Earlier this year, I posted on a Canadian Labour Congress IP policy that was scheduled for approval by the CLC Council. The proposal represented a dramatic shift in approach that was exceptionally one-sided. The proposal did not pass, however, and the CLC formed a working group to develop a new policy. Sources advise that the new policy was approved late last month and the results much better reflect the diversity of interests within Canada's largest labour organization. In fact, the policy combines both copyright and net neutrality, adopting a broader approach to digital policy.
On copyright, the policy statement contains 14 recommendations including expanding fair dealing, limiting the application of statutory damages, eliminating crown copyright, and linking anti-circumvention legislation to actual infringement. The 14 recommendations:
- to engage in open and genuine consultation with Canadians before drafting new copyright legislation;
- in the drafting of any new copyright legislation, to balance the needs of Canadian users, creators and owners of copyrighted works in a manner that reflects and addresses Canadian concerns;
- to introduce and pass amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act to conform with the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Internet Treaties and to implement those treaties;
- to expand the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act to achieve an appropriate balance between the rights of users, creators and owners of copyrighted works;
- to direct enforcement measures at commercial copyright infringement, including the counterfeit and pirated goods that threaten the health, safety and jobs of Canadians;
- to amend the Statutory Damages provisions of the Copyright Act to remove their application from those who copy a work with a reasonable belief that their actions are justified by Fair Dealing or other statutory rights;
- to advocate for the establishment of an audio-visual performance rights treaty at the WIPO and establish such rights in domestic legislation to benefit performers and creators for use of their work;
- to eliminate Crown Copyright so that government materials can be freely used by Canadians;
- to introduce anti-circumvention provisions (measures that protect digital locks) in the Copyright Act that renders circumvention unlawful if such circumvention is for the purposes of copyright infringement;
- to ensure that the use of digital locks or other such technological measures for the protection of copyrighted works in Canada will be consistent with the established principles and practices of current copyright legislation in relation to access for “fair dealing” purposes;
- to amend the Copyright Act to protect the holders of moral rights either by recognizing such rights as non-waivable and inalienable personal rights, or by considering further limitations and conditions on such waivers;
- to amend the current Canadian copyright ownership formulation in section 13(3) of the Copyright Act where the employer, not the author or creator, is deemed to be the first owner of the copyright so it is less onerous for a wider range of creative workers;
- to update and expand the Canadian private copying regime to ensure that creators are appropriately compensated for uses of their work in all media while affording users the right to copy works they have obtained legally for personal use; and
- to enact an effective legal framework in the Copyright Act governing internet service providers that ensures providers play a role in addressing copyright infringement on the internet and that allegations of copyright infringement are dealt with fairly.
This represents a dramatic shift for an organization representing three million Canadian workers that includes groups such as ACTRA. When I posted on this issue earlier this year, I suggested that people contact the CLC to express their concern with the proposed resolution. Given this new policy, it would similarly be appropriate to contact the CLC to express support for taking a closer look at the issue and working toward a more balanced policy approach.