TPP Copyright Extension Would Keep Some of Canada's Top Authors Out of Public Domain For Decades
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Monday January 09, 2012
Last week I posted
on the government's
consultation on joining the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations
and its potential effect on Canada's public domain. According to a leaked draft
of the proposed intellectual property chapter, the TPP would require
countries (such as Canada, New Zealand, and Japan - all current or
potential TPP members) that meet the international copyright term
standard of life of the author plus 50 years to add an additional 20
years to the term of protection. The extension in the term of copyright
would mean no new works would enter the public domain in those
countries until at least 2033 (assuming an agreement takes effect in
While the change would obviously delay all works slated to enter into
the public domain by 20 years, it is worth noting the many important
authors who would be immediately affected since their works are
scheduled to become public domain in the 2013 - 2033 period. I'll
identify some of the non-Canadian authors in a future post (the list
includes Robert Frost, Aldous Huxley, CS Lewis, TS Eliot, John
Steinbeck, JRR Tolkein, and Ayn Rand), but the impact on Canadian
culture and history is worthy of particular attention.
The list of Canadian authors whose work would be blocked from entering
into the public domain includes:
This list is obviously a tiny fraction of the authors whose works would
be prevented from entering the public domain for decades under the TPP
plan. Given the potential to make those works more readily accessible
to new generations once they enter the public domain, extending the
term of copyright as potentially required by the TPP would have a
dramatic negative effect on access to Canadian literature and history.
Looking ahead, the likes of Margaret Laurence and Robertson Davies
would be similarly delayed for 20 years.
- Gabrielle Roy,
considered one of the most influential Canadian authors in history. Her
book The Tin Flute won multiple awards and laid the foundation for the
Quiet Revolution in Quebec in the 1960s.
widely regarded as one of Canada's most influential historians, with a
major two volume biography on Sir John A. MacDonald that both won
Governor General's awards.
McLuhan, one of the world's leading media theorists.
who twice won Governor General's awards and who became the first
Canadian to have a novel appear on top of the New York Times best
- Hubert Aquin,
a leading Quebec author, whose novel Next Episode, is regarded as a
classic of Canadian literature.
- Ethel Wilson,
regarded as one of the leading authors from B.C. The province's top
fiction award is named after her.
- E.J. Pratt,
regarded as Canada's foremost poet of the first half of the 20th
Wood, an award winning science fiction author, who received three
Bambrick, who won the Governor General's Award for fiction in 1946.
Pickard Bell, one of Nova Scotia's leading historians.
Costain, who was a best selling author of historical novels.
Allen, an award winning journalist, who won wrote several books on
- Hugh Garner,
who won a Governor General's award for short stories in 1963.
Guèvremont, who won a Governor General's award for fiction
- A.M. Klein,
one of Canada's best known poets and Governor General award winner.
Now is the opportunity to help preserve the public domain in Canada by
speaking out against TPP copyright provisions that would extend the
term of copyright or impose even stricter digital lock rules. The
consultation is open until February 14, 2012. All it takes a single email
with your name, address, and comments on the issue. The email can be
sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, submissions
can be sent by fax (613-944-3489) or mail (Trade Negotiations
Consultations (TPP), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada,
Trade Policy and Negotiations Division II (TPW), Lester B. Pearson
Building, 125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2).
Monday January 09, 2012