Thank you very much.
Good morning, everyone. As stated, I am accompanied today by Nova Scotia's deputy minister of education, Rosalind Penfound, who also serves as chair of the CMEC deputy ministers' committee respecting copyright issues, and by Wanda Noel, the legal counsel to our organization.
The Council of Ministers of Education Canada, CMEC, is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by education ministers to support their collective efforts in fulfilling the constitutional responsibilities for education conferred on provinces and territories. I am the chair of CMEC's Copyright Consortium, which is comprised of 12 of the provincial and territorial education ministers, the one exception being the minister from Quebec.
Copyright law directly affects our policies and practices in classrooms across Canada. The existing lack of clarity is why the CMEC Copyright Consortium has been persistent over the past decade in urging the federal government to clarify digital copyright law.
Ministers of education, as the guardians of the Canadian public education system, view copyright matters very seriously. We respect and teach respect for copyright within schools. We are actively engaged in the federal copyright reform process to seek fair and reasonable access for students and teachers in their educational pursuits.
Rapid advances in technology-enhanced learning call for a modernized Copyright Act. Students and teachers require a copyright law that addresses these new technologies, technologies that have opened doors to wonderful new ways for teachers to seize upon that “teachable moment” with their students. In the absence of the proposed education amendments that embrace this technological development, Canadian schools and post-secondary institutions may be legally obliged to forgo learning opportunities and curtail Internet use in the classroom out of fear that they may break the law. Bill C-32 deals appropriately with these significant education issues. This legislation provides the right balance between the rights of users, creators, and the industries that market the works of creators.
This morning I submitted to the committee clerk a set of recommendations addressing a number of Bill C-32 amendments that impact education. In certain cases, the consortium has suggested specific legislative wording. In my short introductory remarks I wish to highlight three matters that are of particular importance for education ministers.
First, Bill C-32 addresses the priority concern of the education community, which is to establish the legal framework for students and teachers to use the Internet for teaching and learning. The proposed educational use of the Internet amendment is a reasonable, balanced approach for learning in the digital age. We applaud the government for this, because balanced legislation, based on principles of fairness, can be effectively taught and enforced.
Second, the consortium applauds the inclusion of education in the fair-dealing provision. However, although welcome, we suggest the education and fair-dealing amendment needs to be clarified. For this amendment to have its desired effect, the term “education” should be clarified by stating that education includes teachers making copies for students in their classes. This clarification is needed so teachers may copy short excerpts from copyrighted material for their students--for example, a clip from a television program for a current events class or a diagram illustrating a science or math topic. The wording of our proposed clarification is similar to the United States fair-use clause, which has been in place since 1977. Adding education--including multiple copies for class use--to the list of enumerated fair-dealing purposes will not mean teachers can copy whatever they want. Copying by teachers still must be fair under the two-step test to qualify for fair dealing established by the Supreme Court of Canada. For example, copying entire books does not meet the second test for fairness.
Third, it has been suggested by some witnesses that the education community does not want to pay for education materials. This is clearly wrong. Educational institutions currently pay for content and for copying materials. For the education community, copyright reform law is not about getting material for free. The education section currently pays hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase and license content, such as textbooks, film, music, and art. With Bill C-32, the sector will continue to pay hundreds of millions of dollars. Nothing in Bill C-32 alters the current relationship among education, publishers, content providers, copyright collectives, and the Copyright Board.
In closing, the education ministers across this country have long maintained that a modern and balanced copyright framework will protect the public interest and produce many societal benefits. The need for such a framework has never been more important than now, when all levels of government are investing in connecting learning Canadians and promoting skill development and innovation. The CMEC Copyright Consortium would like to see this copyright legislation passed to establish that necessary framework for learning Canadians to excel in our digital world.