Michael Ireland

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From: Michael Ireland
Sent: March 4, 2021 4:04 PM
To: copyrightconsultation / consultationdroitdauteur (PCH)
Subject: Comment on Consultation paper on how to implement an extended general term of copyright protection in Canada

Comment Re: Consultation paper on how to implement an extended general term of copyright protection in Canada

To: ISED and Canadian Heritage

Canada needs to have an independent copyright policy framed around the needs of Canadians to access orphan works and those not commercially available, particularly for research, archival and preservation purposes.

From my many years of experience working in the field of research librarianship, Canada is a net importer of content and as such would be harmed by a copyright regime that tips the balance in the favour of creators, many of whom are outside of its borders.

I also believe that the interests of creators are very well protected and represented by publishers, Canadian and multinational, as well as collectives which work tirelessly to ensure that creators are compensated, Canadian or international. In fact, millions of dollars each year are paid by LAMs - libraries, archives and museums (as well as their parent bodies, mostly public) to compensate creators both inside and outside of this country.

Canada more than adequately pays its fair share to creators and their representatives for all types of content, but particularly research content.

As such, giving creators another 20 years of copyright protection for some of the oldest and least commercially lucrative materials (unless they are Disney's) is not fair to Canadians who need easy access, particularly in research settings. The fact that many of these materials are orphan works and not available commercially makes access even more difficult. There is much reference in the paper about "reasonable search in good faith", "reasonable price", etc. to access these materials, but the reality is that no one can easily define what that means for a LAM or its patrons. Older, unpublished works, many of which will be covered by this extension, will definitely be expensive to track down. The costs, in my personal experience, will be high and public institutions are not funded to make exhaustive searches for orphan or out-of-print works or to then pay for them. As  such, it can be  expected that many will  pass the cost on to the patron who definitely cannot afford it.

I therefore recommend that given that the decision has been made to implement a 20-year term extension on copyright, that the cost should be borne by the creators to register their own copyright, as it was in the past. Those creators and their representatives (publishers, collectives) who wish to extend the copyright of their works by 20 years should register them with CIPO. The rest, any not registered, should be in the public domain. As for the registration of international works, I am not as concerned as some would have us believe. I believe international creators can count on the support of international publishers and collectives when they need to register their copyright in Canada. The fact that registration can be done digitally puts all creators, Canadian and international creators on a level playing field when registering works in another country that did not exist when the Berne Convention was conceived.

I do not doubt that once registration becomes the policy, that between CIPO, the publishers and collectives, they will find a way to make the system efficient and affordable for creators and easy for both creators and users to track copyright and make payments. I believe it is up to the creators and their representatives to register and track their own works if they want them protected by this term extension (I would go further and say all new works going forward should be registered with CIPO). I note here that Research libraries did this kind of tracking for publishers and collectives for many years, at their own expense, but that time is past. Now it is time for the publishing industry and collectives to do this for creators, working with CIPO.

Kind regards, Michael Ireland (ret.)