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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 1996

Copyright - Pushing for Phase II

Earlier this year the Liberal government tabled legislation to amend the Copyright Act. This honoured a long-standing promise of both the Conservatives and the Liberals, dating back to 1988, to bring in amendments to provide for the needs of researchers, educators and libraries.

The legislation is now before a Commons committee. At the end of October CAUT testified before this committee as part of an alliance with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, the Canadian Teachers' Federation, and the Canadian School Boards Association.

In 1988 the Conservatives brought in phase I of copyright reform which dealt with the rights of creators. CAUT supported the legislation but only on condition that parallel amendments would be introduced to deal with the needs of users in the educational community.

The amendments were promised but never delivered mainly because the phase II proposals contained a section on neighbouring rights which angered the powerful broadcasting lobby.

From the beginning CAUT has taken the position that it was reasonable for educational institutions to pay when there was multiple copying for the classroom.

But CAUT argued it was unreasonable to create a regime designed to force individual researchers to pay and to secure permission from the authors whenever they made one copy of a scientific article, particularly since their competitors at universities in the U.S. did not have to pay or seek permission. CAUT also argued that the new regime should not disrupt the inter-library loan system between universities.

Once in office, the Liberals reiterated the promises of their predecessors. The new legislation attempts to provide exemptions requested by the educational and research community. Two of the most important of these are the exemption for single copies of articles and for inter-library loan. Another important exception is for the visually disabled.

The Liberal legislation, from the point-of-view of educators and librarians, is the basic minimum needed to honour their promises. It follows fairly closely the suggestions made by CAUT in 1988.

Nevertheless there has been a vigorous lobby led by Cancopy to eliminate all exemptions from the legislation. Sheila Copps, the minister responsible, encouraged this by suggesting to various organizations opposed to the bill that they might have some success in fighting it in committee.

Professor Alan Andrews of Dalhousie University appeared before the Commons committee on behalf of CAUT. He welcomed the tabling of phase II, but noted CAUT wished for some amendments. The most substantive was to include provisions which would allow the use of film and video in the classroom.

CAUT would also like to see the following amendments:

  • the definitions in the bill rewritten to make it crystal clear that benefits granted educational institutions also apply to their academic staff;
  • the section on reviewing modified so it could not be interpreted as requiring reviewers of films or videos to list the names of everyone who worked on the production of such items;
  • the section on the disabled be expanded to deal with the needs of the hearing impaired and those with learning disabilities;
  • criminal sanctions limited to major industrial violations (civil recourse should be the norm for small scale violations);
  • amendments or regulations in regard to parallel importation requiring the timely filling of orders by Canadian rights holders;
  • and a rebate for educational institutions on the proposed tape levy where tape was being used for purposes other than the copying of copyright material.

Overall CAUT said it would have preferred the route taken in the U.S. where it was decided to amplify the fair dealing arrangements, rather than the British model which attempts to list each individual exception.

CAUT and the other members of the alliance urged that the bill be passed quickly with the amendments suggested by the group and that the government get on with phase III which will deal with the information highway.