However, the decision to leave the digital lock rules unchanged remains the bill’s biggest flaw and given the widespread opposition to the approach makes a mockery of Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore’s insistence that the bill reflects the public support. Yesterday, Moore defended the approach:
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Robert Goguen argued that “if we do not have locks, it will wipe out the industry.”
Both comments demand a response. As Moore surely knows, the Bill C-11 approach on digital locks goes far beyond the requirements needed to respect international law or comply with WIPO. There are dozens of countries that have implemented digital lock rules with more flexibility than the Canadian approach. Further, a review of the creation of the WIPO Internet treaties demonstrates that a more flexible approach is wholly consistent with their spirit and intent. As for claims that no locks will wipe out the industry, note that Canadian digital music sales have now grown faster than U.S. sales for the past six consecutive years, all without digital lock legislation.
The reality is that the digital lock rules were overwhelmingly opposed as part of the 2009 national copyright consultation and generated strong opposition from opposition political parties, business groups, creator associations, consumer groups, and education representatives. During the committee process both the NDP and Liberals proposed numerous amendments to the digital lock rules, all of which were defeated. Yesterday, the Green Party’s Elizabeth May proposed further amendments (May cited me in a tweet on the proposed amendments, but my help on the digital lock rules was largely limited to pointing to my public submission to the Bill C-32 committee). Those amendments are also likely to be defeated, creating yet one more lost opportunity to amend a bill that seems destined to pass in much the same form as when it was introduced in June 2010.