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[d@DCC] C-36 thoughts

From: mskala _-at-_
To: discuss (at)
Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 21:50:42 -0400 (EDT)

I've had a chance to take a more serious look at Bill C-36 now, and some
of my thoughts are in my Web log here:

I'm pleased with the bill overall - I think the people who wrote it were
paying attention to the right issues, and that's good.  It extends
copyright in unpublished works, and that's not something I'm happy about,
but as long as it's limited to unpublished works I don't think it's really
a big deal.  It creates special exemptions to copyright allowing the
newly-created "Librarian and Archivist" to archive copies of published
work, or of Web pages.

There is something in C-36 which I think may be quite dangerous, though,
and that is a requirement for anyone who publishes anything to send two
copies to the national archives.  Now... I'm pleased with the idea of
building a national archives of published work to be available to
everyone.  I especially like that idea in the context of some of the TPM
discussions we've had - I think I first heard it from Chris Friesen, but
it's a fairly common idea in our community that anyone who publishes a
TPM-embargoed work should have to put an unencumbered copy on public
deposit for purposes of fair dealing, and it would just take a stroke of a
pen in the "regulations" to Bill C-36 to create that kind of
regime.  However, I'm worried about how the current wording in C-36 could
be abused.

The thing is, it applies to all published works, and published works
appear intended to include Web sites and all other communication made to
the public, and the two copies have to be provided at the publisher's own
expense.  The details, and exemption of some classes of works, are left up
to the "regulations" to be written later.  Does that mean that if I update
my Web site, I have to send two copies of it on paper to the National
Archives?  Every single time I update (which is typically daily)?  Does
that mean that if I want to publish something anonymously, I can't,
because I have to identify myself to the Librarian and Archivist?  It
seems to me like a hypothetical evil future government could use the
provisions of C-36, in the name of "preserving archives", to create a
licensing-the-press scheme, or to crack down on dissent, because any
political messages would of course be "published" and would then have
to be reported to the government.  I oppose any law that could be
abused in that way.  I think there need to be limitations to prevent such

I can see two ways the "must provide two copies to the archives"
requirement could be made palatable to me:  One, we could exempt
non-commercial and political communication.  Two, we could say it's
entirely optional, but that there is no copyright protection on a
communication unless it is either sent to the archives or exempted by
regulation.  I like plan two better; it allows anyone to publish anything
they want without incurring any obligations to report to the government,
but it also forces all communications that people want to claim copyright
on, to be potentially archivable.  What do you think?
Matthew Skala                    Embrace and defend.

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