People You Should Know: Lauren Byl, Copyright & Licensing Librarian

Our “People You Should Know” blog series interviews key people and offices at the University of Waterloo so you can make the most of their services. 

Lauren Byl is the Copyright and Licensing Librarian at the University of Waterloo.

What does a copyright librarian do?

In my role, I answer copyright questions about use of materials in teaching, such as those related to the Fair Dealing Advisory, as well as provide guidance on copyright during the publication process. I’m also responsible for negotiating the Library’s licenses for electronic resources.

Why should faculty members know about your role?

Much of the work faculty do triggers copyright in some way—whether it’s their own rights as authors, asking permission to use other’s work, or what they can use in the classroom. Faculty should know about my role because I’m here to help make copyright easier to understand and provide guidance on University best practices.

“There’s no end to the ways that people consider using or adapting works.”

What are the most common questions you help faculty with?

On the teaching side, the most common question is “What can I share in LEARN?” Faculty want to know if they can share slides with imagescontent from eJournals, or scans of book chapters.

On the publishing side, the most common question is “What can I do with work I’ve published?” Faculty usually sign over copyright to their publisher during the publishing process; the agreement states what an author can do with their own work. 

What surprises you most in this role?

Copyright can be really complex and that means the questions people ask continue to surprise me; there’s no end to the ways that people consider using or adapting works.

What’s the most important thing faculty should know about copyright?

First, it’s okay if you’re confused, because it can be confusing!

Second, that there’s help available! 

  • Faculty can send all their questions to
  • For clearing copyright in course materials, Library Course Reserves staff, W Store staff (courseware), and staff at CEL (online only classes) can deal with copyright for you.

What’s the most confusing thing about copyright on campus?

Understanding when Library licenses come into play can be tricky. Keep this in mind: Library licenses are in place for almost all electronic resources available in the catalogue. This means that use of articles, book chapters, and other content accessed through Library databases/sources is governed by the contracts the Library signs, which state what we can and can’t do with the material. The Finding Usage Rights page provides instructions on how to find license information for the materials you want to use. If you’re unsure if a source is Library licensed you can reach out to and we’ll clarify. Remember that use of print materials is always covered by the Fair Dealing Advisory.

How do you stay healthy and balanced?

I walk to work in the warmer months, jog occasionally, and try to make time for pleasure reading. I’m currently blazing through Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized, and the first short story has a copyright angle that’s amazing!

Are there any productivity tools or practices you find essential?

I use Trello to keep a list of to-do’s in each area of my work, as well as to manage ongoing projects. It’s the tool that comes the closest to the feeling of paper lists and notes, which I’d prefer if they didn’t have the tendency to get scattered everywhere. I also find that dedicating a certain time out of my office (whether it’s working from another area on campus, or from home) can help give me the focus and concentration I need to work on more in-depth projects.

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