Copyright Bill is No Ripoff of Textbooks

David Fewer of CIPPIC responds to the misinformation campaign on C-32 and fair dealing.


  1. Certainly there has been a certain amount of misinformation about this subject out there… I presume some of it is a result of a genuine misunderstanding of the impact. Some would most likely be deliberate misrepresentation. I admit that I’ve also been taken in by some of the misinformation.

    However, we do need to be careful with the application of exemptions to ANY law, copyright or otherwise. There needs to be a genuine societal benefit for the exemption. The exemption should be the minimum needed to achieve the aim. Simply because it makes someones job easier, well frankly I can’t support that being a valid reason for an exemption. Those benefiting from the use of an exemption need to be aware of the limitations of it; and agree to respect those limitations.

    Let me give a couple of examples. The first is an example of a bad exemption. The DNCL legislation exempted, among other things, political parties and polls. There is no way that the politicians should have given themselves an exemption… that they incorporated this into the legislation is arguably a conflict of interest. And now we have marketers making calls that start out as a poll and then proceed to try to get money from you.

    The second example is a hypothetical example related to an exemption which makes someone’s job easier. Currently the police generally need a warrant to enter a person’s home. Now, let’s assume that the Ottawa city police decide that they need to be exempted from this requirement to make their jobs easier in order to deal with drugs in the city… should they have this exemption? Mind you, this type of thing has been requested before… remember a couple of years ago about the powers the police wanted to deal with paedophiles and others who were a danger to children (among other things they wanted to be able to get, without a warrant, information from telcos and ISPs).

    Every exemption creates an avenue for the misuse or abuse of it. With rights comes responsibilities, unfortunately in the west we tend to remember the former and forget (or ignore) the latter.

  2. Chris Brand says:

    @Anon-K – I completely agree with you that we have to be careful with the scope of exceptions, but come to different conclusions (I think) as a result.
    I see copyright as an exception to the tangible property laws – if I buy something, I can generally do what I like with it, but copyright means that for some types of property (those that embody copyrighted works), some of the things I might like to do (read it in public, for example) are restricted.
    With this viewpoint, fair dealing is the exception to the copyright exception to the rule that I can do what I like with my property.
    There’s also a decent argument to be made that copyright is also an exception to the general rule of free [removed]I can generally write what I like, but copyright creates some exceptions to this rule).
    Of course C-32 would add exceptions to the exceptions of fair dealing (you can do what you like with your property, unless it’s restricted by copoyright, unless it’s fair dealing, unless the rightsholder has decided to disallow fair dealing with a TPM…”)

  3. C’mon, everyone knows this Fewer character is a shill for the American, corporate big-user movement (Hi David!).

    Actually, I love what Fewer says in his letter. If we could somehow write those assurances into C-32 – you know, provide some clear legislative guidance – then we could finally all go for a drink.

    Well, at least me and David could go for a drink.

  4. @Chris Brand
    Personally I view copyright as something that is more orthogonal to tangible property laws (in that property laws relate to something that you possess and your rights with respect to that specific item).

    As I see it, copyright is about the rights to reproduce (copy) the item you possess. Certainly the idea of reproducing and distributing to others is the basis for copyright itself; where it gets hairy is when you are making a copy for yourself. There are some that view it as against copyright; my understanding is that is, in effect, what the current law states and was the reason for the private copying levy. The law has never really caught up with the advent of consumer technology that can inexpensively make copies of a work… The concept of the rights of the consumer have never really been addressed, much less balancing them with the rights of the copyright holder.

    When specifically talking about an education exemption, who is that consumer? Is it the student? Is it the parent of the student (in the case of a school rather than a post-secondary institution)? Is it the institution or school that purchases the work in the first place? While a specific application may in fact fail the 6-step test, how does a university researcher fit into this? Could they qualify for an educational exemption, in particular if they are a Masters or Doctoral candidate working on a research project for a prof (as opposed to a thesis) (presuming the research is in their field of study)? How about if the funding for that project is private (for instance, a medical or pharmacy student working on drug trials funded by a pharmacorp)?