The Hill Times runs a special op-ed (HT version (sub required), homepage version) I've written on the political challenges the government faces on copyright reform. I note that in a sure sign of an impending throne speech, copyright lobby groups are out in full force calling on the government to prioritize intellectual property protection in its fall legislative agenda. Despite efforts to put forward a united front, however, what is readily apparent to those close to the process is that copyright reform is rife with conflicts that create a significant political risk and require the expenditure of enormous political capital.
The recent revelations about a potential conflict of interest within the Canadian Heritage Copyright Policy Branch are certainly the most obvious manifestation of conflict concerns. Although perceived conflict issues in this area are nothing new, the existence of a personal relationship between the government’s head of copyright policy and Hollywood's top Canadian lobbyist at a time when the government is pursuing a copyright reform bill raises uncomfortable questions about who knew what and when within Canadian Heritage.
Yet focusing exclusively on this form of conflict would be a mistake, since conflicted agendas, policies, and stakeholders present a more treacherous minefield. These include: