Prentice’s Plan For a Decade-Long Delay of Consumer Copyright Concerns

If the introduction of a Canadian DMCA were not bad enough, sources now indicate that Industry Minister Jim Prentice plans to delay addressing the copyright concerns of individual Canadians for years.  Rather than including consumer concerns such as flexible fair dealing, time shifting, format shifting, parody, and the future of the private copying levy within the forthcoming bill, Prentice will instead strike a Copyright Review Panel to consider future copyright reforms.  Modeled after the Telecom Policy Review Panel, the CRP will presumably take a year or two to consult Canadians on various copyright issues.  In all likelihood, the government will then take another year or two to consider the recommendations, another year to propose potential reforms, another year or two to consult on those proposals, and another year or two to finally introduce legislation.  Given that Canada has historically only passed major copyright reform once every ten years, Prentice will be in his early 60s and likely collecting his Member of Parliament pension by the time Canadians see copyright reform that addresses fair use.

While a consultation is a good idea, the government should be consulting on all copyright matters rather than caving now to U.S. demands while leaving Canadians consumers, educators, and other stakeholders out in the cold.  The Industry Minister claimed last month to "put consumers first", yet his copyright plan represents a stunning abdication of his responsibility to represent the Canadian public interest.  As the protests mount over his Canadian DMCA and his attempt to sidetrack consumer copyright concerns, Prentice should acknowledge the public outrage, hold off introducing the Canadian DMCA, and look for plan B.  That would optimally mean conducting a broad public consultation (or striking a CRP with a full copyright review mandate) before introducing legislation.  Alternatively, a revised bill could be introduced in February or March that better reflects the copyright balance by addressing consumer concerns now rather than in ten years time.


  1. This is beyond appalling. I have written my MP Peggy Nash, although she seems to be going for the NO vote regardless. For this government to consult with a foreign ambassador and mainly foreign business entities while failing to consult the citizens he represents and work for is insulting and undemocratic. This is not what Canada stands for, if Dion wants to make this a battle of ideologies, a US ideology vs a Canadian one for the upcoming election this is a perfect flash-point. I will be writing his office as well encouraging him to stand up for Canadian sovereignty and not for multi-national corporations or foreign governments when considering Canadian law and policy.

    I refuse to let my country take that first step down the this slippery slope, we’ve seen the evidence of this type of approach south of the border, it’s an unmitigated failure, which is even admitted by the one of the original architects of the US DMCA…

    So to recap, we’ll adopt a failed US law here in Canada instead of a well thought out Canadian solution, and then after ramming this legislation through under cover of Christmas (despicable US style politics) we as citizens of this country will have the opportunity to have out voices heard after the fact to try and repair the wrong(s) that have been done? This is ridiculous, governing backwards from a manufactured problem to a solution, in upwards of 10 years?!?! This government is not my government, this government is NOT Canadian at all. Get them out.

  2. Someone in Ottawa says:

    Good luck
    Considering that the Liberal Party wanted C-60(which we also panned before it could be passed), replacing the New Conservatives with that bunch will be no better since we’ll likely be dealing with the same headache for a third time down the line.

  3. Time For An ELECTION
    This is beyond shameful.

    How a MINORITY government can so blatantly ignore the WILL OF THE PEOPLE without even so much as passing public consultation should signal every Canadian it’s time for an election.

    This issue is TOO important for the future of fair-use, free speech, education, you name it. Canada’s legislation MUST be a MADE-IN-CANADA solution. PERIOD.

    Seems that rotten stinky pond water that’s infected virtually every nook and cranny of USA politics, business and public debate has spread North. We MUST STOP IT NOW!

  4. What happened to the 2001 consultation?

  5. Russell McOrmond says:

    2001 Consultation
    Good question – while the vast majority of submissions and people who spoke opposed the ratification of the 1996 WIPO treaties, both the Liberal and Conservative governments pushed ahead anyway.

    This isn’t a partisan issue. It will come down to individual MPs in individual ridings. The NDP are protecting the rights of independent creators and other Canadians because they have an independent musician (Angus) as part of their caucus. We need the same thing to happen with all parties in the house: MPs with actual experience in this subject matter.

  6. All that trying to pass copyright reform without due consideration to fair use will do is create criminals in a plethora of situations nobody would have been damaged anyways (ie, copying for personal and private use, and many others). Personal and private copying, as well as other fair uses *NEEDS* to be protected, or else simply telling your friends about the movie you saw last weekend would be copyright infringement… heck, simply _REMEMBERING_ the movie you saw last weekend would be copyright infringement. Whether or not it would be enforced like this is irrelevant to the issue. These extreme examples should not even be on the map of copyright infringement, and it’s ludicrous to try to pass a law that is general enough to technically include them. Trying to reword the law to exempt such extreme examples would only complicate the laws and even if they did that, there would still be a plethora of other absurd illustrations that the lawmakers didn’t happen to think of.

  7. Marc Dufour says:

    For now, it is not yet on the parliamentary agenda, but one can check it at:

    [ link ]

  8. the6ofpopes says:

    Even if they pass this bill it’s still nothing more than words written on paper. A law only becomes enforceable when it’s been tested in the courts. The likely hood of it surviving a Charter challenge is minuscule to say the least, the same is true of virtually all our copyright laws in Canada.

    Then again, lawyers in this country never seem to challenge the validity of laws, they instead try to exploit them through interpretation.

  9. I wrote my MP, Ken Dryden over a week ago on this issue. The Harper government’s willingness to implement such an unfair set of copyright forms is inexcusable. Will this issue alone be enough to trigger an election? I doubt it. We can only hope the other parties will defeat the Bill. I would like to think that the people who read this site, and write comments, could pool our collective resources and work together in defeating this worrisome legislation.

  10. disgruntled american
    the6ofpopes – that’s a huge part of the problem down here. Its expensive to challenge the US DMCA. Loose interpretation of a vague, overreaching law has brought DMCA lawsuits from all sorts of odd places. The garage door opener company using the anti-circumvention clause to sue a maker of universal remotes stands out for its complete absurdity.

    Don’t let this happen to Canada, too.

  11. supportive american says:

    Unfortunately we have already lost here in America but it is not too late for you guys! Hopefully your government will see reason instead of just accepting the legal bribery we have in America – lobbyist.