Government to Re-Introduce US-Style Copyright Bill

Prime Minister Harper has told his cabinet to ignore extensive public consultation on copyright reform and re-introduce a US-style bill that would curtail and criminalize fair-use rights for software and digital content.

By RTH Staff
Published May 06, 2010

In 2008, the Canadian Federal government introduced Bill C-61, which would have established an American-style copyright system in Canada. Among its measures the bill would have made it a criminal offence to distribute or "make available" copyrighted content or to circumvent DRM on software or consumer devices, and limited an individual's rights to use, save, copy and modify software or other protected content or to maintain privacy on shared data networks.

The bill died on the order paper when the Government dissolved Parliament and called the 2008 election, but the Conservative Party promised to re-introduce a copyright bill.

Last year, the Government launched a broad consultation on copyright issues and encouraged public feedback so that new legislation might find a better balance between the rights of content producers and the rights of citizens and consumers.

We should have known better than to trust that the Conservatives had suddenly developed an authentic taste for openness and transparency.

Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Law Professor and a tireless advocate for sane intellectual property law, reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ordered his Cabinet to re-introduce a C-61 style bill, and to hell with all that public consultation.

The government couldn't reach consensus between Industry Minister Tony Clement, who has argued for changes to the bill to reflect the public consultation, and Heritage Minister James Moore, who wanted the government to stick to its guns and roll out a US-style bill; so Harper has dismissed the public consultation and defaulted to the latter.

With mounting pressure from the U.S. - there have repeated meetings with senior U.S. officials in recent weeks - the PMO sided squarely with Moore's vision of a U.S.-style copyright law. The detailed provisions will be negotiated over the coming weeks by the respective departments, but they now have their marching orders of completing a bill that will satisfy the U.S. that comes complete with tough anti-circumvention rules and no flexible fair dealing provision.

Geist calls on Canadians to write letters - paper-and-pen letters - and mail them to your MP, with copies to Prime Minister Harper, Industry Minister Clement, Heritage Minister Moore, and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff. Letters to elected officials are free - all this will cost you is time.

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON
K1A 0A2

The Honourable Tony Clement
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa ON
K1A 0H5

The Honourable James Moore
House of Commons
Ottawa ON
K1A 0A6

The Honourable Michael Ignatieff
House of Commons
Ottawa ON
K1A 0A6

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By Bob Innes (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2010 at 01:22:21

I just listened to a podcast interview with Howard Knopf who described how Canadian copyright is actually stronger that American, contrary to what lobbyists are telling everyone. So why worry about adopting US thinking? Canadian schools but not American pay copyright for your kids to read books, see movies, etc. Proliferation of copyright fee harvesters in Canada. Excessive copyright lifespan which usually only benefits corporations instead of the artist. Small businesses in US are exempt. Parody is not allowed. Canadian laws are so tight that technology in delayed getting here. In fact, some examples seemed rather anal, although I'm sure there are lofty sounding reasons and maybe a bit of reality in our smaller market. Apparently all this fee grabbing yields very little actual benefit for the artist, which is the original intent, no?

I'm not sure if the podcast is on CBC or TVO but here is a link to the original blog.


This article wants me to write all and sundry and sort of assumes I already know what is at stake - just seems to be anti American screed. I guess the main issue is allowing some kind of fair use. I've heard a lot of arguments over the years as to why the music industry paranoia is misplaced, that allowing kids to copy songs or games actually improves artists' overall prospects, but who am I to say?

The one thing I'm fairly clear on is that we must defend so called net neutrality and openness in general.

Can somebody chime in here and tell us what its all about.


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