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
The Honourable Tony Clement
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
The Honourable James Moore
House of Commons
The Honourable Michael Ignatieff
House of Commons
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