Many bloggers have lamented Bill Patry's decision to put an end to his invaluable blog. The blog has been a daily read for many and will be sorely missed. Patry points to two reasons – the inability of some readers to separate his personal opinion from the views of his employer (Google) and that the current state of copyright law is too depressing leaving the blog with a distinctly negative tone. The current state of copyright – particularly copyright reform – is depressing. Whether the ongoing secret ACTA negotiations, the stalling of a WIPO Development Agenda in Geneva, or lobbying pressures for domestic reforms, copyright law is increasingly unrecognizable. In a Canadian context, as a I work through the 61 reforms to C-61 project it is discouraging to see just how one-sided Canadian copyright law could become if the bill becomes law.
That said, I think (at least in Canada) there is reason for optimism. The Canadian DMCA may be awful, but the continuous negative reaction to the bill suggests that many Canadians and some politicians are awakening to the importance of the issue and of the need to strike the right balance. Over the past month, the local Fair Copyright for Canada chapters have genuinely taken on a life of their own with wikis, regular meetings, and many meetings with MPs. When MPs state that the issue ranks in the top three among constituent correspondence, hold town hall meetings, post pictures of themselves meeting with constituents concerned with fair copyright, or send letters that demonstrate awareness of the concerns and the need for balance, I say there is reason for optimism. Patry notes that copyright law's "principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to supress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners." That sounds like a description of Bill C-61 today. I remain convinced that it need not be the law tomorrow.