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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Canada votes ... in a manner of speaking

As was noted here in August, Canadians were offered a chance to express their wishes for the next version of the Copyright Act of Canada. The volume of submissions (estimated to be over 8,000) may have caught the Federal Government off guard; the consultation period is now closed, but many submissions have not yet been posted.

My favorite might well be the remarks of David Allsebrook, submitted August 10, who observed that the protection of copyright should require adherence to the prevailing legal limitations of copyright - those who deny the public legitimate access to copyrighted materials through "restrictive license terms, technical protection means, or abuse through collective administration," should have the their entire protection revoked!

I am less enthusiastic about the request from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, for a special exception so that students and faculty may utilize publicly available works from the Internet (as discussed in the Gatineau roundtable of July 29). To give the Association the benefit of the doubt, I must say that Canadian education operates under tightly constrained and cumbersome educational exceptions to copyright. That said, it's a little hard to overlook the fact that this request is being made in the name of works that are "publicly available." The Association is conceding infringement where none has happened, which raises concerns of liability to all those who will not be sheltered within an educational institution.

Moreover, once published, all material is available for the good-faith productive uses that are specified under fair dealing (private study, research, criticism, review, and news reporting) provided that the conditions of fair dealing are met (citation, appropriateness of use, etc.) Unlike fair use, fair dealing is this closed set of activities. However, in 2004, a unanimous Canadian Supreme Court described fair dealing as an integral part of copyright law, stated that it should be interpreted liberally, and offered considerable guidance regarding how to use fair dealing.

One advocate of the Association's proposal informed me that other jurisdictions are considering similar schemes. But, there was no mention of which jurisdictions. If anyone has information to share, please do.

More information on the Association's proposal can be found in my submission.


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