Ottawa Citizen on Bill C-60

The first major newspaper masthead editorial on Bill C-60 is out and it is a good one (letters to the editor can be sent from here). The lead editorial in today's Ottawa Citizen, which is titled "Copyrights and Wrongs", leaves little room for doubt about its perspective.

The editorial begins by stating:

"Proposed changes to the federal Copyright Act, if adopted as law, would punish legitimate users of copyrighted material without making much of dent on illegal file sharing."

The discussion that follows supports the link between anti-circumvention and copyright infringement, noting that "peer-to-peer networks that connect file-swappers' computers have legitimate uses; trying to shut them all down because some (even many) people use them to trade copyrighted material would have been folly, not to mention hopeless."

It also expresses concern for user interests, concluding that "lost in the middle…may be the customers themselves." The paper is troubled by the potential loss of fair dealing rights as well as the inequity of bundling copy-protection, anti-circumvention legislation, and the private copying levy.

Some may quibble with its characterization of anti-circumvention provisions and some fair dealing rights given the bill's link between circumvention and copyright infringement. However, I think the concern that locked down content, when combined with uncertainty over whether fair dealing covers a certain use, could indeed lead to a chill in uses of materials that are currently permitted under Canadian Copyright law. More generally, the editorial's focus hits the right issue as the paper obviously wants to ensure that user interests are fairly and fully addressed by the new bill.

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