Ever since the government decided to delay Canadian copyright reform last December, Industry Minister Jim Prentice has relied on the same talking point – "When (Canadian Heritage Minister Josee) Verner and I have reached a consensus and we're satisfied, we will introduce a bill." On Wednesday Prentice was asked about the copyright bill and he again refused to speculate on timing and reiterated the usual talking point. With only a couple of weeks left in the spring session, however, the media took the non-response to be an indication that the bill is delayed again. According to the Canadian Press, Canadians will have to wait a few more months for the copyright bill (the article also contains an astonishing demand from the Entertainment Software Association to force ISPs to snoop on their customers).
While I think this is the right thing to do – I wrote in the Hill Times this week about the merits of consulting this summer and immediately tabling the WIPO Internet treaties for debate – I'm not so sure that this is what will happen. The general chatter (confirmed by Industry Committee Chair James Rajotte last month) is that a bill will be introduced before the House breaks for the summer, likely in the last week of May or the first week of June. My guess is that bill will still mirror the DMCA on the key anti-circumvention provisions but provide Canadians with a few teasers in the hope that they ignore the disasterous pro-DRM provisions. Prentice will magically declare a consensus achieved, though business groups, artists, educators, consumer groups, and thousands of Canadians will be left to wonder why their concerns were ultimately trumped by U.S. pressure and ignored by a Minister who has professed to put consumers first.
Update: The ESAC writes to advise that CP misunderstood its position. It is not the ESAC's position that copyright be "strengthened to allow Internet service providers to monitor high-speed downloads and shutdown transfers containing unauthorized copies of games and other files."