Looking Back to the Future-Creators and Cultural Policy in the Era of Free Trade: A Commentary

By Crean, Susan | Journal of Canadian Studies, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview
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Looking Back to the Future-Creators and Cultural Policy in the Era of Free Trade: A Commentary


Crean, Susan, Journal of Canadian Studies


The author of this article outlines how public funds and interest in Canadian cultural policy decreased during the financial cuts of the 1990s, resulting in the decline of the role of public enterprise and regulation in the area of cultural policy. The article goes on to examine the impact of international treaties such as the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) on cultural policy in Canada. The author considers how Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are affected by the TRIPs, arguing that the stricter enforcement of IPR was instigated by transnational businesses and corporations who are themselves Intellectual Property (IP) holders and are anxious to stem the losses due to piracy around the world. It was created with their concerns in mind, and specifically excludes measures (such as moral rights) of prime concern to creators. These corporations acquire rights by employing creators or by acquiring IPRs, and they often infringe on the rights of individual creators of IP. The issue of copyright on the Internet is another example of the dilemmas considered in this discussion of how international IP regulations fail to serve the individual creator or to protect the cultural sovereignty of the nation. The article concludes by emphasizing the need and opportunity for new participation and directions as the traditional concepts and approaches to cultural policy are challenged by technical and political changes.

L'auteure de cet article relive la facon dont les fonds publics et l'interet pour les politiques culturelles canadiennes ont connu une decroissance suite aux coupures financieres des annees 1990, ce qui a entraine le declin du role de l'entreprise et de la reglementation publiques dans les politiques culturelles. L'article poursuit en examinant les repercussions des traites internationaux comme l'Accord de libre-echange (ALE), l'Accord de libre-echange nord-americain (ALENA) et l'Accord sur les aspects des droits de propriete intellectuelle qui touchent au commerce (ADPIC) sur les politiques culturelles au Canada. L'auteure examine comment les droits de propriete intellectuels (DPI) sont geres par l'ADPIC, et soutient que l'application plus stricte des DPI signifie que les entreprises, elles-memes detentrices de proprietes intellectuelles (PI), tendent a transgresser les droits des createurs individuels de proprietes intellectuelles. En d'autres mots, les entreprises gerent et controlent la PI creee par les individus employes. La question des droits d'auteur sur l'Internet est un exemple du dilemme et des questions actuels examines dans le tours de cette discussion sur la fagon dont la reglementation internationale concernant la PI ne peut servir les personne ou proteger la souverainete culturelle d'une nation. L'article conclut en soulignant le besoin et l'occasion qui en decoule de prevoir de nouveaux modes de participation et de nouvelles orientations alors que les changements Cultural policy has had a chequered career in Canada. Although it has a long history, it only recently has been recognized as a separate and discrete area of public policy. This occurred in 1971 when Gerard Pelletier, Secretary of State in the Trudeau Cabinet, introduced the term "cultural policy," and with it a strategy of "democratization and decentralization" aimed at making Canadian culture more accessible to Canadians and national institutions like the CBC more regionally responsive. Of course, federal action in support of the arts dates back much farther, at least as far as 1888 when the National Gallery was founded. The government's interest in culture, particularly the powerful new communications media introduced early in the twentieth century, is long-standing and can be traced through the passage of the Canadian Copyright Act in 1924, the creation of Crown corporations like the NFB and the CBC in the 1930s, the establishment of the Canada Council in the 1950s and of the CRTC and Telefilm in the 1960s.

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