One of the most notable aspects of the House of Commons debate on Bill C-32 thus far (debate continues today) has been the recognition by opposition MPs of the influence of the U.S. on the bill’s digital lock rules. In the opening debate, Bloc MP Carole LavallÃ©e argued:
This bill was developed for the big American film and video game companies, and digital locks meet most of their needs. For these big American and European film and video game companies, the government did a good job.
That theme continued in day two of the debate in this exchange between the NDP and the Liberals:
Mr. Jim Maloway, NDP:
The government has made the claim that it must follow the American approach to the WIPO Internet treaties and must support the digital lock measures in the bill. However, 88 countries have now ratified the WIPO treaties and only half of those 88 countries support the American approach. Does the member believe that perhaps the current government is being overly influenced by the American movie industry, business lobbyists or perhaps even American politicians to get their version of what should be a proper agreement in force in Canada with the view to having a sort of common competitive market in North America?
Mr. Pablo Rodriguez, Liberals:
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. First of all, I would say that generally speaking, the government is always a little too easily influenced by what happens in the United States, especially during the previous administration, the Bush administration. The issue of digital locks is interesting, because there are various options and various ways to respect our treaties. We think it is acceptable, however, but not in an absolute way. There must be some kind of reasoning behind it, a certain limit. For instance, when people buy a certain product, there must be a way for them to make a copy for their personal use without violating the copyright.
The discussion brings to mind Blayne Haggart’s article in From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda. Haggart examines the copyright systems in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, concluding that each country has considerable latitude in establishing its own laws. However, he quotes a former Industry Minister chief of staff reflecting on past Canadian copyright reform efforts as follows:
The Prime Minister’s Office’s position was, move quickly, satisfy the United States and both of our positions were, politically speaking, â€œListen, there have been mistakes made in the DMCA, there are a list of exceptions that have been created by court, can we not have DMCA lite?â€ And they said: â€˜We don’t care what you do, as long as the US is satisfied.”