Library and Archives Canada private deal would take millions of documents out of public domain

Source: Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen, June 12, 2013

Library and Archives Canada has entered a hush-hush deal with a private high-tech consortium that would hand over exclusive rights to publicly owned books and artifacts for 10 years….Library and Archives Canada (LAC) staff and others told about the plan have had to sign non-disclosure clauses but it isn’t clear why the process has been wrapped in such a dark cloak of secrecy.

LAC is partnering with Canadiana.org in what is being billed as The Heritage Project — digitizing 40 million images from more than 800 collections of publicly-held LAC material, much bought by Library and Archives over the years with taxpayers’ money. The documents and images includes personal papers, census data, central registries, church records, and First Nations, government and military documents….

…Canadiana, which has data centres in Ottawa and Montreal, says it will fund the project over the long term by charging for the material it digitizes but, given the federal government’s $10 million cut to LAC’s budget, is clearly sensitive to potential criticism….The plan effectively means that Canadians will have to pay twice for timely access to material they already own, Deputy NDP heritage critic Andrew Cash told the Citizen Tuesday, shortly after raising the issue in Question Period with Heritage Minister James Moore….