June 2, 2010

Copyright bill threatens students’ access to copyrighted works

OTTAWA–If adopted in its current form, legislation tabled today to amend the Copyright Act will undermine the ability of students to access and make use of copyrighted works.

“When the government asked Canadians what copyright law they wanted, an overwhelming majority rejected the ‘made in the USA’ approach to digital locks found in this bill,” said Dave Molenhuis, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Despite a welcome expansion of fair dealing rights, these new protections for digital locks will seriously undermine the ability of students, teachers, and citizens to access and make use of copyrighted works.”
Anti-circumvention provisions found in the bill would make it illegal to bypass digital locks that are used to control how digital works are used. These provisions effectively override the rights of Canadian users and creators, as bypassing these digital locks remains illegal, regardless of whether accessing and/or using the work is legal or not. While the bill proposes an expansion of fair dealing–the right to good faith and limited use of copyrighted works in certain circumstances–the anti-circumvention provisions strip away any rights granted to users through the Copyright Act, granting corporate copyright owners absolute control over how their works are accessed and used.

“This bill will make it even more difficult for students and teachers to access and use copyrighted materials for teaching and learning,” added Molenhuis. “The government has indicated a willingness to compromise. Step one is listening to Canadians and abandoning blanket protections for digital locks.”

Access is of particular importance to members of the education sector who both use and create copyrighted materials on a day-to-day basis. Many in the educational community have raised concerns that overly restrictive regulations will limit how students and teachers can use copyrighted materials and pave the way to higher access fees paid by post-secondary institutions and, ultimately, students.

The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organisation, uniting more that one-half million students in all ten provinces. The Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organisations have represented students in Canada since 1927.