Crown copyright, which grants the government exclusive copyright in any any work that is, or has been, prepared or published by or under the direction or control, has long been the focus on copyright and open government advocates who have called for its elimination. Under the current system of crown copyright that dates back for decades, government departments can use copyright to limit the publication or distribution of public works. While the government moved away from paid licensing to a non-commercial licence in 2010, commercial uses are still subject to permission and licence. The issue was one of the most controversial at the 2019 copyright review with the committee split on the issue: the government supported the creation of an open licence, while both the Conservatives and NDP backed its elimination altogether.
While debate over crown copyright continues (this 2019 Law Bytes podcast episode with Amanda Wakaruk and Jeremy de Beer focused on it), NDP MP Brian Masse has been a consistent advocate in favour of its elimination. There have been bills to eliminate crown copyright that date back to the 1990s, but Masse has introduced several crown copyright bills in recent years. Last week, he did it again with Bill C-374.
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The government’s consultation on copyright and generative AI closed last week. The submissions are not yet public, but I am pleased to post my submission, which focused on an exception for text and data mining, the inclusion of copyrighted works in large language models, and the copyright implications of outputs from generative AI systems. My submission noted that the consultation raises several questions related to generative AI and copyright. I focused on three:
(1) Should Canada proceed with a text and data mining exception as recommended in the 2019 Copyright Act review?
(2) Should Canada introduce legislative reforms to address the use of copyright works in large language models (LLMs) that are central to the development of generative AI technologies?
(3) Should Canada introduce legislative reforms to address copyright-related questions arising from the outputs of generative AI systems?
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Generative AI raises a host of interesting legal issues, but perhaps none will be more contentious than the intersection between copyright and services such as ChatGPT. The copyright questions apply both the creation of large language models used to train these systems as well as the copyright associated with outputs. These questions have sparked high profile class action lawsuits and government consultations on potential reform.
Andres Guadamuz is a Reader in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Sussex and the Editor in Chief of the Journal of World Intellectual Property. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to explain the copyright implications of generative AI and to unpack the claims found in the copyright class action lawsuits.
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Since the Canadian copyright law reforms in 2012, education and libraries have increased spending on licensing and a non-partisan House of Commons study found no need to create new restriction on education and library copying rights. Yet with misinformation flooding the copyright debate, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations recently spoke out in an effort to set the record straight. Victoria Owen, a leading expert on copyright and libraries, is the chair of the CFLA copyright committee. She joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the CFLA statement and copyright law in Canada.
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Last month, the Canadian Federation of Library Associations released a much-needed statement that sought to counter the ongoing misinformation campaign from copyright lobby groups regarding the state of Canadian copyright and the extensive licensing by libraries and educational institutions. I had no involvement whatsoever with the statement, but was happy to tweet it out and was grateful for the effort to set the record straight on what has been a relentless misinformation campaign that ignores the foundational principles of copyright law. Lobby groups have for years tried to convince the government that 2012 copyright reforms are to blame for the diminished value of the Access Copyright licence that led Canadian educational institutions to seek other alternatives, most notably better licensing options that offer greater flexibility, access to materials, and usage rights. This is false, and when the CFLA dared to call it out, those same groups then expressed their “profound disappointment” in the library association.
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