Allow educational Use of the Internet, Urges National Coalition of Parents, Students, and Educators


Allow educational use of the Internet, urges national coalition of parents, students, and educators

Educational amendment needed to protect classrooms from copyright infringement lawsuits and to ensure students build the skills required in the global economy.

OTTAWA, April 15, 2005 — If upcoming copyright reform legislation does not include an amendment for the educational use of the Internet, students' access to valuable learning tools in Canadian classrooms will be severely hampered, warns a coalition of seven national organizations representing educators, parents, and students.

“Under Canada's current copyright law, it is illegal for students and teachers to participate in routine classroom activities such as downloading, saving, or sharing Internet text or images that were intended to be freely used.  This leaves educational institutions, teachers, and students in a situation of great legal uncertainty and potentially great legal liability.  Extensive public consultations have already been held on this issue.  The time has come to amend the law to ensure that teachers and students are provided with legal access to Internet materials that have been made publicly available by copyright owners with no expectation of payment for their use,” said Canadian Teachers' Federation spokesperson Harvey Weiner.

The coalition proposes an educational amendment to the Copyright Act to allow fair and reasonable educational uses of the Internet, such as downloading and distribution of “publicly available” Internet materials, while also recognizing the rights of copyright owners.

“The Internet has become an integral part of students' learning experience in Canada, and our current copyright laws do not address this.  The amendment my colleague ministers and I are proposing would bring about a win-win situation for all sides and strike the proper balance between the concerned parties involved,” said Nova Scotia's Education Minister Jamie Muir, Chair of the Copyright Consortium of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

“Regrettably, the people who most suffer from the current situation are our students from kindergarten right through to those doing postgraduate work”, said Joann Lloyd, Canadian Home and School Federation spokesperson.  “The government has spent millions of taxpayers' dollars on bringing high-speed Internet access to Canadian classrooms, and our proposal would ensure that students reap the full benefits of this investment without harming the interests of copyright owners.  Past experiences involved a lengthy delay between introducing copyright amendments and addressing the needs of educational users — last time educational users waited over nine years.  Our students must be permitted to build needed Internet skills now.  Now is the time for an educational amendment to be included in reforms to copyright legislation,” she added.

The coalition urges the federal government to make a firm commitment to act quickly and address the issue of Internet access for education in upcoming copyright reform legislation. 

The education amendment is proposed by seven organizations who, in representing seven million Canadians involved in learning, are interested in advancing Canada's quality of education.

The organizations are the following:
Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC)
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC)
Canadian Alliance of Students Associations (CASA)
Canadian Home and School Federation (CHSF)
Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF)
Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA)
Copyright Consortium of the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada (CMEC)

Statements from each of the national education organizations are attached.

For further information or to arrange interviews, contact:
Chris George
Media Relations
(905) 641-5389

April 15, 2005


Gerry Brown, President of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges:  The Copyright Act must be balanced. It is absolutely essential that the forthcoming copyright legislation contain amendments relating to Internet access for educational purposes.  There is a broad consensus, representing literally millions of Canadians, in support of an educational amendment that is balanced by providing fair access to Internet materials, while respecting the rights of copyright owners and creators.

Steve Wills, Manager of Legal Affairs with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada:  “There is much in the federal government's proposed package of copyright reforms that AUCC strongly supports.  AUCC remains convinced of the importance of addressing the educational use of the Internet as part of the upcoming amendments to the Copyright Act.  There is a pressing need for clarity in this area.  Internet materials have become an integral part of teaching and learning, but routine educational activities using the Internet cause copyright infringements under the current law.”

James Kusie, National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations:  “The law must be modernized so that schools can have access to the wealth of available Internet resources and can teach students the Internet skills that are crucial in today's information world. Our laws need to serve the public interest by including an educational amendment that permits reasonable access to, and use of, Internet materials for the purposes of education, teaching, research and innovation, and the dissemination of knowledge. The laws have a direct impact on the ability of teachers and students to learn using the Internet. Students today are the first generation of Netizens to benefit from the wealth of information shared on the Net. What we are asking is for the government to provide the framework so that we can legally use on-line materials in a classroom or course of study.”

Joann Lloyd, Secretary/Treasurer of the Canadian Home and School Federation: “Now is the time to address Internet copyright issues. Canada's copyright law needs to be amended now so that teachers and students are able to use publicly available Internet material without breaking the law or facing the threat of lawsuits for copyright infringement. For students, parents, teachers, and educational authorities, the education amendment is important because under the existing law students' and teachers' routine, commonplace activities -- like downloading an image for a school project or copying text for research -- are an infringement of copyright.”

Harvey Weiner, Policy Advisor, Government and External Relations to the Canadian Teachers' Federation:  “After more than four years of consultation, further study and consultation is unnecessary. It is time for the government to legislate in the public's interest to provide Canadian students and teachers with the same access to the Internet as is available to their counterparts in the United States.”

Gord Comeau, President of the Canadian School Boards Association:  “We want the government to move forward with meaningful amendments to the Copyright Act that will bring our digital copyright law into this 21st century and place Canada on a level playing field with the rest of the world. School boards – the teachers and students – need clarity that the current law does not provide. That is why an education amendment must be part of the legislation tabled this spring. The time for consultations has passed, and the time has come for an amendment to provide educational access to the Internet.”

Nova Scotia Education Minister Jamie Muir, chair of the Copyright Consortium of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC):  “Students and teachers must have reasonable access to on-line materials to engage in an increasingly competitive digital world. Seven national education associations representing parents, teachers, students, schools and boards, postsecondary institutions and ministries/departments of education are strongly of the view that the time has come to address Canada's educational needs in a revised Copyright Act. Canada needs modern copyright legislation to address digital technologies. Canadians need to be able to harness the wealth of opportunities and information on the Internet.”