Broadview Press, an independent Canadian publisher with hundreds of books in print, has called on the government to ensure that there is no extension from the current term of life of the author plus 50 years. I previously noted the Broadview Press submission in a post on the tiny impact of reduced royalties from Access Copyright. The submission also focuses on copyright term:
Another vitally important copyright issue that has been on the table in recent TTP and NAFTA trade negotiations is the international pressure Canada is faced with to increase the length of the copyright term from 50 years after the death of the author (already too long, in our opinion) to a full 70 years after the death of the author, thereby preventing for an additional generation the publication of competing editions of literary classics—editions that can often be of immense cultural and pedagogical value.
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The Ontario Book Publishers Organization recently published a study funded by the OMDC on the use of Canadian books in English classes in Ontario Public and Catholic schools from Grades 7 to 12. The study surveyed teachers and school boards on which books (including novels, short story collections, creative non-fiction, poetry and plays but not textbooks) are taught in English classes. The goal was to see whether Canadian books were included in class lists. The survey generated hundreds of responses (27 from school board participants and 280 from the Ontario Teachers Federation) resulting references to 695 books by 539 authors.
The OBPO argued that the takeaway from the study is that Canadian books are not well represented in Canadian classrooms since less than a quarter of the mentions referred to a Canadian work and none of the top 10 works were Canadian. While that suggests that there is considerable room to increase the presence of Canadian works in the classroom, the data in the study can be used for other purposes. Working with Sydney Elliott, one of my research assistants, we reviewed the OBPO data to identify the presence of public domain works in Ontario classrooms (ie. the use of works for which the term of copyright has expired).
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Judge Richard Posner, one of the best regarded judges in the world, has a blog post
in which he expresses concern about the potential for patent and copyright law to restrict competition and creativity. On patents, Posner notes:
When patent protection provides an inventor with more insulation from competition than he needed to have an adequate incentive to make the invention, the result is to increase market prices above efficient levels, causing distortions in the allocation of resources
He continues by citing the software industry as an example of the dangers of excessive patent protection. On copyright, he expresses doubt about the social benefit of copyright for any academic work other than textbooks, noting that they are a by-product of academic research that would be produced with or without copyright protection. His two major concerns involve the term of copyright (which is longer in the U.S. than in Canada but could be extended under the TPP) and narrow interpretations of fair use:
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Brad Fox of Strada Films posts on why progressive copyright reform should include reducing the term of copyright.
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