61 Reforms to C-61, Day 46: Education Harms – Lesson Provisions Only Extend To Limited Exceptions

With the school year set to resume in just over a week, the 61 reforms series turns to the education concerns associated with Bill C-61. Statistics Canada confirmed last fall that the Internet is changing the face of Canadian education by altering the ways students conduct their research or participate in distance learning.  This is particularly true for students from rural or small-town communities, who increasingly depend on the Internet for electronic distance learning.  Many in the education community have reacted with alarm at C-61 including the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Canadian Federation of Students.  Moreover, University executives are beginning to speak out as well – Athabasca University Vice-President of Research Rory McGreal recently published an op-ed that warned that "the proposed new Bill C-61 will have profound negative effects on researchers and educators as well as the general public."

A particular sore point is the bill's treatment of "lessons."  While the provisions purport to provide the education community with new rights to faciliate distance learning, these provisions are stunningly arcane and practically worthless. 

To begin with, it isn't entirely clear what a "lesson" is – the bill features a circular definition that states at Section 30.01(1) that a lesson means:

a lesson, test or examination, or part of one, in which, or during the course of which, an act is done in respect of a work or other subject-matter by an educational institution or a person acting under its authority that would otherwise be an infringement of copyright but is permitted under any of sections 29.4 to 29.6 and subsection 29.7(3).

Sections 29.4 to 29.6 are the special education exemptions already in the Copyright Act.  They include the right to use overhead machines, dry-erase boards, copy news programs, and an assortment of other limited activities (the broader fair dealing provision is far better for the research and private study side of education).  Bill C-61 confirms that these rights now extend to the distance learning since

a student who is enrolled in a course of which the lesson forms a part is deemed to be a person on the premises
of the educational institution when the student participates in or receives the lesson by means of communication by telecommunications under paragraph 3(a).

Yet the education community relies on more than just the education exemptions.  The other exemptions – Section 29 (fair dealing for research or private study), 29.1 (fair dealing for criticism or review), and 29.2 (fair dealing for news reporting) are an essential part of the Act and the everyday educational activities.  If the goal is to extend the current exceptions to students outside the traditional classroom, the bill should grant educators the right to do so for all the exemptions found in the Copyright Act.


  1. making multiple copies for handouts or sale isn\’t usually considered fair dealing in Canada

  2. it is when you cite your sources and freely advertise for the copyright holders and charge nothing for the “handout”

  3. No, it’s when you give out what doesn\’t belong to you.

  4. teachers dont care says:

    teachers suck
    if teachers really cared, then they would be pressuring bell canada to stop TRAFFIC SHAPING.

    END of storey.

  5. Deregulation, liberalization and privati
    @2008-08-25 23:03:30: Are you a bad student?

    As for Prentice, Harper and Co.,

    Look what they have done with Fido-Rogers merger, look at their inaction in Net Neutrality fight. So, now we have an insight into Conservative thinking on public services: “Deregulation, liberalization and privatization.”

    The Harper government is currently conducting an accelerated review of the Canadian Postal Service to set it up for sale to the highest private bidder. This is the first review of a publicly owned service that has not been open to the public in Canada’s history. If the Conservatives are the example of a responsible and accountable government then why isn’t their selling of the Postal Service being made public?
    The importance of this service can not be overstated. Canadians ANYWHERE in our country recieve their mail at a flat rate. If this service is sold off it will cause a great fluctuation in prices for consumers and imminent layoffs for workers. Please help make this a publicly (and democratically!) debated issue! After all it is the public’s service, we own it and should decide what to do with it!

    [ link ]

    [ link ]

  6. Fido-Rogers merger was actually during Liberals.

  7. @ Deregulation, liberalization and priva
    When it comes to selling off public works/services I thought the government had, not “had the option to” but HAS to inform the public that said service will become privatized…this conservative has done nothing but destroy the image of the government WORSE than the liberals did, and the sad thing is I was a believer in their promises of change, if I knew then what I know now I would never have voted for them, they are a cancer and are slowly destroying the image of Canada in the eyes of its’ citizens.

  8. @ Nathan S.
    Oh there were a lot of changes. Were they good or bad? Most of us here will say bad.

    That’s why you can’t just be lured in by the “change” bait. Change for the sake of change is a kind of sin. (For lack of a better way to put it) Not to say that sticking to the same old for the sake of tradition is better.

    Change should follow the need of the public, not the interests of a few at the cost of the rest.

  9. Election coming Soon
    Nothing to say!
    No wonder the election is coming soon!