Focus on copyright issues in academia at Congress 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blayne Haggart, Assistant Professor, Political Science, Brock University

Copyright laws affect almost every aspect of academics’ professional lives, from limiting how much of a book we can put in a course pack to allowing journals to put our (mostly publicly-funded) research behind paywalls. It affects how we teach, research and publish, to say nothing of tuition fees and university budgets.

Although copyright law is complex, the issues are straightforward.

Where should Canada draw the line between protection and limiting copying, and the need to have knowledge communicated as widely as possible? What should Canadian copyright look like, if we want to encourage Canadian scholars to create and communicate in a 21st century digital world?

Congress 2014’s Copyright and the Modern Academic series — held in conjunction with several associations — is an attempt to get to the heart of these questions via three debates involving Canada’s leading copyright experts, from all sides of the issue. Each debate will focus on one key component of Canadian copyright policy as it affects Canadian scholars.

On May 25, Sam Trosow of the University of Western Ontario will discuss what the changing “fair dealing” and “user rights” legal landscape will mean for our ability to access knowledge in the classroom and beyond.

On May 28, the University of Ottawa’s Michael Geist, probably Canada’s most well known copyright expert, will debate publisher Glenn Rollans over the question “Should Open Access be the primary publishing model for Canadian academic and research publishing?” This is a particularly important issue given that journal subscription fees are so high that even Harvard University claims it can no longer afford to pay.

On May 29, the series concludes with a debate over the future of Access Copyright collection society. It will feature Roanie Levy, Access Copyright’s executive director, and Ottawa lawyer and copyright expert Howard Knopf.

We chose the debate format in order to make the issues as engaging and accessible as possible. Copyright affects all scholars, so all scholars should be involved in the copyright debate. This series is a first step toward fostering that engagement.


Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2014