Bill C-11 given student and educator-friendly amendments
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 5, 2012 15:07
As Bill C-11 goes back to the House of Commons for further debate, a legislative committee has amended the Bill to extend fair-sharing for educational purposes. Though the digital lock provisions are still in place, these amendments will be beneficial to both students and educators alike.
This is being deemed a victory for many Internet advocacy groups, such as Open Media and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).
Bill C-11 is the latest of several attempts at Canadian copyright reform. It is primarily backed by the entertainment industry that is concerned about lost profits due to illegal digital downloading and other forms of piracy.
The legislative committee concluded its review of Bill C-11 on March 13. The committee offered an expanded enabler provision among a few other changes. When the Bill was first introduced, its backers were pushing for more aggressive measures, similar to those of the United States’ Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) to prevent copyright infringement. The committee of eight members have rejected all of those measures, including Web site blocking, iPod taxing, copyright term extension and disclosure of subscriber information. This is contrary to the desires of the entertainment lobby.
Fair-dealing allows for the individual use of copyrighted materials in certain circumstances. Historically, it has been limited to research and private study, but C-11 will expand the framework to include educational uses.
“Creating an explicit fair-dealing exemption for education means that students will have greater certainty when using copyrighted works in the normal course of research,” National Director of CASA, Zachary Dayler.
Bill C-11’s provisions include expansion of the fair-sharing provision, new consumer rights for format shifting, time shifting and backup copies, a provision facilitating user generated content, a new distinction between commercial and non-commercial infringement, as well as a new approach to Internet provider liability.
“Copyright is tough, putting it in legislation. We have iPads today which allow us to do so much. The rights need to be protected, but we don’t want it to stifle innovation,” said Dayler. “We do have to remember that we expect it to be fair, not free.”
However, the bill is facing some opposition from experts primarily related to the digital lock provisions. The legislative commission decided to keep the digital lock fully intact.
“While we are happy to see that the pro-student aspects of C-11 were preserved by the committee, it is a shame that the committee did not approve amendments that would strengthen user rights, including allowing for non-infringing circumvention of digital locks,” said Dayler.
The digital locks are technical restrictions that distributors put on E-books, DVDs and other applications. These locks are often put in place to prevent duplication of a product. In Canada, a person currently has the right to transfer digital information from one source to another, such as music from a CD to their iPod. This process is commonly known as “fair-sharing”.
“With the digital lock provision, any attempt to circumvent a manufacture’s digital locks, would be a violation of the law,” said Law professor of the University of Ottawa, Michael Geist.
CASA plans to advocate plans for the Canadian Students by opposing other clauses within Bill C-11, such as book importation regulations, a tax which is applied to publications that are brought in from other countries.
“Removing the book importation regulation will save Canadian students as much as 30 million dollars,” said Dayler.