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CLA Steps Up on Copyright

As a past president of the Canadian Library Association, I laud the current CLA efforts to balance the copyright discussion in Canada. Michael Geist University of Ottawa prof and columnist with the Globe and Mail, Howard Knof at Excess Copyright blog and Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing have been very articulate about the current government’s plans to make so many accepted copy ‘rights’ unlawful. Their founding and/or promotion of Facebook group that went national and BIG derailed, at least temporarily, the government’s plans. Geist made a Facebook page on Dec. 1 as a focal point for the opinions and efforts of Canadians who were concerned about the direction of copyright law. As of yesterday, there are 32,102 members of Fair Copyright in Canada growing at more than 1,500 names every day. That’s one way to scare politicians who try to pass legislation quickly that you can’t legally upload your own bought CD’s to your iPod. Then again, you can never be too careful over what legislatures do over holidays when they think no one is paying attention.
In comes the power of the web! CLA has played a big role in this discussion for years and this puts CLA’s efforts into the forefront – with our users. Balance in copyright is essential.
21 Million Library Users Concerned About Copyright
OTTAWA, Dec. 21 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, the Canadian Library Association
(CLA) outlined the concerns of over 21 million library users and member
librarians about pending copyright legislation.
“Our members are hearing from a growing chorus of public library users
that copyright laws must reflect the public interest,” commented Don Butcher,
CLA’s Executive Director. “Whether it is through library blogs, Facebook
groups, or at the library front desks, we are getting the message that
Canadians want a fair and balanced copyright approach.”
As a result of this public debate and feedback, CLA is making public its
core issues that it wants to see in any new copyright legislation.
“As the voice of library users and professionals, we have an obligation
to let the Government know that copyright issues are striking a cord with
average Canadians and that this is an issue that will impact any election,”
added Butcher.
“Just one simple Facebook group on copyright gained 30,000 members in a
few short weeks with another Canadian joining the group every 30 seconds.
There have been public rallies in Calgary and Toronto. The Government needs to
listen to average Canadians,” concluded Butcher.
The most important change in copyright in recent years both for libraries
and for all Canadians has been the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada judgment in
CCH Canada Ltd. v. The Law Society of Upper Canada. Should the Government
introduce amendments to the Copyright Act, any change must reflect the broad
interpretation of fair dealing outlined in this judgment and ensure that
users’ rights are well-protected.
The library community’s key concerns were outlined in a letter to the
Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage released to the
public today. These concerns include:
– Any new copyright legislation must be carefully crafted so that it
punishes copyright-infringing behaviour but does not ban devices that
might be used to circumvent technological prevention measures.
“Technological measures can be used to invade privacy and prevent
Canadians from invoking their rights,” Butcher said.
“The legislation must protect Canadians who are merely upholding their
– The Government needs to recognize that government documents and
government data belong to all Canadians and that all Canadians should
have liberal access to these materials.
“Current Crown copyright rules can mean Canadians pay multiple times
for the same information,” Butcher said. “The increased costs are
barriers to learning.”
– Persons with perceptual disabilities must have the same right to access
copyrighted materials as all Canadians have. This right should apply
regardless of format in order to accommodate their particular needs.
Legislation is required to give persons with perceptual disabilities
access equity with others.
“Digital information is extraordinarily useful in overcoming physical,
learning and perceptual disabilities,” Butcher said. “This is a real
opportunity to level the playing field.”
– Libraries oppose legislation that makes the same mistakes as the
American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. American law makes no
differentiation in penalty between a counterfeiter circumventing
technical protection measures for illegal profit and an individual
circumventing technical protection measures to make a single copy.
“Even one of the architects of the DMCA has admitted it is flawed
legislation,” said Butcher. “Let’s not make the same mistakes.”
The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is Canada’s largest national and
broad-based library association, representing the interests of public,
academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library
workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of
Canadians through information and literacy.
CLA represents the interests of approximately 57,000 library staff and
thousands of libraries of all kinds across Canada on a range of public policy
issues; however, none is more critical than copyright. Libraries and
librarians speak on behalf of all users: millions of students, educators,
scholars, researchers, lifelong learners, special library users, recreational
readers, from children to seniors.
For further information: Catherine Fortin LeFaivre, CLA Public Affairs,
(613) 233-8906,

Posted on: December 21, 2007, 6:00 pm Category: Uncategorized

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