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Library World Reactions to House of Commons Report on Statutory Review of the Copyright Act

23 Jun 2019 6:05 PM | Michel-Adrien Sheppard (Administrator)

Earlier this month, the House of Commons Standing Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology published its report on the Statutory Review of the Copyright Act:

"Section 92 of the Copyright Act (the Act) provides that the Act must be reviewed every five years by a parliamentary committee. On 13 December 2017, the House of Commons designated its Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (the Committee) to conduct the review. The Committee held 52 meetings, heard 263 witnesses, collected 192 briefs, and received more than 6,000 emails and other correspondence (...)

"The fruit of over ten meetings of deliberations, this Committee’s report covers a broad range of topics. They include the protection of traditional and cultural expressions, term extension, computer-generated works, artist’s resale rights, fair dealing, safe harbour provisions, perceptual disability provisions, online piracy, proceedings before the Copyright Board of Canada, and the statutory review process itself. After reporting on a few legal developments of the last seven years, the report addresses these topics in turn under six sections: Statutory Review, Indigenous Matters, Rights, Exceptions, Enforcement, and the Collective Administration of Rights."

"The report makes 36 recommendations. They include recommendations aiming at reducing the opaqueness of Canadian copyright law, notably by gathering authoritative information on its impact on Canadian creators and creative industries, increasing the transparency of the collective administration of rights, and simplifying the Act. The Committee recommends improving the bargaining power of Canadian creators by granting them a termination right while mitigating the impact of such a right on the commercial exploitation of copyright. It also proposes to sensibly update enforcement mechanisms, starting with statutory damages for rights-holders and collective societies. The recommendations address site-blocking proposals and their potential impact on the form and function of Internet, and assert that online service providers such as Google and Facebook must fully comply with the Act to the benefit of both rights-holders and users. The report also proposes to move forward to protect traditional and cultural expressions, vitally informed by the testimony of Indigenous witnesses."

On June 11, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) issued a statement on the report that applauds the Committee's work for its "reasoned analysis and balanced conclusions":

"The report includes 36 recommendations, many of which reflect the positions put forward by CARL and our member institutions in their briefs and appearances before Committee. Notable highlights for the research library community include: 
  • Amending the fair dealing exception so that allowable purposes are illustrative rather than exhaustive (...);
  • Applying open licences to Canadian Government works (...);
  • Facilitating the use of a work or other subject matter for the purpose of informational analysis (i.e. text and data mining) (...)
  • Opposing the extension of copyright as required as part of the USMCA but, in the event that it is ratified by all parties, recommending both a registration system and a reversion right to counteract some of the disadvantages of term extension (...);
  • Engaging in comprehensive consultations with 'Indigenous groups, experts and others on the protection of traditional arts and cultural expressions in the context of Reconciliation' (...);
  • Prioritizing means for ensuring that works are made available in accessible formats to benefit persons with a perceptual disability (...)"

On June 14, the Canadian Federation of Libraries Associations was generally positive about the report, with some cautionary words:

"With regards to fair dealing, CFLA-FCAB appreciates the following: 

  • The recommendation to make the list of fair dealing purposes illustrative rather than exhaustive (Rec. 18).
    The recognition there is insufficient evidence linking the decline in publishers’ revenue to the addition of education for fair dealing.
    The recommendation to extend the timeline for the review of educational fair dealing, (Rec. 17); however, CFLA-FCAB believes it will take more than three years to obtain new and authoritative information and to observe the effects of new legal developments."

    "About Indigenous Knowledge, CFLA-FCAB:
• Applauds the emphasis on Indigenous Knowledge and the requirement for recognition and protection in Canadian law, both within the Copyright Act and beyond (Rec. 5).
• Is concerned that Rec. 5 introduces new terms (“traditional arts and cultural expressions”) rather than the terms Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE) that are defined and understood in the global context.
• Recommends a firm commitment to timelines and adequate resources for the recommended consultation with Indigenous groups, experts and stakeholders.
• CFLA-FCAB would have preferred the recommendation to first recognize and affirm Indigenous ownership over their own knowledge, and subsequently recommend consultation, including support for the development and implementation of protocols to share and protect Indigenous Knowledge."

 The Librarianship.ca website has compiled a comparison of GLAM Sector Recommendations vs Committee Recommendations. GLAM stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

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