Canadian Government Has Consulted on Copyright but Won't Consider How Its Law Will Be Enforced
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Thursday February 09, 2012
During yesterday's debate, several Conservative MPs emphasized that the copyright bill is one of the most consulted pieces of legislation in recent memory. For example, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore stated "this is my 12th year as a member of Parliament and I can tell her that except for the Liberal government's Bill C-2, the response to 9/11, this legislation will have had more consideration at a stand-alone legislative committee and parliamentary and public consideration with all of the tens of thousands of submissions we received from Canadians in person and in writing and the consultations we did across the country before we drafted the bill."
The government is right when it says there has been wide consultation (a recap of the 2009 copyright consultation here). The question is whether it has taken the public comments into account and conducted a full analysis of the implications of its current proposal. There is reason to believe that it has not.
Q. Liberal MP Geoff Regan said during debate of Bill C-11 that “government members have apparently been saying that it would be okay to break the new law and to circumvent digital locks. The member for Calgary Centre wrote: ‘If a digital lock is broken for personal use, it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a lawsuit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.’ In other words, he is suggesting not to worry about this, that the law can be broken and nothing would happen, that really we are encouraging consumers to break the law. What does that say about the Conservatives’ position, that they are telling Canadians to break this law that they have not passed yet?” What’s your response?
A. “Like any country, Canada has laws that all citizens must respect and obey. Bill C-11 sets out the exclusive rights of creators, including musicians, with respect to their artistic creations. Enforcing these rights in a given instance, however, is a private legal matter on which the government cannot speculate.”
While governments often refrain from commenting on active litigation that is before the courts, they must surely anticipate the likely effects of their legislative proposals. Indeed, that is precisely what the government is doing when it repeatedly claims (as it did yesterday) that the bill "make Canada an attractive location for creators, innovators and investors."
In order to determine whether the digital lock rules found in Bill C-11 strike the right balance the government must speculate - typically described as anticipate or project - how it will be enforced. The overwhelming opposition to the current draft - which includes the opposition parties, business groups, retailers, artists groups, consumers, education associations, and thousands of Canadians - is based on analysis about how the rules as drafted will be enforced. After months of debate, there is no longer any question that the current draft goes far beyond international requirements. There is no question that the 2009 copyright consultation came out strongly against the approach in the current draft and there is no doubt that the majority of what the Bill C-32 committee heard was similarly critical of the digital lock rules. In recent days, the government has heard from over 50,000 Canadians repeating their concern with the proposed approach.
If Paradis and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore have not speculated on how their digital lock rules could enforced, perhaps it is because they don't need to. They know - or ought to know - that the following scenarios are some of the possible outcomes:
This is precisely the kind of "speculation" that many groups have conducted in reaching the conclusion that the Bill C-11 digital lock rules do not strike the right balance. The proposed solution from virtually all the critics is not to dismiss legal protection for digital locks, but rather link protection to copyright infringement. That approach would solve all of the above scenarios. If enacted in its current form, the law will have an impact on the legitimate activities of millions and attempts to falsely assuage Canadians that these provisions are mostly innocuous is simply inaccurate.
Russell McOrmond said:
Eric L. said:
Rob Tiessen said:
Thursday February 09, 2012
We want to enhance competition and investment in this country, and this is why we adopted this policy back in 2008 for the AWS spectrum. Let me say that the price went down by an average of 11% since then, and we will continue this way with the 700 megahertz spectrum. We launched consultation with the industry to make sure that we enhance competition and provide better choice and better rates for our consumers.