Monday, May 10, 2010

Canada's Digital Economy Consultation: preliminary thoughts

Tony Clement has opened up a consultation on Canada's Digital Economy - note that comments are due July 9th.

Preliminary thoughts:

Canada's Digital Economy strategy should reflect Canadian values, of universal rights to access and participation. Every Canadian, whether urban, rural, and including every First Nations community, should be able to participate in the digital economy. This means ubiquitous broadband access, and equity in access to education from kindergarten to post-secondary.

There is some welcome, but very weak support for open access in this report. This would be a good time for Canada to get up to speed on open access developments in other countries, notably the UK where all research councils require open access to the research that they fund, and the US Federal Research Public Access Act which is in progress.

As reported earlier on IJPE, the U.S. Communication and Computer Industries have recently released a report indicating the importance of industries relying on fair use. The Consultation document for Canada's Digital Economy strategy mentions that ICT accounts for 5% of GDP, and is rapidly growing, in comparison with the copyright-based industries that account for 3.8% GDP. This adds economic weight to fairness arguments for fair use / fair dealing. If we want the economy to flourish, we need LESS IP, not MORE. This would be a good time for leadership in demanding lowering copyright terms (perhaps to 14 years), and eliminating Crown copyright.

Creativity is important both to the economy, as mentioned in this report, and more importantly, to society. Welcome academic support for science is mentioned in this report; however, if the concern is with supporting the development of creativity, isn't the answer strong educational support for the arts and humanities, from kindergarten to post-secondary? Shouldn't we be supporting arts and culture in Canadian communities, so that they will be places where creative people want to live - and anyone would want to visit?