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I would like to request an amendment to the Canadian Copyright Act consisting of a technologically neutral access right to all archival holdings which would permit archives to make their holdings accessible to the public using digital technology, including the Internet.
Archivists are 'the keeper of records' for our country and our key functions include acquiring, preserving, and making archival records available to all Canadian citizens for both current and future generations. With the current copyright legislation, we are very limited with the type of material we are permitted to make assessable on-line. For instance, many scrapbooks such as the Tweedsmuir History Scrapbooks cannot be digitized or made available by other technological reproduction means due to potential copyright infringement. Women Institutes across the country began making scrapbooks during the 1930's as a way of preserving their local histories. These scrapbooks were called the Tweedsmuir Village Histories, after Lady Tweedsmuir, and are still being maintained by many communities today. They contain photographs taken by members of the local women's institutes, histories written by local members of founding families, accomplishments of the women institutes, local happenings of the time, and various newspaper clippings involving community news. Researchers who physically visit the archives are permitted to view the scrapbooks; however, they cannot view them on-line. Many researchers do not even know these records exist because they are only available at the archives building. School children, historians, genealogists, or various other researchers who are interested in seeing these histories and are unable to travel due to disability, illness, lack of funds, or for various other reasons are not able to learn from such important records. Historians attempting to research all the Tweedsmuir Village Histories across Canada would have to physically visit each local archives in every province just to be able to compare the regional differences.
Digitizing archival holdings would greatly help make Canadian history accessible for Canadians and so I request an archives exemption clause be added to the Copyright Act, allowing Canadians to know what their country's history truly is.