This is a copy of my response to the consultation on Bill C-32, Canada’s copyright reform act. Details and links to other responses can be found on Michael Geist’s blog. Comments are due by January 31.
Speaking as a scholarly author/creator, student, teacher, and librarian, here are my comments on what I see as the most critical aspects to consider with Bill C-32.
DIGITAL LOCKS AND PROTECTION OF DIGITAL LOCKS SHOULD BE LIMITED TO PREVENTING ILLEGAL USE OF MATERIAL
As Bill C-32 stands, circumvention of digital locks would be illegal, even if the use of the material is perfectly legal (e.g., private copying, making works accessible to the print disabled). This is a deeply troubling provision. There is no protection at all for authors such as myself who share our work freely on the Internet. What is to stop someone from putting a lock in between my work and those who would like to read it? My point is that if there are to be any provisions regarding digital locks, these should limit placing locks which circumvent legal use. If anyone places a lock on work that I have made freely available, the law should protect my right to share, and my reader’s right to have the lock removed.
Facilitating legal use should be REQUIRED, not just permitted. Selling digitally locked down materials that effectively prevent use by the print disabled is a practice that deserves to be outlawed, not protected!
FAIR DEALING FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES JUST MAKES SENSE
Canada is far behind other countries such as the U.S. when it comes to sharing material for educational purposes. Canada’s educational systems spend a great deal of money on materials covered by copyright, and this will not change with expanded fair dealing. It is in the best interests of creators to support education; without basic literacy, for example, there would be little need for written material of any kind.
COPYRIGHT LAW SHOULD RECOGNIZE AND SUPPORT THE EXPANDING NUMBERS OF CREATORS WHO PREFER TO SHARE WORKS FREELY
As a typical scholarly author, I write works in order to contribute to advancing the world’s knowledge, and the ideal for me is to share my works freely, for example through my institutional repository:
and my scholarly blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics:
Like many in today’s society, I have contributed Creative Commons licensed photos for free sharing to flickr, and occasionally participate in free collaborative services such as the Open Access Directory and Wikipedia.
As a prolific author / creator, what I would like to see is:
- a guarantee that works which I have made freely available will remain freely available
- elimination of automatic copyright (no copyright without registration)
- elimination of Crown Copyright; replace this with a requirement for open access to government-funded work
- shorter copyright periods, e.g. 14 years with one extension (and this not automatic)
- make it possible to place work directly into the public domain
Many thanks for the opportunity to participate. I will post a copy of this response to my blog, The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics
Heather G. Morrison
Simon Fraser University School of Communication
hgmorris at sfu dot ca