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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2002

Copyright Talks Conclude

The federal government's copyright consultations rolled into Ottawa April 11 for an all-day session on proposed legislation to amend the Copyright Act. The forum, which attracted more than 100 individuals and groups, was part of a series of cross-Canada meetings organized by the federal departments of Industry and Heritage. Prompted by an array of controversial proposals, the consultation provided an opportunity for Canada's educational and library communities, among others, to pointedly put their views to departmental officials.

"This is all about access to information, access to knowledge" said Ken Field, chair of CAUT's intellectual property working group. "There is enormous corporate pressure to gut the public domain, to stamp out the information commons, to put a price tag on every fact in existence. We can't let that happen."

Among proposals being floated by the government is a plan to make it illegal to decode encrypted digital information, even when the person or institution accessing the work is legally entitled to the material for archival preservation or fair dealing.

According to Field, the government's plan to proceed rapidly with amendments has run into unexpected trouble. "In the past the response from the general public on copyright issues has been basically nonexistent. This time around there are more than 500 written submissions to date, the vast majority of them hostile to the departments' corporate-friendly proposals. It's unprecedented."

The final consultation meeting was held April 29 in Edmonton. The departments are now expected to issue a report on the submissions they have received. "After the earful they got from Canadians, it would be very disturbing if they continue to proceed down the same path they've been traveling," Field said.

CAUT's submission on copyright reform is available online at issues/copyright/.