Sued On Copyright, Library Seeks To Explain Copyright

The Library of Parliament, defendant in an ongoing federal copyright lawsuit, yesterday announced it will host a seminar to educate parliamentarians on copyright. The notice made no mention of the Federal Court case in which librarians admit to copying others’ work without permission or licensing fee.

The seminar Understanding Copyright For The Parliamentary Context “will provide an overview of copyright law with particular attention to issues raised in a parliamentary context,” wrote staff. “Representatives from the Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament will begin with an introduction to intellectual property law and copyright in general.”

The Library was named in a copyright suit by Blacklock’s three years ago after the publisher discovered staff knowingly copied work by cut-and-paste email to the CBC. Staff admitted the practice in a Statement Of Defence filed in Federal Court.

“As a library, we expected that a minimal amount of redistribution to clients would be permissible as is the case with our other electronic subscriptions,” Gilles Villeneuve, electronic services librarian, wrote in a 2015 email to the plaintiff.

Undisputed evidence showed Villeneuve bought a $157 password to Blacklock’s content, then confidentially distributed the publisher’s work by email. The Library at the time paid large licensing fees to other news media for content distribution including $59,337 to Sun Media; $31,392 to iPolitics; $22,052 to Bloomberg Finance LP; $18,000 to the Hill Times; and $17,676 to The Canadian Press.

Records showed a second librarian, Lindsay-Erin Beatty, also bought a single Blacklock’s password using a Google Mail account in the name “whimsylinds”. Beatty is manager of a Library unit called the Current Awareness Team “responsible for the development of the Library of Parliament’s electronic media monitoring service”.

The Library in its Statement Of Defence claimed unauthorized copying of publisher’s works is permitted under a Government of Canada Photocopying License and a provision of the Copyright Act that allows private copying of literary works for personal research purposes.

Library staff yesterday said the April 20 copyright seminar would address “questions about ownership of copyright”, and “use of copyrighted material by parliamentarians.” Invited guests were urged to submit questions in advance.

Seminar lecturers are parliamentary legal counsel Suzie Seo and Brandon Potter; Library analyst David Groves; and Élise Hurtubise-Loranger, Library general counsel. A joint parliamentary Library oversight committee is scheduled to meet April 19 for the first time in three years.

By Staff

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