An essential, current complement to earlier works like Michael Geist’s collection In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law (2005) and Lisa Gitelman’s Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture (2006), and more recent considerations such as Blayne Haggart’s Copyfight: The Global Politics of Digital Copyright Reform (2014)—as well as, for those facing or embracing academic realities, the current Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications—Rosemary J. Coombe, Darren Wershler, and Martin Zeilinger’s collection Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian Culture Online offers a panoramic and multi-perspectival overview of key issues impacting the ownership of digital cultural materials and the practices used to create, engage with, and share them in Canada and beyond. Characterized at a summer conference, informally and not wholly inaccurately, as “fair dealing meets enlightened self-interest in the Canadian cultural sector,” the book has a [End Page 378] less pithy argumentative summary on its opening page: “only a dynamic, flexible, and equitable approach to cultural ownership can accommodate the astonishing range of ways that we create, circulate, manage, attribute, and make use of digital cultural objects,” one balancing “the rights of copyright holders with the public’s need to engage with copyright-protected materials” across the substantial gap that currently exists between practices of engagement and law.
The issues treated in Dynamic Fair Dealing deeply impact those who might read a review such as this one and those far, far beyond those in this group; the collection offers informed opinions and valid, varied perspectives for consideration. Reflecting work carried out closer to 2010 than to today—as is often the way within current print publication and production cycles—it nonetheless has considerable contemporary currency. Following a concise, detailed introduction by the editors that provides the history both of pertinent issues in our country and internationally and of the collection itself in a manifesto entitled “Robust Culture of Fair Dealing Online,” the collection is divided into three core sections, each with substantial clusters of articles. An afterword includes two larger contemplations on its central matter: a reflective overview of the collection’s contents complementing the introduction’s volume survey (Laura J. Murray’s “Deal with It”) and a look at intellectual property’s somewhat contradictory basis in circumstances of law relating to ownership of material things and capitalist modes of production (Darin Barney).
In the first section, “The Canadian Copyright Context,” providing foundations in this topic, the matters of rights, duty, and practice are treated by Bita Amani, concerning freedom of expression, and Marcus Boon, focusing on germane activities and practices. Considerations of the Canadian cultural public domain are addressed in pieces on policy rationale and questions of intended outcomes (Carys J. Craig), on useful analogues with material legality related to orphan works (Ren Bucholz), and on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in a situation where public investment and public right is not well served (Kyle Asquith’s “Publicly Funded, Then Locked Away”). Understandings of pertinent infrastructure are offered by John Maxwell, discussing users’ rights and the commons in the framework of licences and authorship; Eliot Che, detailing the notions of openness and open source in computational technological development; Ira Wagman and Peter Urquhart, considering geo-locational specificity in digital cultural distribution that closes off rather than opens access; and Steve Anderson, contrasting the vision of net neutrality with the reality of digital fiefdoms. A dedicated subsection on experimental pedagogy and diversity addresses the need-based pragmatics of those with perceptual disabilities (J.P. Udo and Deborah Fels), followed by the teaching perspectives of Matt Soar (on issues and advantages of remix in the immersive classroom) and Alec V. Couros (situating fair dealing via the innovative practices of the active, networked teacher). [End Page 379]
“Mediations,” the second major section, begins with a cluster on digital publishing led by Rowland Lorimer, who examines academic research in the historical and recent context of open access publishing, and a piece on the reasoning behind the fair dealing button and its provision...