Protecting Ourselves to Death: Canada, Copyright, and the Internet

October 7, 2004

These “common sense” ideas, fostered by rights–holder lobbies, emerge out of a peculiar Canadian history of cultural nationalism(s), but they may not promote the interests of Canadians. Ironically, while professing fear for their cultural sovereignty, and following the paths of their own internal political, bureaucratic, and rhetorical culture, Canadians appear to be constructing a copyright policy in complete harmony with the needs of American and international capital. I explore a proposal to license educational Internet use, endorsed by parliamentary committee, as one example of the relationship between protection rhetoric and policy development. By casting the Internet as more of a threat than an opportunity, copyright policy developers in Canada are gravely misunderstanding and threatening Canadians’ use of this medium. The participation of Canadians in national and global interaction is crucial to the Canadian public interest, and must not be forgotten in the rush to protection. Beyond its analysis of this specific proposal, this paper calls for a copyright policy in line with the Canadian tradition of balancing private and public interests.

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