The Copyright Consulation: Five Weeks Left As Stakes Build

The national copyright consultation is down to the final five weeks and over the past week, there has been a growing number of op-eds and public commentary that provide Canadians with a good sense of what the traditional copyright lobby is pushing for as part of the consultation.  While some have expressed skepticism about the consultation process, the reality is that the risk of saying nothing is simply far too high.  Consider:

  • CRIA and CMPDA lobbyist Barry Sookman, in a National Post op-ed written with Stephen Stohn, labels Canada a piracy heaven while calling for "graduated response" (the euphemism for three strikes and a user loses Internet access for a year), anti-circumvention legislation, ISP liability, notice and takedown, secondary liability for sites like the Pirate Bay, and limited fair dealing expansion rather than a more flexible approach. 
  • In a second piece, Sookman notes that the government needs to get moving on copyright reform and calls for WIPO ratification, while Glen Bloom is quoted as saying the consultation isn't needed, claiming that "endless consultation is useless" and that it is an embarrassment for Canadian law to be in the state it is.
  • ACTRA seeks an expansion of the private copying levy to other media such as iPods.
  • Access Copyright warns its members that the "debate takes aim at your livelihood."

While there have been op-eds providing a counter-perspective (notably Olivier Charbonneau in Le Devoir), the picture that is emerging is precisely what CIRPA head Duncan McKie suggested on the eve of the consultation – "C-61 didn't go far enough."

There is only one way to counter this.  The roundtables have to-date been balanced and there are many submissions that express the need for a fair copyright approach.  Indeed, last week the Manitoba Music Industry Association distanced itself from CRIA in saying its members are not interested in anti-circumvention legislation.  However, the big lobbying efforts are clearly aimed at expanding C-61 by adding three-strikes and you're out as well as new levies to a Canadian DMCA. Canadians simply cannot afford to stay silent – Speak Out On Copyright today.

Update: An earlier version of this post noted that the Sookman and Stohn op-ed contained recommendations that were similar to those found in the Conference Board of Canada's deleted reports. This reference was not intended to suggest that their recommendations were in any way influenced by, or plagiarized from, what the Conference Board included in its deleted report. This post has also been updated to clarify the specific comments of Bloom and Sookman.

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