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I would like to thank you profusely, first, for allowing Canadians the venue and opportunity to participate in this discussion, as I believe it is a critical one as our country develops policy and law that will affect almost everyone as we hurl deeper into the 21st Century.
For this submission, I would like to speak primarily as an elementary school teacher in Ontario, as that is where most of my copyright concerns stem from. As teachers and educators struggle to prepare students with 21st Century skills, there has never been a more critical time for this copyright discussion to take place. We rely more and more on digital technologies, non-traditional media, the internet, and samples of commercials, music, video, and other media drawn from popular culture.
1. How do Canada's copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
Copyright laws affect me greatly. From photocopying material for classroom use to accessing digital content from websites like Youtube, I find it absolutely critical to provide students with relevant, up to date information. Engaging students is the most important aspect of education, as it lays the foundation for student learning. I strongly feel that Canada's Fair Dealings laws have done a 'pretty good' job of regulating what can and cannot be used in a classroom, but it is time for a more relaxed view for educational purposes. I feel that I should be able to, without cost, show documentaries, and relevant films in a classroom setting for the purpose of educating students. I feel that if I have a copy of a book that the school (or myself personally) have purchased, I should be able to scan this book, and have students be able to access it using text to speech technology (with programs like Kurzweil), as this is an accommodation for many students with reading difficulties that allows them to participate in grade level material. I feel that I should be able to use television commercials to discuss media literacy, question audience, point of view, and bias. I feel that I should be able to use news clips, television sitcoms and pieces of films to discuss current issues such as the environment, and other social issues that loom large on the Canadian and world horizons.
In short, I truly think that to educate tomorrow's leaders, I need full access to all available tools. If we buy a textbook, why must we pay an extra $300+ for a 'digital version'? That hardly seems fair, considering the cost to scan the textbook would be a few hours time. We need to fix copyright laws to better reflect what we want students to be able to access to. The Internet provides an abundance of information (some argue an overabundance) and as educators, we feel a need to help them access relevant content. Help us do this without fear of the 'copyright' police coming to take us away.
2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
To withstand the test of time, copyright laws should be not defined by content. I would hesitate to put specific policies surrounding music, video, print materials, etc. I would try to find a uniform term and make our laws broad enough to combine all forms of property (intellectual included), and specific enough to address the issues at hand. As we have seen, the laws that governed music became less effective as technology allowed music to be digitized, stored, and transferred online. Let's not make the same mistake. Words like 'possession', 'content' 'property', 'ownership', and 'use' seem to be the best approach to this.
3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Currently, US fair use law allow the use of material for parody and satirical use. Canada should include that in their laws for 'fair dealings', as it allows for creation of works that question, comment, and point out flaws in the original work, a very important discussion to have. To foster creativity and innovation, at an elementary school level, we are trying to have students 'create' media. Simple powerpoints, or digital movies, or websites, or blogs, wikis, and the like are all valid means of creation. To create something, though, students need 'stuff' to put into these presentations. Usually those are pictures, video clips, sound bytes, music, and text. The text is usually created by the students (or referenced in the same way as been done for decades), but all of the other aspects need to come from somewhere. If we want future citizens who can be innovative and creative, they need to have access to some 'copyright' materials, for the purpose of learning how to best use them to create new meaning.
4.What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
Any change that would improve the quality and breadth of education would draw competition and investment. Our educational standing and opinion in the world contributes more to our GDP, value, and competitiveness in a global market. But I would also like to state that although this question speaks about competition and investment (viewing the situation through the lens of a 'global competitive market', this issue is just as important if we view the situation through the lens of 'global interconnectedness'. Our copyright laws must allow free and unhindered access to information for educational purposes so that we can teach students how to create, synthesize, evaluate, and critically solve issues. Our copyright laws must also allow free and unhindered access so that we can educate students about Canada's place in the world, what the world is, and how global problems are the concern of every citizen and country on the planet, Canada included (or Canada especially in some cases).
5.What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
Education is the key. Allow full, no holds barred access to educators to material so that they can teach students, and our students will be better served. More prepared for the jobs that they will have in the future, as problem solvers, critical thinkers, and evaluators of media and information, our students will be the envy of every other country.