I have approval from the university to share the following Open Letter from the President of Athabasca University to all students.  If you are concerned about how Canadian copyright legislation may be revised and potentially restricted through the current review, please make your views known at the government discussion site noted in the letter.  Please respond to the poll as well: http://suzviews.wordpress.com/2009/08/22/polldaddy-poll1903932/

August 2009

Open Letter to All Students,

The Government of Canada has launched a nationwide consultation on copyright modernization, which ends on September 13th. The government is currently preparing new copyright legislation that is anticipated for delivery this fall, which could resemble Bill C-61, which died on the order paper during the last Parliament. If you are interested or concerned about copyright reform please visit the copyright consultation website at http://copyright.econsultation.ca/.

Universities have an interest in protecting copyright as producers of intellectual and creative content and also in fair dealing as researchers and teachers. So, we do support legislation that both protects copyright owners from infringement and protects the rights of educational users. However, any legislation similar to Bill C-61 will have profound negative effects on researchers and educators as well as the general public. There were five substantive issues contained in Bill C-61, which were of concern; noncircumvention measures, format shifting, contractual over rise of fair dealing, statutory damages, and destruction of content. We have provided a briefing note on these five issues that you could raise.

It will place Canada at a disadvantage internationally and will even more significantly marginalize e-learning and distance education. E-learning institutions now reach over 20 million learners per year with Canada as a recognized world leader in telecommunications and learning. This legislation could well end our ability to contribute to building Canadian and overseas learning communities. Countries with wiser copyright regimes that promote educational use will catapult ahead of Canada. No longer will we be internationally competitive because of the restrictions contained in the legislation. We need to seek balance between the protection of rights, the rights of learners, and our international competitiveness in distance and e-learning.

I would like to request that you contact Hon. Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, Hon. James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage, and your Member of Parliament to raise your concern about this potential legislation. If you are not aware of your Member of Parliament and require their address, you can obtain this information on the Elections Canada website http://www.elections.ca or at http://www.parl.gc.ca. A list of contacts and their addresses (pdf) is available if you choose to raise your concerns further.

Please inform us by email (copyrightlobby@athabascau.ca) of any correspondence you send to the federal government.

Thank you.


Frits Pannekoek, PhD
Athabasca University

Related Documents: Copyright Legislation Overview (pdf)