In the past 24 hours, Industry Minister Jim Prentice has delayed introduction of the Canadian DMCA, faced questions about the lack of broad consultation during Question Period in the House of Comments (transcript, video), and the media has picked up the growing interest of thousands of Canadians in fair copyright (CBC, Canadian Press, National Post, Ottawa Citizen). Forty-eight hours after I posted Copyright's 10K, the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group has nearly become Copyright's 15K as it continues to expand by the minute, complete with hundreds of postings, conversations, and sample letters.
While there is now considerable celebration about the CDMCA's delay, in my view such celebration is premature. The decision to delay the bill is the right one, but it could still reappear within the next few days (indeed, Dierdre McMurdy reports that that is the hope). Even if the delay stretches into 2008, a delayed bill that does not feature a genuine copyright balance is little better than the bill that was to have been unveiled today. For those concerned with fair copyright, I believe this means that they must continue to press for balanced copyright by writing to the Ministers, their MPs, their provincial Ministers of Education, as well as to their University Presidents and school district leaders.
For the Industry Minister, there is an opportunity to turn this into a political and policy win. He has seen first hand the passion of Canadians who seek balanced copyright. He can now turn to the thousands of Canadians who have written and called over the past 10 days and invite them to participate in an open consultation process. The government should use the next six weeks to develop a consultation paper that outlines its preferred approach and invite all Canadians to comment. A winter consultation could lead to a new bill by late spring, still offering the chance to reform Canadian copyright law in 2008. While there has been considerable criticism leveled at Prentice, this is the same man who two weeks ago did the right thing on the wireless spectrum auction by putting the interests of consumers first. He now has the chance to put the interests of all Canadians first by launching a copyright consultation early next year.