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Changes in Canada's Copyright Laws

In late April, Heritage Minister Sheila Copps announced a new tariff on blank casette tapes. The tariff was proposed to help reimburse artists for the revenue lost by illegal copying of their recorded work. It is estimated that illegal copies of musical recordings cost artists millions each year.

This proposal is part of an overall review of Canada's copyright legislation. It is one of two provisions in the proposed law which could have a serious impact on blind people.

The other is a proposal which would require copyright fees to be paid to authors whenever more than one copy of their work is produced in alternative format. Since libraries would need more than one copy for circulation, and since the cost of production for alternative formats is considerably higher than the cost of print production, these copyright proposals would pose an extreme hardship on producers of books for the blind.

At this writing, the copyright bill has passed second reading and been assigned to committee. The NFB:AE has prepared the following position statement and submitted it to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage Chairman Chapters and individual members have been asked to send their comments to the NFB:AE national office. The statement, along with the comments we receive, will be the basis for NFB:AE testimony at parliamentary hearings later this Fall.

The chairperson of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (the committee to which the Canadian Bill has been assigned) is Clifford Lincoln of Montreal.

Other committee members are:

Vice-Chairmen: Gaston Leroux and Pat O'Brien Jim Abbott, Guy H. Arsenault, Hugh Hanrahan, Janko Perie, Jack Iyerak Anawak, Mauril Belanger, Jean-Paul Marchand, Beth Phinney.

Associate Members:

Robert Bertrand, Simon de Jong, John English, Georgette Sheridan, Jan Brown, Pierre de Savoye, Rey D. Pagtakhan, Monte Solberg, John Bryden, Stan Dromisky, Louis Plamondon.

You can help by contacting members of this committee and your own member of parliament and letting them know that the information needs of blind persons must be taken into account in any amendments to the copyright law.