The Copyright Pledge – 2008 Election Edition

Unlike the 2006 election campaign, when copyright reform issues generated political attention in the Toronto riding of Parkdale-High Park, the current campaign has featured local discussions (here, here, here) but has yet to find its "copyright moment."  That is not to say that copyright has been entirely absent – copyright concerns have arisen in the context of political advertising with claims of Conservative copyright infringement serving as a useful reminder of the restrictions under the current law.  Moreover, the absence of copyright discussion from the red-hot culture funding fight demonstrates how little political payoff there is for unbalanced copyright reform as the same groups that applauded C-61 are now among the Conservatives' fiercest critics (ACTRA – before, after; CIRPA – before, after).

With several weeks left in the campaign, there is still a chance to build on the recent emergence of a strong voice for fair copyright in Canada.  I have crafted the following 2008 copyright pledge:

Will you commit to a balanced approach to copyright reform that reflects the views of all Canadians by pledging:

1.    To respect the rights of creators and consumers.

2.    Not to support any copyright bill that undermines or weakens the Copyright Act’s users rights.

3.    To fully consult with Canadians before introducing any copyright reform bill and to conduct inclusive, national hearings on any tabled bill.

While I certainly hope for more from copyright reform (see my fair copyright principles), I believe this a balanced starting point that respects the concerns of all stakeholders and provides a reasonable path toward reform.  If you agree, there are at least three things you can do.  First, urge all political parties to agree to the pledge.  Second, raise the issue with your local candidates – attend a town hall meeting or debate, pose the question if a candidate knocks at your door, or send an email to all the candidates in your riding.  Third, email your copyright question to  There are still 18 days left in the campaign which provides plenty of time to ensure that fair copyright concerns are heard before election day.

Update: My initial posting asked parties (not candidates) to "sign on to" the pledge. As noted in the comments, a candidate cannot legally "sign a written document" that would incorporate the pledge.  Of course, no one is asking either parties or candidates to sign anything.  In the same manner that parties have promised to increase arts funding or introduce anti-spam legislation, they can certainly commit to the copyright approach described above. 

Update II: In response to several requests, a French language version of the pledge:

Vous engagerez-vous dans une approche équilibrée de la réforme sur le droit d'auteur qui reflète les opinions de tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes en promettant:

1. de respecter les droits des créateurs et des consommateurs

2. de ne pas supporter tout projet de loi sur le droit d'auteur détruisant ou diminuant les droits des utilisateurs face à la Loi sur le droit d'auteur

3. De consulter pleinement les Canadiens et Canadiennes avant d'introduire toute réforme sur le droit d'auteur et de tenir des audiences nationales inclusives sur tout projet de loi proposé.


  1. ummm
    ya I thought this pledge was a great idea.. however I have just been informed:

    it is illegal for candidates to sign a pledge. Section 550 of the Election Act states: “No candidate shall sign a written document presented by way of demand or claim made on him or her by any person or association of persons, between the issue of a writ and polling day, if the document requires the candidate to follow a course of action that will prevent him or her from excercising freedom of action in Parliament, if elected, or to resign as a member if called on to do so by any person or associated persons”

    soo only ask them to “agree” to it not sign anything

  2. All that is tha taint.

  3. Michel Donais says:

    I\m wondering again…
    Last time we had an election, majority or minority, immediately after the Conservatives won, they made sure to pass as many legislations as possible, many that were not unanimous.

    Now with this election, there are many contested bills in study, including C-61. I wouldn\’t be so surprised they want to do exactly the same with all these C-61, C-484 and C-10. Let say we have another minority, imagine the first day they can enact such legislation, they are sending all these as votes of confidence… at that point, who would start another political campaign?

    That would certainly explain the unexpected election. That way, instead being demolished on these important topics by the opposition and sent into election immediately, they get their mandate back, and then leave the bad press to the opponents. It would explain why they were in a hurry to finalize these bills, then take a pause, then call a new election. This is why I am not hoping for the best on such pledge.

    I totally agree the 3rd point should be mandatory. I do believe large associations have their words to say, but on such level, everyone would be affected. More importantly, right now, most people in Canada would have done something illegal on that bill at least once in the past years, meaning they could potentially be arrested. That\’s what I call a lot of implication.

    (Sorry if my thoughts are blurry this morning, way too many things to think, and going to work in 5 minutes 😉 )

  4. The Conservatives look set to win a majority. As their candidates aren’t even allowed to appear in public, never mind speak to anyone, my guess is C-61 will be reintroduced, probably with a few small fixes, and no major changes.

  5. What a dumb law that protects big partie
    So who made the dumb law that says they can’t sign a pledge and who do we fire for that.

    Sounds a might bit undemocratic and it would be something that people could hold a candidate too. Something that might make the democracy work instead of that FOLLOW the LEADER mentality THAT HAS GOT US HERE.

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  7. Conservatives Continue SLIDE in the poll
    to the noob above the neo cons are not looking even close ot a majority more like they have been slowly sliding poll after poll
    repeat after me SLIDING everyone knows they only care about alberta
    ( whose not traffic shaped????? )
    uh huh.

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  9. Sean Mitchell says:

    This pledge is fluff, it has no meat, few specifics. The language is so vague that it would be meaningless… Jim Prentice could take this pledge and stand up and tell you that his bill lives up to it.

    Sorry, I just don’t see the point.

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  11. David Caplan - NDP Candidate i says:

    2008 election copyright pledge
    Hi Michael,

    I’m a big fan of your work, and I enthusiatically endorse and commit to your Copyright Pledge – 2008 Edition. I would be honoured to see my name added to the roll call of supporters on your blog.

    Keep up the great work, and all the best Michael,


    P.S. You can phone me at 604-999-5341 to confirm my identity if you consider it advisable.

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