Today's Le Devoir features a noteworthy op-ed on copyright from many of Quebec's leading publishers. The gist of the op-ed is that copyright is crucial to Quebec culture, the educational exception proposed by Canadian Ministers of Education would have a devastating effect on that culture, and the Conservatives seem ready to support the education exception without any public debate.
Given the transparent efforts of the minority Conservatives to court the Quebec vote – this week alone Industry Minister Bernier gave two speeches in Montreal on economic development and the environment, while Heritage Minister Bev Oda opened an OAS conference on culture – it is worth considering how copyright reform will play in Quebec.
The working assumption is generally that culture is major issue in Quebec, that copyright is viewed as an integral part of cultural policy, and that therefore stronger copyright laws are an election winner in the province. Yet if the rumours about the contents of the forthcoming copyright bill are accurate, the Conservatives are about to fundamentally misread where the support for copyright reform lies. The bill is likely to contain two pillars – anti-circumvention legislation and the education exception (there will obviously be other provisions but these are the two issues designed to address the loudest lobby groups, namely CRIA and CMEC). Both issues are losers in Quebec.