While Industry Minister Jim Prentice has sought to project an air of unflappability around the outcry over the Canadian DMCA, it would appear that behind the scenes his staff is working overtime to eliminate any negative comments on Wikipedia. Prentice's Wikipedia entry has been anonymously amended multiple times over the past week with regular attempts to remove any copyright criticism (as I post this there is no reference to copyright). The IP address of most of the anonymous edits trace back to Industry Canada. For example, on May 27th someone from Industry Canada twice deleted the following:
Prentice has been responsible for developing new Canadian Intellectual Property laws akin to the DMCA in the United States, partly due to pressure from US-based advocacy groups. While he had promised to "put consumers first", the draft legislation seems to cater strictly to industrial groups and Prentice has now suggested consumer interests may not be heard for years. Indeed, Prentice has refused to talk to a group of protesters who went to his office to express their concern.
Later in the day, someone from Industry Canada added to the copyright section of the Prentice entry with:
Recent developments have shown that no such draft legislation exists and that Minister Prentice has yet to publically release any documents on the copyright issue. Minister Prentice is expected to draft a bill on copyright that will strike a balance between consumers and producers, while bringing Canada in line with current WIPO international standards.
On May 29th, the Prentice entry was changed with the heading "Controversies" switched to "Copyright." As the copyright issue heats up, there were further changes today. An entry that previously stated:
The minister is planning on introducing a bill on June 5 2008 and is not communicating with the public or the press on the bill. The minister is being heavily influenced by foreign publishers and distributers.
was deleted by someone from Industry Canada, instead substituting a comment from a prior press scrum that the bill will not be introduced until Prentice is satisfied about the right balance. The revised entry does not stop there, adding:
Prentice has been praised for his strong management of the Industry portfolio. He has been dubbed the unofficial deputy prime minister, and is seen as the strongest Minister in the Harper government. He is widely praised in both political and private circles, as he personifies experience, confidence and competence, ability and capability.
So who thinks Prentice is the strongest Minister in the Harper government personifying experience, confidence, competence, ability and capability? Someone at Industry Canada, presumably from his own staff. This part of the entry was quickly deleted.
Update: Coverage from CBC and Canadian Press, including a comment from Wikipedia suggesting a conflict of interest over the Prentice edits.
Wednesday June 04, 2008