CAUT/ACPPU Bulletin Online
Bill C-61, the federal government’s proposed amendments to the Copyright Act, drastically restricts access to electronic documents and online material. If passed into law by Parliament, the amendments will represent a major setback for the interests of teachers, librarians, students, researchers and consumers.
“We are deeply disappointed the Conservative government caved to American entertainment industry demands and is limiting the rights of Canadians to access information and entertainment,” said CAUT executive director James Turk.
The draft legislation introduced June 12 will make it more difficult for university and college teachers and students to have access to learning and research materials, according to Turk. Some of the proposed changes to the law prohibit the circumvention of digital encryption — any device or technology that prevents copying. This means material that can be copied now if in a paper format, cannot be copied for ordinary educational or research purposes, if it is in electronic format and digitally encrypted.
“In prohibiting circumvention, the proposed legislation will lock down a vast amount of digital content, preventing its use for research, education and innovation,” Turk said.
“This could be the effective end of fair-dealing, the right to copy and use works for purposes such as research and private study.”
The new bill will also mandate the destruction of electronic interlibrary loan and course material shortly after their initial use.
Aside from expressions of support from the international entertainment industry and their Canadian spokespersons, the introduction of Bill C-61 was greeted with widespread derision. Educational, library and consumer and student organizations have condemned the amendments and are gearing up for a long struggle as the legislation proceeds through the Parliamentary process.
Opponents of Bill C-61 are optimistic the legislation will be defeated.
Sam Trosow, a copyright expert at the University of Western Ontario and a member of CAUT’s Librarians Committee said MPs are vulnerable to pressure on copyright issues.
“This legislation represents a setback for the cause of balanced copyright in Canada. It is excessively complex, restricts many existing rights and offers no real protections to average Canadians. In many ways it is even worse than the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which has been the model for the Harper government.”
CAUT will make copyright a major issue in the next general election, according to Turk.
“As we approach the election, we will do everything possible to help our member associations raise this issue with the candidates and the local media,” he said.
“We will be emphasizing our concerns in our discussions with the government, the opposition parties and the national press.”