Concerns about copyright term extensions proposed for TPP

Posted on Thu 27 October 2016 in misc

I just sent the following email to the Government of Canada's Consulting Canadians on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) email address:


As an academic librarian, software developer, and occasional author, I would like to state my opposition to the proposals contained in the TPP text that would extend the term of copyright in Canada.

Specifically, in Chapter 18: Intellectual Property, Article 18.63: Term of Protection for Copyright and Related Rights proposes a harmonized term of "the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death" for works, performances, and phonograms. This represents an additional 20 years of copyright for most works.

Should this extension be imposed upon Canadians, the number of works that will be added to the common wealth of the public domain will be reduced dramatically for our current generation of children, and significant harm will be done to the Canadian public's ability to learn from, enjoy, and build upon these works.

With the proposed 70 years of copyright protection after the creator's death, the intended beneficiaries are obviously not the creator's potential children: a term of life + 25 years would be more than sufficient for providing for children well into adulthood, even those who might have been conceived moments before the creator's death. Instead, those who will benefit are the publishers and agents who have acquired the rights to that creator's works.

As an academic librarian, the most egregious examples I see are scholarly articles which faculty have written and then assigned their copyright to publishers, who then charge individuals and institutions alike for the right to access those articles. Our society, which has been attempting to transform itself from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy, already suffers from these barriers with our existing copyright terms.

If we truly want to encourage increased knowledge, creativity, and innovation in Canada by Canadians, we should be reducing, not extending, terms of copyright. I therefore urge you to withdraw Canada's participation in the effort to harmonize and extend our terms of copyright through the TPP.


Dan Scott