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by Liza Frulla
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women
David L. Emerson
Minister of Industry
Clarifying Copyright and Educational Use of the Internet
Lately there have been a number of media reports and editorials about new legislation to update the Copyright Act and in particular about the issue of educational access to works on the Internet. They say that Bill C-60 will make it illegal to use Internet material for educational and research purposes.
In fact, Bill C-60 will not address Internet material, although it does contain provisions to enable the use of the Internet for distance education and the digital delivery of inter-library loans. As well, the Government has taken special care to ensure that the exercice of new digital rights for creators will not hamper access to works for educational or other socially important purposes.
The particular issue of educational use of "publicly available" material on the Internet has been carefully studied by the Government, including by a Parliamentary committee, and there have been consultations with representatives on both sides of the debate.
The issue is complex and raises a number of difficult considerations. For example, what material on the Internet should be considered "publicly available" for uncompensated use? Copyright legislation provides that copyright protection arises automatically upon creation of an original work, whether or not the author of the work wishes to exploit the right. Stakeholders who have been consulted, including rights holders and educators, have nevertheless agreed to the principle that "where there is no expectation of payment, there should not be a requirement to pay."
However, no agreement has been reached on a set of criteria to identify "publicly available material." In fact, no other country has specifically addressed the issue of educational use of Internet material. The result is that there are few models for comparison. In the United States, educators may make certain uses of Internet material pursuant to the American "fair use" doctrine.
The Government has long recognized the importance of technology to education. As a result, we have helped ensure that schools have access to the Internet and fostered the creation and dissemination of high-quality digital content. Rather than dealing hastily with this issue or refusing to address these educational concerns, the Government has undertaken to consult more broadly on this issue. We hope to gather new insights that will enable us to address the interests of all Canadians. Good public policy can only emerge from a full, open and constructive dialogue. Consultations on this issue are expected to begin this fall, at the same time as hearings on Bill C-60 get underway in Parliament.
Jean-François Del Torchio
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women
Office of the Honourable David L. Emerson,
Minister of Industry
Chief, Media Relations
Manager, Media Relations
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