Canadian Library Association Disappointed, Concerned with New Copyright Legislation

(Ottawa, June 18, 2008) – The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques (CLA) is continuing to express disappointment and concern with the government’s newly announced copyright legislation, Bill C-61.

“There are many troubling aspects to this proposed legislation,” says CLA President Ken Roberts, “and unless there are many substantial changes, this should not become law.”

CLA is disappointed that in many places Bill C-61 appears to give users some rights, but overall takes away more than it gives.

“The much ballyhooed ‘giving the consumer more rights’ is smoke-and-mirrors,” Mr. Roberts says. “Prohibiting access to the tools that give users their access to legally acquired information is simply wrong.”

The proposed legislation gives rightsholders the power to override users’ statutory rights either by contract or by the application of digital locks. CLA believes overriding users’ rights is not in consumers’ best interests.

“Turning Canadians into criminals because they break a digital lock so they can legally use a music, video or document file is Catch-22,” says Mr. Roberts. “We shouldn’t make owning a hacksaw illegal; we should ensure theft is illegal.”

For a teenager, the criminal risk involved in shoplifting a CD would be safer rather than circumventing digital rights management (DRM) software on a CD they purchased to put on their iPod.

Some aspects of the legislation are unenforceable and will simply be ignored, and others miss opportunities to improve access to information. One example is the missed opportunity on perceptual disabilities, where the Bill allows users to circumvent DRM software, but the provisions for allowing the creation or import of the technology to do so are inadequate.

Another example is loaning of digital content by libraries. Bill C-61 ignores the fact that the 2004 CCH Supreme Court Judgment already allows Canadian libraries to do desktop delivery of interlibrary loan. Bill C-61 requires libraries to lock up interlibrary loans with DRM tools, something that most libraries would not have the resources to accomplish. Bill C-61 alone would force many libraries back to delivering interlibrary loan via paper copies. “On loaning of digital content, C-61 attempts to move Canada back to the 20th Century,” says Mr. Roberts. “This is clearly not workable.”

CLA is also concerned that some of its issues are to be dealt with in regulations, not legislation. “We don’t know enough to determine the real impact of this legislation on Canada’s 21 million library users,” Mr. Roberts says. “Bill C-61 attempts to provide balance, but misses the boat for ordinary Canadians”.


The Canadian Library Association/Association canadienne des bibliothèques (CLA) is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians and library workers, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.

For media interviews, please contact Ken Roberts, Chief Librarian, Hamilton Public Library, telephone: (905) 546-3215; e-mail kroberts@hpl.ca. CLA office contact information: Don Butcher, Executive Director, 613-232-9625 ext. 306; e-mail dbutcher@cla.ca.

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