Education News – Bill C-61 bad for students, say campus bookstores

Amendments to the Copyright Act could make learning materials less accessible

WATERLOO (CUP) ? Bill C-61, which outlines various amendments to the Copyright Act, has many campus bookstores across Canada worried about the continued overpricing of course materials, as well as a decrease in their accessibility.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice introduced the Bill in the House of Commons about three weeks ago. It aims to halt copyright infringement by preventing people from copying or sharing electronic material.

According to Chris Tabor, manager of the Queens University Bookstore, Bill C-61 threatens to maintain old limitations that have kept course books expensive while creating new restrictions that will make it more difficult for students to complete their readings.

As a member of Campus Stores Canada, an organization of almost 100 member stores across the country, Tabor believes that ?the Copyright Act has not been fair to students both academically and financially.?

He says changes made to the 1997 Copyright Act allow publishers across Canada to create Canadian import monopolies, making it impossible for bookstores to buy from distributors around the world whose prices may be cheaper.

?In Canada, publishers do two things?publish and distribute. If they have exclusive distribution rights in Canada, the bookstores aren’t allowed to purchase from cheaper places in the United States, the United Kingdom, or others,? he said.

?Students are paying a 10 to 15 per cent premium. We believe we can have that decreased by 15 per cent over night just by purchasing from other places in the world,? he added.

Bill C-61 will keep these high costs in place and add detrimental rules regarding the copying of reading material, says Tabor.

These changes would allow creators of material to put digital locks on their work in order to impose copy restrictions.

In addition, all electronic copies made could be designed to self-destruct or delete after five days.

?A lot of copying that could’ve taken place under principles of fair use will be put into question,? said Tabor. ?I think It’s a step backwards and it will make things a lot more confusing.?

Tabor notes, however, that the Bill is still in discussion and he will continue to fight for its removal.

?We’ve been lobbying the government and individual MPs for the removal of the clause [imposed in 1997],? he said.

?A great many students can be part of the grassroots effort. They could visit faircopyright.ca and there’s a great deal of discussion there about the act and how it affects students,? he added.

While the Bill may prove harmful to university students, it is also a source of great controversy in Canada in general, as many avidly criticize or support it.

CBCNews.ca writes that one of the greatest problems critics have with the Bill is the strengthening of digital locks by CD makers, DVD makers, and even television networks, allowing them to make it impossible for users to copy chosen media.

Moreover, individuals caught illegally uploading to YouTube or a peer-to-peer network could be sued for as much as $20,000 per file.

Bill C-61 will have obvious gains for members of the entertainment industry. The Entertainment Software Association of Canada, a video game industry lobby group, supports the legislation, as it will serve to keep profits in the hands of game developers and publishers.

Likewise, musicians, moviemakers, record labels, and other media creators have praised the Bill, as it could serve to help entertainment industries, giving them back a greater cut of the profit.

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