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Submission from Paul Pival received on August 22, 2001 1:56 PM via e-mail

Subject: Copyright Reform

August 22, 2001

Comments - Government of Canada Copyright Reform
C/o Intellectual Property Policy Directorate
Industry Canada
235 Queen Street
5th Floor West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H5

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing in support of changes to the current Canadian Copyright Act, as described in A Framework for Copyright Reform. I work as a librarian in an academic institution, but do not necessarily represent that institution. My job is to offer library support to students enrolled in distance education courses.

One of my greatest barriers is the timely delivery of requested journal articles to distance students located in remote parts of the country, or Canadian citizens living abroad. If these students were on campus, they could make a photocopy of a needed article for their personal educational use. Current copyright law allows me to make a copy on their behalf, at their request, and mail them a hard copy, but many students find this an unacceptably slow process. With deadlines looming, not a week goes by that I don’t get a request to scan the requested article and email it or post it to a website for speedy access.

I understand the concerns of publishers and copyright holders when it comes to the electronic distribution of information. I would argue that no revenue would be lost by allowing the transmission of scanned articles for educational purposes since these students will receive a paper copy anyway; they’re not going to buy an article regardless. I also posit that there will be no re-transmission of these articles after receipt by the student. Libraries would still abide by copyright law and destroy any copies made at the library end, and there would be no reason for a student to forward a scanned article on their topic of study to any other person. In my experience most students would likely print the article anyway and discard the electronic copy – they would just prefer timely delivery. There are mechanisms in place for allowing documents to be posted to secure password-protected websites, allowing access only for the student who has requested the article, and for the elimination of that file after a certain time has passed. (see for example Prospero at http://bones.med.ohio-state.edu/prospero/)

Technology and student expectations currently exist. Technology-enhanced learning is a growing concern, and is being used by nearly all institutions of higher learning in Canada. Allowing libraries to transmit scanned copies of requested articles directly to students would both ensure net gains for Canadians, and will maintain the responsiveness of the Copyright Act to technological innovation. I urge you to allow an educational exception for the digital transmission of scholarly works to students enrolled in distance courses. Thank you.


Paul R. Pival

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