Copyright in Education

Via Mark Oehlert is this article from the Toronto Star by Michael Geist on copyright law in Canada.

The challenge facing Canada’s parliamentarians and copyright policy makers is they must find a way to reconcile these opposing visions [Internet as distribution channel versus Internet as creation medium]. The Supreme Court of Canada has indicated that a balanced approach is to be the guiding objective in that regard, noting in one recent case that “excessive control by holders of copyrights and other forms of intellectual property may unduly limit the ability of the public domain to incorporate and embellish creative innovation in the long-term interests of society as a whole, or create practical obstacles to proper utilization.

According to Geist, our elected representatives in the Bulte committee (part of the Standing Committe on Canadian Heritage), have not taken the time and effort to arrive at a unique Canadian solution for copyright in the education sector, but “… rather than working toward a balanced and limited Internet exception for education, the Bulte committee simply considered the competing proposals presented by educational groups and rights holder groups and recommended the latter proposal.”

The section of Bulte’s report on technology-enhanced learning is interesting. Instead of recommending to “Amend the Copyright Act to clearly state that the “fair dealing” defence in section 29 applies to education and teaching purposes, in addition to research or private study, review or news reporting”, the committee recommended:

… that the Government of Canada put in place a regime of extended collective licensing to ensure that educational institutions’ use of information and communications technologies to deliver copyright protected works can be more efficiently licensed. Such a licensing regime must recognize that the collective should not apply a fee to publicly available material (as defined in Recommendation 5 of this report).

More efficient licensing is not going to help us provide the access to quality online education that we need. It will only increase the costs of development for educational institutions. But the federal government is not responsible for education; the provinces are. These extra costs will be foisted on the Provincial departments of education and our universities.

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