Copyright modernization: enhancing education and job creation


With the passage of the Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11), Canada’s copyright laws will move into the 21st century with a framework that is forward-looking and flexible, bringing Canada in line with technological advancements and ensuring our continued leadership in the global digital economy.

Bill C-11 establishes an environment that promotes innovation, attracts investment, and creates jobs. It ensures that creators of artistic works and intellectual property can protect their investments and realize an income for their work. At the same time, it recognizes the rights of consumers, permitting the use of legitimately acquired material for user-generated content and allowing activities such as time-shifting, format-shifting, and backup copying.

This legislation was drafted following extensive consultations among stakeholders, where we heard a wide range of concerns and suggestions. Bill C-11 is a uniquely Canadian compromise that achieves a delicate balance of competing interests.

The educational community has a significant stake in the future of copyright law because universities are environments where creativity and innovation thrive. Furthermore, students and educators are consumers of a variety of media, and benefit from the sharing and dissemination of information and ideas.

In recognition of education’s significant benefits to society, the Copyright Modernization Act has expanded the fair dealing provisions to include education. This means that copyrighted material can be used to enhance educational opportunities, incorporating the latest technologies in a manner that respects the interests of the copyright owner.

For example, this bill legitimizes the use of copyrighted material in online courses, permits the digital delivery of course materials, and allows for the copying of materials that are freely available over the Internet. In addition, it allows libraries to digitize print material and provide it electronically through an interlibrary loan. And because the bill is technologically neutral, it will be adaptable to future developments.

As a member of the legislative committee that studied the bill, and an MP whose riding is home to two universities, I was in a unique position to evaluate the changes to copyright legislation with a view to ensuring that all the interests of the educational community were taken into consideration.

I heard directly from representatives of student organizations, college and university communities, school boards and education ministers, and creators and publishers of educational material. I believe the Copyright Modernization Act successfully balances all these interests, and will increase innovative learning opportunities for all Canadians.

At the same time, it provides critical protection for intellectual property and gives creators the option of using technological protection measures (TPMs) as a business model to optimize profitability. As the most innovative community in Canada, Waterloo has a stake in ensuring that creators can benefit from their ingenuity.

One illustration of this is the use of TPMs to protect the investments of Canada’s growing video game industry that employs approximately 16,000 people and generates $1.7 billion in economic activity. Stronger protection measures will ensure that this industry can attract investment and compete internationally, while creating high quality knowledge jobs in communities like ours.

At the same time, the free flow of ideas generates further discovery and innovation. To recognize this, Bill C-11 allows the circumvention of TPMs for legitimate purposes including reverse engineering, encryption research, and security testing.

Ultimately, a balanced and robust copyright regime will spur innovation, enhance competition and productivity, and ensure our place at the forefront of the digital economy.

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