On September 7, a Dine-Around event was held at the Bedford Academy on the subject of copyright and libraries. As the organizer of the event, I felt that it was important to create a forum for library and information professionals to discuss an issue that has crept up to the forefront of pressing issues that are facing libraries today. With universities and colleges across the country embroiled in an ongoing dispute with Access Copyright over copyright issues in libraries and on campuses, and with marked differences in opinions on fair dealing, pricing, and the future of compliance and enforcement, the stakes are tremendously high and positions are increasingly entrenched.
The discussion proved to be lively and spirited, with participants discussing a panoply of issues and ideas drawn from the Access Copyright dispute, as well as on the future of copyright and on the evolution ideas of authorship and copyright – especially since the days of Napster. This was also reflected in discussion over generational differences of opinion, with younger users – and this demographic is highly reflective of most current undergraduate students – having a significantly different outlook and opinions on copyright from older users. There was also discussion on the proposed amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act – which have since been re-tabled, after having died on the order paper in the spring – which has the potential to simultaneously expand and restrict copyright in the field of academia.
Although there were no hard-and-fast conclusions at the end of the evening, the sharing of opinions and ideas, many of which were markedly divergent, ultimately built a stronger understanding of the challenges that face those who deal with contemporary copyright issues. As many institutions attempt to navigate the choppy waters out of the old Access Copyright tariff system status quo and into the brave new world of open access and fair dealing, these discussions will undoubtedly become increasingly urgent and important, with the outcome having the potential to shape the future of Canadian copyright. While there are many players in this particular dance, it should fall to librarians and information professionals to lead the way.