The Struggle for Canadian Copyright
Imperialism to Internationalism, 1842-1971
University of British Columbia Press 2013
In The Struggle for Canadian Copyright: Imperialism to Internationalism, 1842-1971, Sara Bannerman narrates the complex story of Canada’s copyright policy since the mid-19th century. The book details the country’s halting attempts to craft a copyright regime responsive both to its position as a net importer of published work and to its peculiar political geography as a British dominion bordering the United States. Bannerman charts Canada’s early, largely unsuccessful effort to craft a less restrictive policy in the run up to, and aftermath of, the 1886 Berne Convention-the multilateral agreement that established the enduring framework for the international copyright system. The main obstacle, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was Britain’s insistence on a uniform and Berne-friendly policy throughout the empire. Even as those imperial constraints fell away over the first half of the 20th century, Canada increasingly aligned with powerful net exporters like France and Britain–in large part, Bannerman shows, to strengthen the country’s image as a model international citizen. The Struggle for Canadian Copyright is a story of constraint–the country’s copyright independence was never won–but Bannerman’s account also highlights the historical contingency of the restrictive norms that dominate international IP policy. A companion website includes archival documents and other materials.