Fix fair dealing, say library, education, creator, and consumer groups

More than 25 library, education, creator, and consumer groups have issued a public letter calling on Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore to adopt a flexible fair dealing approach. The letter argues for a "such as" approach to fair dealing by making the current list of fair dealing categories illustrative rather than exhaustive. The group points to three arguments - flexible fair dealing advances the balanced objectives of the Copyright Act, is consistent with Canadian values of fairness, and is consistent with international law. It concludes:

We ask that you amend fair dealing to embrace Canadian values of fairness so that fair dealing applies to all dealings that are fair. No single change to Canada’s Copyright Act could do more to address its long-recognized short-comings in a technologically neutral way. The change we ask for is simple and equitable: what’s fair is fair, and should also be legal.

Among the more than two dozen signatories include the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, Appropriation Art, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Library Association, Canadian Museums Association, Documentary Organization of Canada, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.

Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.