Bill Tabled to Abolish Crown Copyright

April 10, 2019

NDP MP Brian Masse (Windsor West) this week tabled Bill C-440, a Private Member’s Bill to abolish crown copyright.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to introduce my bill to amend the Copyright Act. In particular we would drop section 12, and that is “…Without prejudice to any rights or privileges of the Crown, no copyright subsist in any work that is or has been prepared or published by or under the direction of the control of Her Majesty or any other government department”.

As things stand right now, the government is a closed door when it comes to government publications, research and a number of periodicals that are published. In fact, this costs us a significant amount of taxpayers’ money. Second, it is against open government, and this is based upon a law that Canada enacted in 1921, which was based on a law from 1911 from the U.K.

Therefore, this bill would save money for taxpayers, it would provide for educators and innovators, open government and bring accountability. Most importantly, it would bring Canada in line with so many other countries that have information available for businesses or civil society and for the advancement of our nation and our country of Canada.

Masse introduced the bill at a press conference on April 9 and was joined by Amanda Wakaruk (Copyright Librarian, University of Alberta), Katherine McColgan (Executive Director, Canadian Federation of Library Associations), Julie Morin (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), Brenda Lauritzen (Canadian Association of Law Libraries) and Archivist Nancy Moretti.

“Government belongs to the people and so should its information. The fact that Canadians have to pay three times for the same information is outrageous and wasteful. It is absurd that crown copyright originates from a time when the model T was the biggest selling automobile. That car does not exist today and neither should crown copyright.”
–Brian Masse

“Crown copyright is hurting the work of our cultural memory organizations and the public they serve. It is also bolstering the democratic deficit. It needs to be abolished so we can all do our work without fear of infringement.”
–Amanda Wakaruk


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