SLA Raises Concerns about Copyright Extension
Urges Canada to consider ‘other policies’ to address copyright interests
McLean, Virginia, U.S.A., 13 April 2021—Canada’s extension of its term of general copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years following the death of the content creator will benefit the publishing industry and creative enterprises at the expense of the public, according to two organizations that represent hundreds of librarians in Canada.
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) and the Corporation of Professional Librarians of Quebec (CBPQ) issued a joint statement in response to the copyright extension, which is being implemented in accordance with the 2018 Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Under CUSMA, which took effect in July 2020, Canada agreed to harmonize its general copyright protection term with that of the United States, which extends protection for works created after January 1, 1978, to the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.
While acknowledging that the copyright protection term was being extended to comply with the agreement, SLA and the CBPQ urged the Canadian Government to consider taking other actions to address the copyright interests of different stakeholders.
“As a first step, we want the exceptions provided for in the Copyright Act currently (i.e., those on fair use, those on exceptions for libraries, museums or archives, and those on exceptions for educational institutions) are maintained and that the balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public is preserved,” the statement says. “Fair dealing is of particular importance because it allows access to a wide variety of works, especially to students, while allowing greater visibility for creators . . . Then, we believe that it is necessary that works whose protection had expired under the old legislation not be placed again under protection in the event that the death took place more than 50 years ago, but less than 70 years.”
SLA has long been active in promoting copyright laws and regulations that balance the interests of content creators with those of content users, including researchers, students, and the general public. In April 2020, for example, SLA signed on to two letters to the World Intellectual Property Organization urging WIPO to take the global lead on copyright and intellectual property laws that would allow libraries to provide and protect access to research and cultural resources in the face of challenges such as the COVID-19 virus pandemic and climate change.
“Copyright protection is the price we pay to encourage creativity, and the library community believes it is a price worth paying,” says 2021 SLA President Tara Murray Grove. “But the price should not be so high that it discourages the sharing of information and ideas that are essential to learning and progress. Extensions of copyright protection should take into consideration the interests of all stakeholders before being approved.”
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in more than 60 countries and in a range of working environments, including business, academia and government agencies. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. For more information, visit sla.org.