With the government set to unveil its new cabinet tomorrow, a copyright reform bill will be back on the agenda. While copyright will presumably take a back seat to more pressing economic concerns, the campaign promise to reintroduce a bill means that the issue will not disappear. User groups were outspoken about Bill C-61 after its introduction, yet many of the groups lobbying for DMCA-style reforms were largely silent (other than the initial thanks to the government for introducing the bill). A recent Toronto conference included a panel on copyright that provides some indication of the likely response from those groups once a bill is tabled and goes to committee.
Far from thanking the government for anti-circumvention measures that mirror the U.S. DMCA, it appears likely that the groups will adopt a strategy of "the best defence is a good offence." Practically, this will mean that they will argue that the successor to C-61 does not go far enough. Among the issues raised at the conference, the groups will argue:
- that a making available right should be included. U.S. courts have recently required evidence of actual distribution for that right to apply, but Canadian groups will argue that this requirement is unnecessary
- that the new distribution right for tangible media should be expanded to cover intangible copies
- that the notice-and-notice approach for Internet intermediaries should be replaced with U.S. style notice-and-takedown
- that the safe harbour provision for ISPs should be more narrowly constructed
- that the search engine safe harbour provision should be more narrowly constructed
- that the $500 cap on downloading liability should be scrapped
The message here is clear. For those people that think the bill will be fixed at committee, note that MPs will face a barrage of claims for changes that skew the copyright balance even further. Meanwhile, those elected officials who think that they will find strong support for a C-61 approach should think again.