Earlier this week, I posted a letter from NDP leader Jack Layton that is sharply critical of Bill C-61. The language used in the letter is apparently being used by other NDP MPs. The same appears to be true for Liberal MPs. Several people have sent me copies with only minor variations on this standard response:
Thank you for your recent e-mail outlining your opposition to the Conservative Government's new Copyright Legislation. I appreciate the time you have taken to advise me of your position.
While the Liberal Official Opposition believes that updating the Copyright Act to address rapid changes in technology is important, the bill must strike the right balance between consumers and creators. This is a highly technical bill and we need to study it carefully before we can determine exactly how we will proceed.
Like you, we are also concerned about how this bill treats technological protection measures. It is important that these provisions not take rights away from Canadians. We need wide consultation with everyone – including consumers, artists and the business community – to ensure that we properly understand all of the impacts the legislation.
Once again, the Conservatives have failed to properly consult Canadians. We want to ensure that the final bill fosters innovation, fairly compensates creators and treats consumers with respect.
While the Liberals clearly don't yet have a firm position on this bill, there are three key points here. First, the party recognizes the lack of consultation. It should seek to remedy that by standing for broad consultations in the fall that give everyone an opportunity to speak out. Second, adopting a position that digital locks "should not take away rights from Canadians" means that they should support crucial changes to the anti-circumvention provisions that restore the right to circumvent for permitted uses, including fair dealing, time shifting, and format shifting. Third, they have not yet made the connection (at least publicly), but the Liberals can point to their Bill C-60 as the starting point for crafting better balanced anti-circumvention rules.