Copyright Term Extension Consultation

Here’s the new Background Paper on the Copyright Term Extension under CUSMA . . .

http://ic.gc.ca/eic/site/693.nsf/eng/00188.html

The “consultation” will run until March 12th. I use quotes because it seems clear from the tone and substance of the paper that the current government thinks term extension is a good thing, and an inevitable good thing at that. In reality, I don’t think it will be much of a “consultation” but more of an after-the-fact attempt to vindicate and celebrate a very bad decision.

The government of Canada has already made harmful and unwarranted concessions to the publishing and entertainment industries. Canada had a strong competitive advantage that has been dealt away, and this consultation is simply the formalization of that process.

Still, I think it is important to make a strong effort during this (very short) public-input period. It would be especially important for the library, education, and research communities to underline how this loss of access will be a setback. This erosion of the public domain comes at a very bad time, and the current circumstances were certainly not foreseeable when Canada traded away our strong advantage here.

At the very least, the government should explore avenues to delay this implementation and also to craft much stronger mitigation measures. Ultimately though, it needs to be recognized that the Berne standard of life + 50 years, (a standard Canada has consistently complied with since the start of our modern Copyright Act in 1924) is more than enough to encourage the public interest purposes of copyright policy.

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