My letter to the Ministers and my submission…
September 4, 2009
Honourable James Moore
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Industry
House of Commons
Re: Submission for Copyright Consultation
Dear Ministers Clement and Moore,
Thank you for the opportunity to convey input to the copyright consultation process. As evidenced by the volume of submissions, Canadians are eager to engage with the task of designing a copyright law that mediates between the challenges and opportunities of digital technology coupled with world-wide networks of circulation. However, given the polarity of opinion on this subject, responding to Canadian input will not be easy. One way forward is to consider, not only the content of opinion, but the line of thought that underwrites each remark or submission. The unspoken debate addresses the construction of copyright itself.
Many Canadians have unconsciously voiced a salient element of our current law, that copyright is a limited right. This needs to be consciously voiced now. Copyright is not, and has never been, a grant of absolute control. However, technology combined with licensing offers the possibility of such control. To succumb to that temptation means changing a structure of cultural policy that has been in place since its inception in 1710. Is Canada prepared for the consequences of such a change? Do we even know what the consequences could be?
To say the least, caution is advisable. I hope you will both be guided by a view often expressed at the roundtable discussions, the townhall meetings, and the submissions, namely, the importance of fair dealing. Fair dealing upholds the limitation upon a copyright holder’s reach. It is designed to enhance individual creativity through learning, teaching, and research – the ingredients necessary for innovation to thrive in Canada.
The challenge, and benefit, of fair dealing is that its legitimacy is not granted by the copyright holder, but is achieved through the actions of those wishing to use the copyrighted material. This places added responsibility upon individuals, which could be fostered through our educational and library institutions. Doing so would place Canadian creators on strong footing; it is in the space outside of a copyright holder’s reach that critical thought can flourish and enable new developments in both technological form and creative content. Something Canada cannot afford to ignore in the much-touted knowledge economy of the day.
Please find below my submission towards amending the Copyright Act. For your convenience, I have also attached this document as a pdf file.
These remarks are my own, and not the opinion of any institution I work with. I write this based on my experiences as a student, small business owner, researcher, educator, and parent.
Dr. Meera Nair
Burnaby, British Columbia