Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Proposed changes to Canadian Copyright

A new Copyright Reform bill was introduced in the Canadian Parliament yesterday. The bill updates provisions related to digital rights management, P2P file sharing, and attempts to circumvent copyright protections. In one news article posted today, I thought it was interesting that Canada's Industry Minister couched this as a "Made in Canada" bill and not a replication of US copyright efforts. I also thought the fine structure was interesting -- minimal penalties for those downloading content illegally, and more hefty fines for those who post or distribute content illegally.

Another news article on the topic points to some serious concerns about the bill. As the piece notes:
Casting aside the concerns of major business, education, and consumer groups, the bill seeks to dramatically tilt Canadian law toward greater enforcement and restrictions on the use of digital content, leading Liberal industry critic Scott Brison to warn that it could result in a "police state."

The last comparison seems a bit dramatic to me, but reading these two and a few other pieces in the last hour does suggest that the emphasis of the bill is more on enforcement and DRM, then on promoting perspectives on intellectual property (IP) and copyright that are more in sync with protecting and balancing the rights of all stakeholders. It appears Canada is moving more toward the US model.

What would it take in Canada (and perhaps the states) to bring together the various stakeholders in one room to craft a policy that protects IP rights, while also protecting other interests? I expect that the IP and DRM issues around digital content are only going to become more varied and complex in the coming decade. Such legislation seems to protect some interests and not others, and could serve to slow down technological and commercial progress. Is there a better way?

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