June 13, 2008 17:27 ET

Proposed Copyright Law Amendments: Some Very Good Changes But Some Cause for Concern

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 13, 2008) - The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada supports proposed amendments to copyright law, tabled yesterday in the House of Commons, regarding educational use of Internet materials and the rules for Internet Service Providers, but is very concerned about the prohibition against circumventing Technological Measures and some of the continuing provisions on statutory damages.

"We are very pleased that the bill contains an exception for educational use of Internet materials and a 'notice and notice' regime for Internet service providers, but we do have serious concerns about the implications for higher education institutions of the provisions dealing with circumvention of technological measures and with statutory damages," said Claire Morris, president and CEO of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The proposed amendments to Canada's copyright law are aimed primarily at clarifying use of copyrighted work in digital form. Although media attention has been focused on its effects on downloading movies and music, the new legislation has important implications for all educational institutions.

"Professors and students at Canadian universities are both creators and users of copyright works, so Canadian universities recognize the importance of balance between the desire of creators to receive fair remuneration for the use of their works and the public interest in being able to use information for purposes such as research and education," said Ms Morris. "The bill attempts to strike a balance but, in relation to higher education, we will be recommending amendments in a couple of areas to ensure appropriate balance."


- AUCC is very pleased that a new education exception in Bill C-61 will permit the educational use of publicly available Internet materials. Allowing students and teachers to use these resources in teaching and learning remains a key to maintaining an internationally competitive education system in Canada. We believe that Bill C-61 gives students, teachers and educational institutions the assurance they need that common teaching and learning activities that involve the use of publicly available Internet materials will not infringe copyright.

- AUCC strongly supports the approach taken in Bill C-61 to clarify the rules regarding copyright liability for Internet Service Providers, including universities. ISPs will continue to be exempt from copyright liability when they provide Internet access, cache materials for network efficiency or host websites for subscribers. In addition, the bill proposes a fair and balanced approach to dealing with the situation where an ISP receives notice from a rights holder that one of its subscribers could be hosting or sharing infringing material. The ISP will be required to forward the notice to the subscriber and keep a record of relevant information. This reflects the existing industry practice of ISPs in Canada, a practice that has served both rights holders and ISPs well.


- AUCC is very concerned with the bill's proposed strict prohibition against the circumvention of Technological Measures used by copyright owners to protect their works in digital format. Circumvention of Technological Measures would be permitted for only a few specific purposes, but these do not include the existing fair dealing provision and educational and library exceptions already in the Copyright Act. In addition, Bill C-61 would ban the provision, marketing or importation of devices, and the provision of services that enable circumvention of TMs. In practice, this means that a visually impaired student could not actually unlock the digital protections because the technology would not be available to do so. Taken together, the new measures go much farther than is required by the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization treaties and transform a measure designed for protection into a means of impeding legitimate uses.

- AUCC also remains concerned that the statutory damages regime in the Copyright Act, created in 1997 and left untouched in the proposed amendments, imposes a chill on the use of fair dealing and has the effect of discouraging university and library staff from using modern technologies to distribute scholarly and scientific research materials. AUCC had recommended that statutory damages not apply to individuals who have reasonable grounds to believe their copying is fair dealing.

AUCC will be studying Bill C-61 in more detail and looks forward to expressing its views on the proposed legislation during hearings of the House of Commons Industry Committee. In the meantime, we will draw to the government's attention the areas of the bill which we feel require amendment to ensure appropriate balance in the legislation.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is the voice of Canada's universities. It represents 92 Canadian public and private not-for profit universities and university-degree level colleges.

Contact Information

  • Lyse Huot
    Publications and Communications
    613-563-3961 ext. 229