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Copyright Consultation Updates

August 28, 2009

An open letter to students at Athabasca University from President Frits Pannekoek urging students to speak out on the proposed copyright legislation. Pannekoek argues that “any legislation similar to Bill C-61 will have profound negative effects on researchers and educators as well as the general public” and mentions five substantive issues of concern: noncircumvention measures, format shifting, contractual over rise of fair dealing, statutory damages, and destruction of content. In particular Pannekoek is concerned that Bill C-61 provisions could marginalize and put at a disadvantage Canadian institutions that do e-learning and distance education: “This legislation could well end our ability to contribute to building Canadian and overseas learning communities. Countries with wiser copyright regimes that promote educational use will catapult ahead of Canada. No longer will we be internationally competitive because of the restrictions contained in the legislation. We need to seek balance between the protection of rights, the rights of learners, and our international competitiveness in distance and e-learning.”

Michael Geist argues that the government may be altering copyright submissions. In particular, he expressed concern that all  form letters sent though the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights were being treated as one letter with the names added to a single copy of the letter, even if the letters were modified in some way by the submitter.

Industry Canada disputed this allegation, with Nowak in the Globe and Mail reporting Director of Communication for Minister Clement, Darren Cunningham, stating  that “form letters will only be posted once on the website to avoid having the same letter appearing hundreds of times. Industry Canada has received more than 4,200 submissions so far, with some days seeing more than 500 letters come” (Nowak, 2009).

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