Meera Nair

World Fair Use Day

In Posts on January 12, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Sponsored by Public Knowledge, today marks an effort to educate people of the importance of the doctrine of Fair Use. (I wish I was in Washington DC for the gathering!)

Like many other Commonwealth jurisdictions, Canada’s copyright system operates with Fair Dealing. Like Fair Use, Fair Dealing permits unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted material for some good-faith productive purposes. As I mentioned a few months ago, fair dealing has more credence in reconciling the mutual needs amongst creators. Yet, curiously so, Fair Dealing continues to be characterized as a user’s right. With the greatest respect to our Supreme Court Justices, and many legal scholars and professional lawyers, I remain unconvinced. Fair dealing is better described as a creator’s right

Fair dealing should be seen as the modest measure that ensures the system purporting to encourage creative effort, and protect the interests of creative individuals, does not thwart creativity itself. This right of access is reconciled with an accompanying duty of reciprocation to the creative community at large. As creators have a duty to recognize past creators’ efforts, and not to abuse their right of access, so creators have a duty to share their work as necessary to foster future creators’ efforts. More succinctly, fair dealing mandates fair duty for all parties concerned.

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