A reply from the BC Ministry of Education

I got a reply to my letter to the BC Ministry of Education. It's not just a form letter, but actually contains some substance and addresses the issues I raised. Here it is full :

I am writing in response to your letter dated, December 11, 2007, addressed to the Minister of Education, regarding copyright reform, specifically the internet education exemption. I apologize for the delay in our response.

In your correspondence you indicate your concern over the pursuit of an internet exemption within the current Copyright Act. The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) Copyright Consortium, representing several national educational organizations, student, teachers, parents, and educational authorities have come together to consider the impact of the current Copyright Act on internet resources used in the classroom. This group has determined that an internet education exemption is the most appropriate mechanism to ensure reasonable access to Internet resources that are a critical necessity for learning and teaching.

The Supreme Court of Canada's "fair dealing" decision may be interpreted to cover the educational use of the Internet. However, that is only one interpretation. One must keep in mind that the "fair dealing" decision was rendered in a situation unrelated to the educational use of the Internet. Whether the Supreme Court would rule that the activities covered by the educational amendment are covered by fair dealing is conjecture and something to be hoped for, but it is in no way certain.

To be certain that the activities covered by the education amendment are "fair dealing" requires asking the Supreme Court to decide on a case involving those activities. It would take several years before a decision on such a case could be reached. In the meantime, students, teachers, and educational authorities are left in an unacceptable state of legal uncertainty.

The CMEC Copyright Consortium would be pleased if the federal government were to define "fair dealing" to include the educational use of the Internet and enshrine this definition in copyright legislation. Such a solution has been discussed with the federal government, but there are no indications to date that it would be adopted.

In light of the above considerations, the CMEC Copyright Consortium is seeking legislative clarity on what is acceptable in terms of the educational use of the Internet, which will frame educational policies and practices.

Thank you for taking the time to provide your thoughts on this matter.