Rumours tonight indicate that the government has again decided to delay introducing the Canadian DMCA. With the House of Commons off next week and the budget coming the following week, if this is true it would appear that there will be no copyright legislation for at least another month (assuming there is no election). It is impossible to pinpoint any one reason for the delay – the public outcry through Facebook, the treaty issue, the opposition from education, the impact of copyright on some MPs electoral chances, the privacy concerns, the outcry from artists groups, the op-eds, and the creation of a powerful business coalition calling for balanced copyright may have all played a role.
The key question is now is whether the government accepts that it is not the communication strategy that needs fixing, but rather it is the bill itself. I would argue that there is a deal to be had that would leave virtually all stakeholders sufficiently satisfied to garner broad support (or at least limit the heated and potentially costly opposition). A bill that implements WIPO by rendering circumvention an infringement only where it occurs for infringing purposes, the introduction of a more flexible fair dealing provision, the establishment of a notice-and-notice system for infringing content, and the creation of intermediary protection for third party content could serve as the foundation for a forward-looking package that meets consumer needs, business demands, and U.S. pressure. Over the past 10 weeks we have witnessed the passion and interest of thousands of Canadians on the copyright issue. The government may have heard enough to hold off on a Canadian DMCA. Let's hope it uses this opportunity to consult and build broad support for a copyright solution that serves Canadian interests.