Saturday, June 14, 2008

Please stand against the Canadian DMCA!

Following is my letter to Joyce Murray, MP, Vancouver Quadra, with copies to Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry, Josée Verner, and Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, with respect to the recently introduced Bill C-61, also known as "the Canadian DMCA". For more info and action steps, please see Michael Geist. The Canadian Library Association opposed Bill C-61.

As a constituent, prolific author and creator, and professional librarian with expertise in the area of information policy, I am very concerned about Bill C-61 and the lack of public consultation on this important policy matter, and request your most vigorous opposition to the Bill.

Copyright law should balance the rights of creators and consumers, and reflect the public interest, not just the commercial marketplace.

Contemporary copyright law should reflect contemporary society, a society where the circle of creators is expanding to include everyone, and where free sharing of knowledge is rapidly becoming a norm, as exemplified by such phenomena as Wikipedia, the popular flickr, the blogosphere, and in academia and education, the growing trends towards open access and open education.

Canadian copyright reform should reflect this trend toward sharing which favors the growth of democracy, culture, and education. For example, it would be timely to eliminate Crown copyright in favor of public domain for government documents.

Our schools should not need an exemption to provide copies of work made freely available over the internet. This (free sharing) should be the default for all works made available in this manner, unless the copyright owner has taken measures to clearly indicate that the work is not free for sharing.

The technological protection measures provisions render all the otherwise beneficial aspects of the bill meaningless. It should not be illegal to circumvent technological protection measures that prevent legal use. Indeed, it should be illegal to implement technological protection measures to prevent legal use.

Democracy requires public consultation. The WIPO treaty should first be introduced and debated in parliament before any attempt is made to draft a bill to implement its provisions. The public should be invited to participate in discussion before a bill of this nature is even drafted. Bill C-61 should be immediately withdrawn in favour of a public consultation on copyright.

It is good that the rights of libraries to send interlibrary loans directly to patrons via electronic means is recognized. When a library does send an interlibrary loan to a patron, it is reasonable to expect that the item will be for that individual's use only.

However, it is not reasonable to demand that the item be printed by the individual within 5 days. This is not in step with current reality, where many are deliberately not printing information for environmental reasons; it also discriminates against anyone without ready access to a printer. This provision also discriminates against smaller and poorer libraries, that will not have the means to purchase technologies to enforce this provision.


Heather Morrison
The Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics