Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Challenges National Chamber IP Approach

As Copyright Watch recently chronicled, local Chambers of Commerce have been singing from the same songbook as Industry Minister Jim Prentice in letters to the editor on Bill C-61.  This is consistent with the national Chamber, which earlier this year formed a new lobby group to push for copyright reform and issued a press release supporting the introduction of the copyright bill – complete with local quotes – within 90 minutes of the tabling of the bill.

Notwithstanding these lobbying efforts, a crack in the coalition has emerged.  At least one chamber of commerce has decided that it wants to look at the bill with an eye to the impact on small and medium sized businesses. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce had adopted a resolution that it is hoping to get the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce to adopt seeking studies on the impact that IP legislation would have on SMEs. The concern is that SMEs would bear the burden of enforcement directed at businesses. The Hamilton chamber argues:

  • The estimates of piracy used in support of the Canadian and Ontario policies are unsupported by verifiable Canadian data;
  • Most small businesses are not aware of IP issues and would likely be at a disadvantage if action were ever taken against them on any alleged IP infringement;
  • Small businesses would have a disproportionate increase in expenses in complying with the costs that the policies would create;
  • In Canada, many large owners of IP have ‘over-reached’ the protection that IP has given them to the detriment of small businesses;
  • The proposed change in laws does nothing to favour Canadian businesses;
  • Many IP users are funded by tax dollars (i.e. education, libraries, archives) and an increase in enforcement is likely to increase their costs, which will, in turn, lead to higher taxes which disproportionately affects small business.

The Hamilton Chamber expands on each of these concerns and issues five recommendations:

  1. Verify the quantum of unlawful copying in Canada through the independent collection of statistics based on facts arising in Canada; 
  2. The impacts and benefits that any changes will have on all businesses in Canada including small businesses;
  3. The financial and administrative burden that will be created for businesses – and especially small businesses – to ensure that they can successfully and inexpensively defend unsupported allegations of infringement;
  4. A consideration of how IP enforcement regimes can – within international and national limits – favour and encourage Canadian businesses;
  5. A consideration of how IP enforcement regimes will affect the costs of educational, archival and library uses of IP in Canada and how those costs paid by public funds can be reduced.

Sources indicate that the the Hamilton Chamber will present this resolution for debate in the fall by the full Chamber movement at its annual general meeting.


  1. Wow. As a long-time Hamiltonian, I didn’t see this coming. Hopefully other Chambers will take note and follow suit.

  2. Jourdespoir says:

    Fair competition…
    Why the creators, the inventors get a monopoly of 20 years on their products? (patent)

    Why the cultural creators on the other hand get a monopoly of life + 75 years of the authors?

    In my mind, the new invention with a patent are far more useful to the society than the cultural creations…

    It’s a bit unfair for the real creator to get a 20 years while seller of dreams and entertainment get 150 years.

    IMO the copyright should not be longer than 20 years. Industry should all stand on the same monopoly rules. After 20 years, the creations is public domain and is free for all to do what they want with it. That permits the society to evolve faster, because they get less restrictions to create new content.

    I.E. Walt Disney had made so much money of Public Domain good story, that it is unjust that those same creators extend the copyright for 150 years to unjustly punished the new content creators.


  3. UK plans
    Anyone read the UK latest, making parents responsible for illegal downloading by their kids?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Our Canadian economy is heavily weighed on small to medium sized businesses. I’m glad that the HCC has decided to show some brains on this issue, something that should have happened with the business friendly Conservative Party and by Minister Prentice. How can the business community trust the Conservative Party or those responsible for Canadian Industry when it’s quite clear the questions with regards to the impact of Canadian Businesses and what impact this would have on them and our economy were not fully investigated, and the independent data bluntly ignored (all while the government had time to look into these issues)!

    I’m glad businesses are taking a very hard second look at this bill, and hope they all have a full understanding on all aspects of the copyright debate before opening their mouths in praise on a piece of legislation that will cost all Canadians dearly. I’m glad the business community in Hamilton has taken the first approach and actually looking at the issue and how it relates to them. In my opinion, more of this should have been done before offering unconditional support for C-61 minutes after release, which seems to be quite the “stupid” move on behalf of the business community.

  5. Open Source for all Goverment Software

    Maybe it’s time all software and file formats used by the Government will need to be open source?

    How about that – why should the Government continue to use software that favours one company over another?

    I wonder if the lobbyist would like open source for Goverment?