OTTAWA, June 5, 2019 – On June 3, 2019, the Government of Canada’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) published a Report on the Statutory Review of the Copyright Act, in which they proposed measures that would ensure the continued protection of learner rights in the country.
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has been closely following and participating in the review of the Copyright Act, as its potential impact on students is great. To achieve and maintain a high quality post-secondary education in Canada, students need continued access to information. The fair dealing exemption to Copyright Law for educational purposes and transparent decisions regarding the law are both critical for reducing barriers to learning, fostering innovation, and enhancing the quality of post-secondary education in Canada.
As a strong advocate for protecting fair dealing for educational purposes, CASA supports the committee’s position to do just that. Specifically, the committee stated that it “cannot endorse the proposal to limit educational fair dealing to cases where access to a work is not ‘commercially available,’ as defined under the Act.” CASA further welcomes the committee’s recommendation that the Government of Canada consider facilitating further discussion between the educational sector and the copyright collectives, over the next three years, to build consensus about the future of educational fair dealing in Canada. CASA will welcome future opportunities to share how fair dealing for educational purposes has greatly benefitted post-secondary students and why it should be preserved within the Copyright Act.
The committee also suggested that the Government of Canada introduce legislation to make the list of purposes allowable under the fair dealing exception an illustrative list rather than an exhaustive one. This is a proposal to make the purposes for which fair dealing can be used more flexible and adaptive, which CASA supports.
In CASA’s advocacy, the importance of bringing Copyright Law up to speed with technology was stressed. For instance, technological protection measures, such as digital locks, prevent students from legally exercising their right to access material under fair dealing. CASA welcomes the committee’s call to "modernize copyright policy,... notably to facilitate the maintenance, repair or adaptation of a lawfully-acquired device for non-infringing purposes."
Finally, CASA advocated for reform of the Copyright Board, to ensure increased transparency for students and others who are affected by its decisions. Specifically, CASA asked that public interest and non-commercial stakeholders, including students, be more easily able to intervene in hearings and contribute to legal arguments of the Copyright Board. CASA would have liked to see this recommendation be implemented, given that costly tariffs on copyrighted educational materials are passed on to students through ancillary fees. CASA understands the committee’s desire to wait and assess the new changes to the Copyright Board, but hopes that in future consideration, the committee will remember the importance of allowing those impacted by the Copyright Board’s decisions to be involved in their processes.
Established in 1995, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, national student organization composed of 23 student associations representing 280,000 post-secondary students from coast to coast. With its partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU), CASA represents a total of 360,000 students across Canada and presents a national student voice to the federal government. CASA advocates for a Canadian post-secondary education system that is accessible, affordable, innovative, and of the highest quality.
Lindsay Boyd, Communications and Public Relations Officer