We can expect to hear those objections fleshed out even more this afternoon, as the committee hears from Roanie Levy, General Counsel, and Director of Policy and External Affairs for Access Copyright, the copyright licencing collective that is the direct target of a great deal of the vicious anti-copyright campaigning of the last few years.
Access Copyright represents thousands of Canadian writers and their publishers in negotiations for licence arrangements with governments, industry and the educational sector. They have recently succeeded in setting a new, reasonable tariff for K-12 schools in Canada, which allows for confident and affordable access to content for our K-12 sector. They are in the middle of negotiating for a similar tariff with the Copyright Board of Canada for the post-secondary sector.
As noted here before, prominent consumer advocate, Michael Geist, and a number of other free-culture theorists have been openly campaigning to have Canada's universities walk away not only from these negotiations but from the very idea of collective copyright licencing altogether. While Geist makes a lot of distracting arm movements about alternate licencing arrangements and open-access materials, it's clear from the statements of key stakeholders that many in the educational sector would interpret the educational fair dealing category as an invitation to avoid collective licencing fees for post-secondary classroom use.
The National Post published an excellent article on this topic over the weekend. You can see the full article here, but here are some key quotes:
"Proponents of the education clause say the change will ensure that teachers, students and educational institutions will not have to worry about breaking the law in classroom settings as technology paves the way for increasingly collaborative and content-sharing exercises.
Critics -- authors, creators and publishers like Mr. Nordal-- argue the term "education" is too broad and could lead to widespread copying of textbooks, novels, study guides and anything else that could remotely be justified as learning materials."
"The debate is helping to pit two groups of unlikely opponents -- writers and students -- against each other, said Alan Cumyn, a Giller-prize nominated author and chair of the Writer's Union of Canada.
"Really there is no need to bring in this education exception, unless you want to save money for the education sector in the short run," he said. "Where is that money coming from? It's coming from writers and publishers.
"We're not saying to computer makers that a certain percentage of computers must go free to school boards. We're not saying teachers should take a cut in their salaries. So why stop paying for intellectual property?"
Testifying in the same session with Ms. Levy are:
Brian Isaac, Chair of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network;
Annie Morin, Chair of the Canadian Private Copying Collective, and CPCC representative artist, Sophie Milman;
Ysolde Gendreau, President of Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale (ALAI Canada); and
Glen Bloom, Chair of the Copyright Legislation Committee (Technical), from the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada
As with the hearings last week, you can watch the testimony live online at the Parliamentary website beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST.