Four government ministers – Day (Public Safety), Prentice (Industry), Emerson (International Trade), and Nicholson (Justice) – have issued their response to last spring's Industry Committee counterfeiting report that included 19 recommendations for reform including stronger penalties, WIPO ratification, and increased border enforcement. The letter, which interestingly does include Canadian Heritage Minister Josee Verner, avoids addressing each specific recommendation as the Committee requested, choosing instead to offer some general words of support for anti-counterfeiting measures.
The letter rightly focuses first on concerns associated with health and safety. The letter continues by noting that the Government's first step in its IPR strategy has already been taken with the passage of last spring's anti-camcording legislation. Moreover, it adds that there is ongoing inter-departmental work on strengthening IP enforcement.
Looking ahead, the letter again confirms that the DMCA is headed to Canada, stating that:
the Government, led by the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, is working towards bringing Canada's copyright regime into conformity with the WIPO Internet Treaties. We call on all parties to support the Government's efforts in this regard so as to ensure the protection of the rights of creators and the ability of all Canadians to use and enjoy copyrighted material in a fair, clear and predictable environment.
It is noteworthy that the letter speaks of "conformity" with WIPO, not ratification and that it includes some of the balanced language around both protection and use. Of course, all party support for such legislation will depend upon whether the government does more than just provide lip service to the concerns of users.
The letter concludes with some strong statements about the need for collaboration and continued vigilance. While the response is sufficiently vague as to provide the government with some flexibility, it is clear that the drumbeat for action on this file is growing louder.