The End of Bill C-61

With every reason to believe that Canada will be in the midst of an election campaign by next week, Canwest runs a story on how an election call will kill Bill C-61. This raises at least two issues.  First, C-61 may dead but copyright reform Canada is still very much alive.  Regardless of who forms the next government, copyright will almost certainly be on the agenda. Indeed, Prentice is quoted as saying that he would like to be the Minister that sees it through.  I plan to complete the 61 Reforms to C-61 and C-61 in 61 Seconds projects since these same issues are obviously bound to return when the next copyright bill is introduced.

Second, the election campaign provides an exceptionally important opportunity to speak out on copyright.  Over the past two months, the reaction to C-61 has overwhelmed many politicians.  Some have acknowledged that it was the top issue among constituent correspondence, others have held town hall meetings in response to local concerns, and yet others have sought to make it an election issue.  There are indications of some Conservative MPs expressing some misgivings about the bill.  Several Liberals have articulated their own copyright principles and committed to a public consultation and the NDP has remained the most vocal critic of C-61. 

Raising the profile of copyright has required thousands of Canadians to pro-actively contact their elected representatives. Starting next week, those same representatives (and would-be representatives) will be seeking you out.  They will be knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending all-candidates meetings, and generally doing their best to convince voters that they will best represent their interests. I believe that this presents an exceptional opportunity to ask the question – where do you stand on important digital issues such as C-61 and Canadian copyright reform?  Does your local Conservative candidate support the reintroduction of Bill C-61 or would they work toward amendments before it returns?  Is your local Liberal candidate willing to commit to public consultations before the introduction of any new copyright bill?  Is your NDP or Green candidate firmly against the approach in C-61?  These are the questions (along with positions on net neutrality, telecom competition, broadband access, and privacy) that need to be asked again and again and again this fall.  Bill C-61 may be about to die, but the prospect of Canadian DMCA-like legislation remains very much alive.

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