Conservative MP Joy Smith speaks out on issue of educational use of Internet

The Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, Joy Smith, plans to raise the issue of educational use of the Internet as part of the adjournment proceeding at 6:30pm on November 2 in the House of Commons. This is a postponement from an earlier possibility of October 24.

The Canadian Teachers' Federation has been trying to keep their members up-to-date on this issue, and sent messages out to teachers. The suggestion was for educators and concerned parents to show up to parliament hill and be in the gallery. This way Ms. Smith could indicate their presence to lend additional importance to her call for needed amendments to Bill C-60.

While I believe that the amendments should not be specific to educational institutions, there is a clear need for copyright law to recognize "technical indicators" of other types of "implied licenses". These are ways other than complex legal documents for copyright holders to indicate to audiences what can be done with works under copyright. As Ms. Smith and others have clarified many times, "Creators who wish to sell their materials on-line can limit access very readily through a subscription or a password process." In the absence of such a subscription or password, it is correct for people to assume they can access the work without additional permission or payment.

Joy Smith has been outspoken on this issue. She has raised the question twice before during question period in the House of Commons in the past, and has appeared on a local Shaw Cable television show.

The following is a transcript that the staff in the MP's office provided of that television show.

Show #1 Shaw Cable
Taped Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Studio Time 9:30 am-10:30 am
Airing Wednesday, October 6, 2005

Hello, my name is Joy Smith, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul and the Manitoba Conservative Caucus Chair.

Thank you for inviting me into your home each week and allowing me to provide you with information on issues directly affecting you in Manitoba and in my riding of Kildonan-St. Paul.

Did You Know?

As your children are starting a new school year this September, a law was dealt with in the House of Commons last session, that will directly affect the way your child is allowed to do research and projects in school?

It is a copyright law, that does many good things to protect creators, but is silent on the educational use of the Internet in schools all across our nation.

Let me tell you about it because as a parent watching this program, you will get valuable information that could impact on your child’s education.

The current government has chosen to table a piece of legislation, Bill C-60, which ignores the fact that the legal copyright framework for Internet use in the classroom or for educational instruction is not addressed.

It is silent on the rights and use of the Internet in schools. This silence reaches right into the classrooms and has far reaching ramifications for our children.

The absence of an education amendment to C-60 will have devastating consequences for both educators and students.

That is why, last year, concerned Ministers of Education, School Superintendents, Principals and teachers in every province met to make their voice heard at the Federal level.

This is a voice that has to be listened to in this Bill.

It is mandatory that the educational needs of students and teachers across our nation be recognized in this new digital copyright law.

It is mandatory that schools be exempt from paying every time they surf the Internet for valuable research materials.

Creators who wish to sell their materials on line can limit access very readily through a subscription or a password process.

This law does not have to penalize students who are trying to study and learn.

The deferment of this issue in this Bill exacerbates the current reality, that has students and teachers breaking the law to use Internet materials in the classroom.

With the opening of the new school year, teachers are spending countless hours preparing lesson plans, assessing students and finding new ways to open these young minds to learn the many things that they will need to acquire skills and knowledge in the work force when they leave school.

The Internet is a tool that is commonly used in the classroom. This tool has caused students to reach beyond their local arena and onto the world stage. Projects are already started, and the learning process is alive and well right now in schools in my riding of Kildonan-St. Paul.

The downloading of text and images, sharing emails, storing text on computer and running off information on research projects has become a common occurrence in classrooms across Canada.

An educational amendment for the use of the Internet should in my opinion, permit students and teachers to make effective use of the Internet as part of a program of learning.

This would include the practices that have been carried on since the introduction of the internet in our Canadian school system.

Performing music or a play on-line for students, exchanging materials with teachers or students electronically or incorporating text or images in assignments is all part of the learning process in this decade.

Terry Price, the Canadian Teacher’s Federation President said, “It took eight long years for the federal government to provide a very limited education amendment providing teachers with restricted rights to photocopy materials and videotape programs for educational purposes.”

With the growing cost of education and the challenges school divisions are facing, avoiding an educational amendment for the use of the Internet in schools and educational institutions is not only irresponsible, but damaging to the education of our children.

The Canadian education system cannot afford the luxury of waiting another eight long years for the amendment to the copyright legislation.

Clearly, copyright legislation that effectively addresses the issues facing creators when their work is downloaded or pirated to avoid the cost of a movie or a music CD is essential.

However, in an educational setting, limiting the scope to materials that have been made available by, or with the authority of the copyright owner, should be made freely available to students and Bill C-60 should reflect this.

As your member for Kildonan-St. Paul, here in Winnipeg and as a former teacher, I will be pushing for this educational amendment that will free teachers and students from the worry of breaking the law when they are trying to study and learn over the Internet.

I’m Joy Smith, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, in Winnipeg, and I am committed to serving you.

Thank you for watching.

Also published on p2pnet