Information Policy

LIS 604

Winter Term 2005


Instructor:      Dr. Samuel E. Trosow              

Time & Place  Wednesday 1:30-4:20 p.m. Middlesex College - Room 15a

Office Hours: NCB 259 – Thursday 1:30-4:30 p.m.

and by appointment

Telephone:     661-2111  x88498                                 



An introduction to information policy concepts and issues with which library, archival, and information science practitioners need to be familiar. The course examines the policy process and players, as well as the individual policies which have an impact on information creation and access in Canada. Policy effects are considered. Topics covered can include commodification and privatization of information, copyright, government information and freedom of information policy, broadcasting, telecommunications, and internet policy, privacy policy, cultural policies including publishing and film policies, organizational level information policy, policy theory and research.


Students who complete this course will:

  1. engage in critical and independent thinking regarding the information policy issues that affect information access and to be reflexive of the relationship between information policy, broadly defined, and professional practice. (Goal 2)
  2. demonstrate an awareness of how information policy relates to professional values and standards (Goal 2, Obj 1a)
  3. respond to global and national policy changes and developments in a spirit of intellectual inquiry (Goal 1, Obj 1b)
  4. draw valid conclusions based on sound analysis of reliable data (Goal 1, Obj. 1b, 1c)
  5. analyze major problems of the discipline and of the profession that arise from information policy developments in a spirit of creativity and critical inquiry (Goal 2, Obj. 1e)
  6. examine the relationship between public policy and organizational policy outcomes, and the purposes and goals of policy-making within libraries and information centres. (Goal 1, Obj 1f)


The objectives of the course are to:

  1. to expand student awareness of macro-level (i.e. governmental and intergovernmental) policy making and how policy outcomes ultimately affect local and institutional information policy.
  2. to promote awareness of the role of information policy as a driver of library policy
  3. to increase student awareness of the role of the library and information community as stakeholders in the policy process, and the role that individual library associations can play in policy development.
  4. to provide students an opportunity to explore particular policy areas in depth
  5. to encourage students to become involved as professional leaders in national and international information developments.


Course Content  

1.      Overview of Information Policy

2.      The Information Commons as an organizing Concept

3.      Economics of Information / Political Economy of Information

4.      Government Information / Freedom of Information

5.      Information Privacy, Data Protection & Government Surveillance

6.      Censorship,  Intellectual Freedom & the Right to Communicate

7.      Copyright & other Intellectual Property Issues

8.      International Issues: From the NWICO to the WSIS

9.      International Issues: WTO – GATS

10.  Book and Magazine Publishing Policy

11.  Cultural Policy

12.  Broadcasting Policy

13.  Telecommunications & Networking Policies

Evaluation Criteria

Short Essay:                2 @  10%

The first assignments will be in the form of short essays of approximately 3-5 pages. You will be given a specific question to respond to on January 5th and again on January 26th, and will have two weeks to complete each assignment.

Assignment #1 Due: in class on January 19th   (week 3).
Assignment #2 Due: in class on February 9th   (week 6).

Group Project:                        20%

Your group will be assigned a specific topic. The written component (10%) will be due in class on March 16th (week 10) and you will make an in-class presentation during weeks 10-12.

Term Paper:               40 %

The paper will be on a topic of your choice relevant to course themes and selected in consultation with the instructor. It should be of publishable quality, approximately 15-20 pages, and will be evaluated on literacy, organization, argument, originality, and quality of research.

Topic Selection: No later than February 16th.

Paper Plan: A working outline of your proposed final paper, indicating its topic, thesis, problem statement, with a working bibliography. To be submitted no later than March 23rd.

Final Paper Due: April 15th at 5pm.

Class participation:     20%

All students are expected to come to classes having completed the assigned readings. You will then be expected to engage in intelligent constructive participation in class discussions.

LIS 604: Information Policy

Course Outline & Reading List


Weeks 1 & 2: January 5th (no class Jan 12th)

Introduction to Information Policy


Sandra Braman. “Defining information: An approach for policy-makers,” Telecommunications Policy, 13(3): 233-242 (1989). {to be placed on GRC Reserve}

Mairead Browne. “The field of information policy: 1. Fundamental Concepts,” Journal of Information Science, 23(4): 261–275 (1997). {UWO Access via Catalogue}
Mairead Browne. “The field of information policy: 2.Redefining the boundaries and methodologies,” Journal of Information Science, 23(5): 339–351. (1997). {UWO Access via Catalogue}


Robert H. Burger, Information Policy: A Framework for Evaluation and Policy Research. Chapter 1: Information Policy in the Public Policy Arena, pp. 3-22 (1993) {to be placed on GRC Reserve}


June Lester and Wallace C. Koehler, Jr. Fundamentals of Information Studies.  Chapter 10: The Areas and Issues of Information Policy, pp. 203-219. (2003). {to be placed on GRC Reserve}


Michael Buckland. “Information as Thing,” Journal of the American Society of Information Science 42(5): 351-360 (June 1991). {reprinted at )
Sandra Braman. “Posthuman Law: Information Policy and the Machinic World” (Dec. 2002).


Week 3: January 19th

The Information Commons

First Assignment Due


Yochai Benkler, “The Political Economy of Commons,” Upgrade, 4(3):6-9 (June 2003).

David Bollier, “The Rediscovery of the Commons,” Upgrade, 4(3): 10-12(June 2003).

Nancy Kranich, The Information Commons: A Public Policy Report. (Free Expression Policy Project, 2004).



Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, 162: 1243-48 (Dec. 1968).


Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, “Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource,” Law & Contemporary Problems, 66 (1& 2): 111-145, (Winter/Spring 2003),


Week 4: January 26th

The Economics of Information and the Political Economy of Information

First Assignment Distributed


June Lester and Wallace C. Koehler, Jr. Fundamentals of Information Studies.  Chapter 8: The Economics of Information, pp. 161-78 (2003). {GRC Reserve}


Anne Branscomb, “The Economics of Information:  Public and Private Domains of Information: Defining the Legal Boundaries.”  (Adapted from the keynote address presented at the 1994 ASIS annual Meeting in Alexandria, Virginia)


Dan Schiller, “How to Think About Information,” Chap. 2 (pp. 27-43) in: Vincent Mosco and Janet Wasko, [eds.] The Political Economy of Information. (1988). {to be placed on GRC Reserve}




William Birdsall, “The Political Economy of Librarianship,” Hermes: Revue Critique 6 (2000).


J. Bradford DeLong and A. Michael Froomkin. “Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrow's Economy,” First Monday, 5(2) (February 2000).


Week 5: February 2nd

Government Information

Freedom of Information


Access to Information Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. A-1) – Sections 2, 6, 12


Alasdair Roberts. “Less Government, More Secrecy: Reinvention and the Weakening of Freedom of Information Law,” Public Administration Review 60(4): 308-320 (July/August 2000) {UWO Access via catalog}


Eugene D. Tate. “Access to Information: The Canadian Experience,” Journal of Information Science 24 (2): 75-82. (April 1998){UWO Access via catalog}


Elizabeth Dolan and Liwen Vaughan. Electronic Access to Canadian Federal Government Information: How Prepared are the Depository Libraries? .

(Other Readings tba)



Week 6: February 9th

Information Privacy, Data Protection &

Government Surveillance

Second Assignment Due


Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) (2000, c.5) – Sections 3, 4, 5, Schedule 1


Colin Bennett. “The Privacy Commissioner of Canada: Multiple Roles, Diverse Expectations and Structural Dilemmas,” Canadian Public Administration, 46(2) (Summer 2003). {to be placed on GRC Reserve}


Robert DuPelle “Will Canadian public libraries be subjected to invasive search and seizure provisions similar to those found in the U.S.A. Patriot Act if new lawful access legislation is passed?”


Electronic Frontier Canada and Electronic Frontier Foundation. Comments on Lawful Access Consultation.  (Dec. 17, 2002)


Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. Privacy and the USA Patriot Act: Implications for British Columbia Public Sector Outsourcing (October 2004)   
Read Report Summary at:  




Colin Bennett. “Information Policy and Information Privacy: International Arenas of Governance,”


Electronic Frontier Canada and Electronic Frontier Foundation. Comments on Lawful Access Consultation.  (Dec. 17, 2002)


 (Other Readings tba)


Week 7: February 16th

Censorship, Intellectual Freedom & the Right to Communicate

Topic selection for term paper due


William F. Birdsall. “A Canadian Right to Communicate?” Government Information in Canada15 (September 1998)


Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.  Internet Censorship in Public Libraries.


Canadian Library Association. Internet Service in Public Libraries - A Matter of Trust (


Steve Buckley. “Media freedom and the Internet: a communication rights


Global Campaign for Free Expression. “Statement on the Right to Communicate.” (Feb. 2003)


(Other Readings tba)


No Class February 23rd


Week 8: March 2nd

Copyright & other IP issues

Overview of Intellectual Property Policies


Copyright Act, (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-42) - Sections 2 (copyright), 3, 6, 13(1), 13(3), 13(4), 14.1, 27, 29, 29.1, 29.2, 80


Patent Act, (R.S.C. 1985, c. P- 4) – Sections 2 (invention), 27(1), 42


Trademark Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. T-13) - Sections 2 (trade-mark), 4, 20(1) 


C.C.H. v Law Society of Upper Canada [2004] 1 S.C.R. 339, 2004 SCC 13


(Other Readings tba)


Week 9: March 9th

Copyright Reform Process


Interim Report on Copyright Reform: Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (House of Commons, May, 2004) .


Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). “CIPPIC/PIAC Response to the May 2004 Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage Interim Report on Copyright Reform.(June 21, 2004).


Industry Canada. Supporting Culture and Innovation: Report on the Provisions and Operation of the Copyright Act (October 2002)

Intellectual Property Policy Directorate, Industry Canada. Copyright Policy Branch, Canadian Heritage. Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues (June 22, 2001).


 (Other Readings tba)


Week 10: March 16th

Book & Magazine Publishing Policies

Group Written Assignment Due

Group presentations


The Challenge of Change: A Consideration of the Canadian Book Industry. (House of Commons. Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, 2000). .


CLA Response to The Challenge of Change: .


(Other Readings tba)


Week 11: March 23rd   

Cultural Policies

Paper plan due

Group presentations


Herbert Schiller. “American Pop Culture Sweeps the World.” Chapter 7 in Information Inequality: The Deepening Social Crisis in America (pp. 111-128) {to be placed on GRC reserve}


Paul Audley. “Cultural Industries Policy: Objectives, Formulation & Evaluation,” Canadian Journal of Communication, 19 (3 & 4): 317 (Summer/Fall 1994). {UWO Access via Catalog}


From Script to Screen: New Policy Directions for Canadian Feature Film.  (Ministry of Canadian Heritage, 2000).


(Other Readings tba)


Week 12: March 30th

Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Network Policies

Group presentations


Marc Raboy, Influencing Public Policy on Canadian Broadcasting,” Canadian Public Administration 38(3): 411-32. {to be placed on GRC reserve}


Dwayne Winseck, “Canadian Telecommunications: A History and Political Economy of Media Reconvergence,” Canadian Journal of Communication 22(2), (Spring 1997).


Stephen D. McDowell and Cheryl Buchwald. “Public Interest Groups and the Canadian Information Highway,” Telecommunications Policy 21(8): 709-19 (Oct. 1997).


Leslie Regan Shade. "Whose Global Knowledge?: Women navigating the net,"
Development 46(1) 49–54. (March 2003, Society for International Development). {UWO Access from Catalog}


(Other Readings tba)


Week 13: April 6th

International Issues I: From NWICO to the WSIS


Robert H. Burger, Information Policy: A Framework for Evaluation and Policy Research. Chapter 2: Information Policy in the International Context, pp. 23-45 (1993) {to be placed on GRC Reserve}


Alain Modoux. “The 'digital divide' could lead to the creation of a gigantic 'cyber ghetto' in the developing countries.”


Seán Ó Siochrú. “Will the Real WSIS Please Stand-up?: The Historic  Encounter of the ‘Information Society’ and the ‘Communication Society’” Gazette - The International Journal for Communication Studies, 66 (3 &  4) (June/ July 2004).


Optional: Ulla Carlsson. “The Rise and Fall of NWICO: From a Vision of International Regulation to a Reality of Multilevel Governance,” (EURICOM Colloquium, Venice, May 2003; Information Society: Visions and Governance)


(Other Readings tba)


Week 14: April 13th   

International Issues II

Trade in Services and the GATS

Final papers due


Fiona Hunt. “The WTO and the Threat to Libraries,” Progressive Librarian 18 (Summer 2001). .


Kirsti Nilsen and Samuel Trosow. “GATS and Public Library Services.”
{to be placed on GRC Reserve}


IFLA Position on the World Trade Organization (2001). .




Kirsti Nilsen. “Information Policy and Global Trade Policy as Forces for Change in Public Educational Institutions and Research Libraries,’ in Global Issues in 21st Century Research Librarianship, Sigrun Klara Hannesdottir, ed. (NORDINFO, 2002) {to be placed on GRC reserve}


Steven Shrybman. An Assessment of the Impact of the General Agreement on Trade in Services on Policy, Programs and Law Concerning Public Sector Libraries (May 2001). .


Ruth Rikowski. “The Corporate Takeover of Libraries,” Information for Social Change 14 (Winter 2001-2002). .


(Other Readings tba)