[gmonthly] !@! EXTRA: COPYRIGHT REVISIONS IN CANADA: HALF A LOAF IS BETTER THAN NONE
Michael S. Hart
hart at pglaf.org
Wed Jun 23 08:53:48 PDT 2010
COPYRIGHT REVISIONS IN CANADA: HALF A LOAF IS BETTER THAN NONE
by Mark Akrigg
Project Gutenberg Canada
**Life+50 duration retained**
The basic Life+50 copyright term is safe in Canada, at least for now.
There has been considerable pressure from foreign governments for Canada to
extend its copyright term, but the Copyright Act revisions unveiled in June
left the basic term of copyright unchanged. For this, the government deserves
our thanks and congratulations. They have upheld the public interest.
**Copyright extensions for some photographs and audio recordings**
However, harmful copyright extensions for some photographs and audio
recordings are proposed in the new Bill C-32, making an unwelcome return.
These provisions had been part of Bill C-61, a copyright bill introduced
before the last election, but never passed. Now these provisions are back.
For an explanation of these changes, and why they are harmful, see the Project
Gutenberg Canada submission to last summer's government-sponsored Copyright
**Nothing done to protect the public domain**
My submission to the government dealt largely with the issue of works where
the life dates of the authors are not known. Such situations are very common,
but the Copyright Act makes no provision for them. The preposterous result is
that such works have to be 140 years old before we can treat them as being in
the public domain. We proposed that specific provision be made for such
works, so that they are treated as being part of the public domain after 75
years. It is unlikely that such a provision would have encountered
significant opposition had it been proposed.
But it was not proposed.
The Saskatchewan Archives Board made a submission last summer explaining why
the copyright rules for photographs in place since the late nineties are
Nothing was done to address the Archives Board's simple and practical
suggestion of "a fixed term of copyright protection for photographs. The term
of fifty years from the creation that was used in the copyright law previously
is preferable from an archival perspective. A fixed term makes it easier to
determine the term of protection because the only information needed to make
the determination is the date the photograph was created."
It is nothing short of astounding that a solidly reasoned and entirely
straightforward suggestion from a provincial archive board should have been
ignored. The situation is even more astounding considering that 13 of the 14
MPs for Saskatchewan are members of the governing party, and are certainly in
a position to do something for their province.
The most controversial part of the bill is the absolute prohibition on
bypassing digital locks, even in the many cases where this is done for
entirely legal purposes, such as those allowed under fair use provisions.
The best explanation I have seen of this situation was provided in the Calgary
Herald, an Alberta newspaper, by Rory McGreal, associate vice-president,
research, at Athabasca University, a public university in Alberta:
All but one of Alberta's federal seats are held by the Conservative Party, and
the Prime Minister is the member for Calgary Southwest. Albertans are
certainly within their rights to ask their Members of Parliament to act in the
best interest of Albertans.
**What should Canadian supporters of the free ebooks movement do?**
The simplest and most effective thing to do is to contact your Member of
Parliament. Here is the contact information that you need:
Parliament has begun its recess, and MPs will be back in their ridings for the
summer. This is an excellent time to contact them, while they are close at
hand. In the fall, detailed consideration of the bill will begin. There is
also a strong possibility of a fall election. This means that sitting members
and nominated candidates will certainly be in a mood to listen to you, for the
moment at least! Points you might wish to emphasize are:
(1) An attack on the public domain is an attack on the public. Canada offers
generous copyright protection. Copyright extensions are not only unnecessary,
they are grievously harmful.
(2) Inaccessible parts of the public domain must be made accessible.
Incompletely documented works older than 75 years should be considered part of
the public domain. It is ridiculous that some works dating to the middle of
the reign of Victoria should be inaccessible to the public,
(3) Digital locks are prone to abuse by corporations, and are not entitled to
any kind of special protection. In fact, such practices as regional coding of
DVDs, making DVDs legally acquired in Europe and Asia unplayable in Canada,
are an unacceptable infringement of the property rights of individual
Canadians, and should be banned outright.
**CONGRATULATIONS ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR SUPPORT**
Last year, many of you were among the thousands of Canadians who made
submissions to the government's Copyright Consultations. Your submissions
were effective. One message that was unmistakable last summer was how
strongly opposed the Canadian public is to copyright extensions.
You spoke, and, to their great credit, the government listened. The basic
Canadian copyright term remains in place.
Thank you, and keep up the good work!
Project Gutenberg Canada
More information about the gmonthly