accreditation by the two law societies.  In the balancing of equality rights and freedom of religion under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at issue in these cases, CAUT takes the position that the violation of academic freedom at TWU would inhibit the promotion and protection of diversity that must be expected in legal education at a Canadian law school.

CAUT is one of 26 intervenors. The appeals will be heard over November 30 – December 1.

To read our factum, click here.

 

Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers

(o) 613-726-5186 (c) 613-222-3530

 

Author: bourne
Posted: September 13, 2017, 3:20 pm

 

(Ottawa— 1 September, 2017) Today — 145 years after Canada's first Labour Day events in 1872the Canadian Association of University Teachers celebrates the many achievements of the trade union movement, and commits to continued solidarity to further improve the lives of all working people.

Academic staff unions and associations have spent many years fighting for secure employment and working conditions that promote quality teaching, research, and community service. CAUT is committed to defending these principles in the face of challenges by many administrators, politicians, and business leaders pushing workplace changes that undermine economic security, devalue the profession, and erode the public good.

On this Labour Day, we are therefore reminded of the ever-present need for unity and vigilance. CAUT commits to continued work in solidarity with labour unions everywhere in defending workers’ rights both on campus and throughout the broader work force.

Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)

 

Author: dufour
Posted: August 31, 2017, 6:07 pm

(Ottawa — 28 August, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is calling on the federal government to invest in basic research in its next budget as the foundation for a diverse and inclusive society, an improved quality of life, and a strong economy. CAUT is urging the government to act on the recommendations of its Science Review panel and invest $1.3 billion over 4 years.

“Their own review has shown that the government has to become a stronger partner on basic research,” said CAUT Executive Director David Robinson. “Canada is losing ground on science compared to other countries.  Investing in research is investing in our future.”

CAUT’s pre-budget submission also makes recommendations to sustain Canada’s climate research networks, invest further in Indigenous education; strengthen employment equity programs, and increase federal transfers for post-secondary education.

“The next federal budget is a great opportunity for the government to show leadership and build a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive Canada,” added Robinson. “To realize this vision it must boost investments in fundamental science and post-secondary education as the foundations for a better future”, added Robinson.

CAUT is the national voice of 70 000 teachers, librarians, researchers, general staff and other academic professionals in 122 post-secondary institutions across the country.

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Author: bourne
Posted: August 28, 2017, 1:58 pm

(Ottawa — 21 August, 2017) The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) is launching a national campaign to call on the federal government to act on the recommendations of its Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science and invest in basic research.

“Canadians see the benefits of basic research every day. It saves lives, improves our understanding of the world, helps solve problems and strengthens our future, “said CAUT President James Compton. “Investing in scientific research is investing in our future.”

The Advisory Panel on Federal Support for Fundamental Science, chaired by David Naylor, delivered its report in April 2017. Its chief recommendation is to increase funding by 1.3 billion over four years.  The Panel noted that Canada has failed to keep pace with other countries and is losing opportunities to strengthen our knowledge and talent advantages.

 “Over the next months, CAUT will encourage the government to adopt the recommendations of the Naylor Report, including its call to increase support for basic science,” added Compton.

To get involved in the campaign, visit http://science.caut.ca.

 

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Author: bourne
Posted: August 21, 2017, 2:35 pm

(Ottawa – 12 July 2017) In a setback for balanced copyright, the Federal Court has sided with Access Copyright in a case against York University.

The case centred on the question of whether copying practices at York were subject to an Access Copyright tariff, and whether copies made within York’s fair dealing guidelines meet the test of fair dealing under the Copyright Act.

“We are very disappointed with the decision, and believe the court erred on the application of fair dealing and the mandatory nature of the tariff,” said CAUT executive director David Robinson. “We hope the decision will be appealed and that we will have an opportunity to intervene.”

Robinson says fair dealing allows the use of copyright-protected works, without permission from or payment to rights holders, if the material is used for research, education and other specified purposes, and meets certain fairness standards.

“It’s important that the education community work to preserve the principle of fair dealing and the rights of users to use copyrighted material for education and research,” Robinson added.

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Media contact:

Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers

(o) 613-726-5186 (c) 613-222-3530

 

Author: bourne
Posted: July 12, 2017, 7:55 pm