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Canada’s arts –performing and written –include a strong streak of satire and parody. Something I admire and enjoy. I learned tonight that Canada modernized its copyright law November 7, 2012. Inba Kehoe, Copyright officer for the University of Victoria, spoke to Victoria Writers Society tonight. The fair dealing part of copyright law was expanded to include use in education, yes, but also for satire and parody. Yay!

But the rules around how many words are included in fair dealing in Canada remain complicated. (The term fair use is employed in the U.S.) Kehoe kept referring to no more than 10% as a good guideline for quoting screenplays, movies or literary works from novels to poems. Attribution required. She also repeatedly recommended getting permission if any more than that is used. The law in Canada is that the author holds copyright to the work through his lifetime and the author’s estate has it for 50 Years after death, said Kehoe.

What does this mean to writers? We are better off relying on our own words anyway, our own thinking. Use a bit of someone else’s words if they are so clever or key to your piece they cannot be replicated. Attribute. Cut the extra. Assert your own thoughts.