Moderator: Katherine Poole, Rotch Visual Collections, MIT
Sponsors: Public Policy Committee and International Relations Committee
Katherine Poole of the Rotch Visual Collections at MIT set the tone of the session organized to discuss public policy issues from the perspective of different cultures and national laws. ARLIS/NA was fortunate to have knowledgeable guests from Australia, Canada, and the United States to present the diverse views.
J. Margaret Shaw, Chief Librarian of the National Gallery of Australia,
Research Library led off the afternoon session with "Copyright, Intellectual
Property and Appropriation in Australia." The first part of her contribution
focused on a simplified description of the Australian Copyright Act of
1968 and its gradual transformation until the Copyright Amendment Bill
of 1999 which specifically addresses the issue of digital information.
She also described the processes of enforcement of the newly amended laws.
Ms. Shaw continued with the revelation that the rights of Aboriginal artists have been infringed both before and after the beginning of the digital age. New campaigns are mounted to point out these injustices which often occur due to the insensitivity of some Anglo people to the spiritual content of Aboriginal art.
Paul Whitney, Chief Librarian of the Burnaby Public Library discussed
the topic, "Canadian Cultural Policy: Swimming Against the Current."
His views were eye-opening to anyone from south of his border. Many Canadians
feel that there is far too much United States cultural and especially commercial
influence in their country. A major aspect of Canadian copyright
laws seems to focus on insuring that there is sufficient representation
of homegrown participation in all forms of media. For example, the
policy of parallel importation requires that magazines which may be published
in the United States but are also sold in Canada must contain a certain
percentage of Canadian coverage and advertisement, which means that two
issues of such periodicals must be published. For one who flew Canadian
Air or Air Canada to Vancouver the sensitivity to content was apparent
in the audio selections offered to passengers. Some other important
issues in Canadian copyright are briefly covered at these Web sites:
Bill C-32 and Copyright Reform in Canada. June 1996:
Copyright in Canada, July 1998
Canadian Library Assoc., Position Statement, June 1997:Bill C-32
Catherine Whenmouth, Copyright Information Officer, Copyright Technology Office, of the University of Washington, discussed "Copyrights versus Access Rights: Recent Developments in U. S. Copyright Law." Her talk highlighted the pitfalls and privileges of both the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and the Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Clearly there are adversarial forces at work in the conflict over whose rights are to be protected and what information can be provided to the public under the heading of fair use. Ms. Whenmouth emphasized that these forces were quite active during the recent CONFU debates. She emphasized that providers of information should become familiar with the Copyright Management Information (CMI) and recognize its potentially restrictive intent.
The afternoon's session made participants aware of the information war
that rages around us even as we sat in the room. It may be interesting
to note that while copyright laws differ at a national level all three
speakers agreed that there is a definite direction towards an international
concept of copyright.
University of Illinois at Chicago