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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bill C-32, What’s the Skinny?

Parliament’s latest attempt to reform copyright legislation has been met with caution and criticism from the public. Bill C-32, Parliament’s third attempt at copyright reform since 2005, proposes changes to the Copyright Act, originally passed in 1921. It aims to further protect artists and copyright holders in the Digital Age.

However, there are a few restrictions that concern libraries. The proposed legislation still restricts the copying of materials for research and education proposes, frustrating both academics and educators who were hoping for a relaxation on rules pertaining to educational materials, such as books and films. As law firm Lang Michener explains:
"The Bill permits libraries to distribute [printed] materials digitally; however, the library must take measures to ensure that the client only prints one copy of the digital form, does not communicate the copy to another person and ensures that the copy is destroyed within five days after using it."
Lang Michener continues, noting that “digital distribution is only permitted if there are no digital locks on the materials.” Digital locks are “technological measure(s) designed to prevent copying.” As the bill states in section 30:
(5.02) A library, archive or museum, or a person acting under the authority of one, may, under subsection (5), provide a copy in digital form to a person who has requested it through another library, archive or museum if the providing library, archive or museum or person takes measures to prevent the person who has requested it from
(a) making any reproduction of the digital copy, including any paper copies, other than printing one copy of it;
(b) communicating the digital copy to any other person; and
(c) using the digital copy for more than five business days from the day on which the person first uses it.
This restriction could prevent libraries from distributing potentially popular titles to their patrons, forcing them to look elsewhere for digital materials.

The bill, which can be read here, must still pass through legislation before a vote is scheduled in Parliament. For a summary of the bill and what it changes, Lang Michener has a comprehensive outline of the bill here. You can also read more about the bill at CBC News.

What’s your take on Bill C-32? How are your patrons and librarians reacting to the proposed reform?

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