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The Honourable Tony Clement Minister Of Industry, Science & Technology House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
The Honourable James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this consultation process dealing with copyright reform in Canada.
I am a music instructor in and the chairperson of the Fine Arts Department at Grande Prairie Regional College in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Much of my teaching deals with music history of one sort or another, and the examination of recordings, both audio and video. I also make use of a lot of technology in my teaching; I make podcasts and websites, use recordings in my classrooms, and am constantly figuring out how to use technology to better deliver ideas and content to my students.
This consultation process is important because as an educator and scholar, I and my students need access to copyrighted material. We need to be able to use it to learn about the topics of study, we need it for research, and we need it to be able to explore the materials themselves, whether they are audio recordings, DVDs, or other commercial products that are central in the music industries and environments that we all work in. I need to be able to create work that will have lasting value, without having DRM interfere with the educational study of those materials. I need to not have to needlessly re-create the same materials again and again, because someone thought a time limit on their existence would be useful to copyright holders. For all these reasons and more, copyright is a central concept in my work, and I have substantial concerns that one-sided reforms could make education suffer greatly in comparison to the current situation.
Copyright changes need to ensure that there is balance between supporting creators' control over their works and ability to profit from them, and fostering innovation, discussion, education, parody, purchasers' rights, and more. An American-style "DMCA" copyright law, if brought to Canada, would seem to be almost entirely one sided, supporting only creators. The Canadian fair dealing provision has for years provided people with the ability to reasonably use many copyrighted materials that they have purchased. Fair dealing MUST remain an important part of the Canadian copyright legal situation. DRM and technology-based limitations clearly interfere with fair dealing, and prevent Canadians from making use of materials in ways which are useful to them. If someone purchases a compact disc of music, the record company that released that disk should not be able to control how someone listens to it. Given the pace of change of technology (which is, after all, one of the reasons that copyright reform is currently in front of us), it is CLEAR that material that is locked will become inaccessible as technologies evolve, and as companies go out of business or shut their authorizing servers down. This has already happened. For copyright in Canada to be able to stand the test of time, technological locks need to be very carefully controlled, and not allowed to be used freely just because creators want to lock their creations down.
Copyright extensions do not seem reasonable; creation plus 50 years seems to be a very long time for someone to benefit from their creation. Corporate greed should not be a defining factor in the selection of extensions as part of copyright reform. Copyright extension does NOT foster creativity. The best way for Canada to be able to function in a global digital economy would be for that economy to benefit as many Canadians as possible. This means that the public domain must remain an essential part of our culture and legal system. It means that people should be able to profit from their own creativity, but must not be allowed to interfere with the creativity of those who follow after them. It means that copyright laws must not make criminals of people who have copyrighted materials and seek to use them in reasonable ways, such as time and format shifting, education and examination, and parody. It means that industries should not be able to dictate who MAY have broken a law, through such tools as a 'three strikes law.'
In summary, I hope that copyright reform in Canada will keep in mind that Canadians should be able to reasonably usefair dealingcopyrighted materials in their possession. Personal and educational use must be kept philosophically and legally separate from commercial use of copyrighted materials. If copyright is supposed to protect Canadians (as well as others in the international community), it should also enable us to use our cultural heritage materials in innovative ways; restrictive laws will only harm our collective culture.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to take part in this process.