Copyright not good for learning

Canadian documentaries are better known, and have won more awards, than our feature films have. Documentaries, like education, need relevant artifacts to get their message across. If every image is copyright protected it’s difficult to tell a story without paying off all of the commercial interests first. Michael Geist reports on the Documentary Organization of Canada’s recent letter to the federal government:

The letter notes the growing concern with the effect of copyright on documentary film makers, citing the survey results which found that 85 percent of film makers find copyright more harmful than beneficial and 82 percent find that the law is more likely to discourage them from making new films. The letter notes that copyright reform could be used to address these concerns, yet there are fears that it will actually make things worse. The film makers chief concerns include modifying fair dealing by expanding the current list of enumerated categories, providing film makers with the right to circumvent DRM systems if anti-circumvention legislation is introduced, avoiding a ban on devices that can be used to circumvent DRM systems, reform of the orphan works regime, simplification of copyright clearance, and providing stable funding to Canada’s archives. The letter is signed by 130 of Canada’s most prominent documentary film makers including Oscar winner Denys Arcand (indeed, Quebec film makers represent the largest group of signatories).

The same situation exists for students and teachers putting together educational media. Tools like Creative Commons Search help to find that small percentage of CC licensed work, but orphan works are a huge untapped mine for learning. Let’s see a similar letter from representatives of the educational field.