UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian copyright legislation and archival material Andrews, Christina Ruth


This thesis analyses the nature and common law history of copyright, highlights the problematic aspects of the current Canadian legislation with respect to archival material, proposes revisions to the law which would take into account the special nature of this material, and provides some suggestions to archivists who have to deal with the copyright dilemmas encountered in the daily, routine administration of an archival institution. Copyright legislation has traditionally grouped archival and library material under one section on special exemptions, notwithstanding the fact that archival material has characteristics which dictate a treatment fundamentally different from that of library material. Therefore, this thesis focuses on copyright as it relates specifically to archival material in order to present recommendations for its adequate treatment under the copyright law. This is not a legal paper, and does not presume to give an exhaustive legal study of all of the ramifications of copyright legislation. It is intended as a review of those copyright issues which are of special interest to archivists. Because Canada derives its common law tradition from Great Britain and is often influenced by American legislation, the earlier British legislation and more recent copyright legislation in the United States and Great Britain are studied and compared to the present Canadian legislation. Because legal trends generally first appear in court decisions before they become codified in statute, decisions found in recent case law, as well as their discussion in current legal literature are examined. The official recommendations which have been made to the Canadian government for the revision of copyright law are also analyzed. It is concluded that the Canadian statute must be revised to reflect the unique nature of archival material. Archival documents are not created for sale, distribution, display, or publication. They are the instruments of transactions, natural by-products of practical activities, means to purposes; they lack the autonomy of final products, and are non-commercial by nature. This thesis recommends that a separate piece of copyright legislation for archival material be introduced to deal effectively with these unique characteristics.

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