Toronto IP lawyer Richard Owens has posted an analysis of last summer's national copyright consultation in which he concludes that "if the aim of the Consultation was to canvass public opinion and discern trends, it failed." Given that the copyright consultation attracted greater participation than virtually any government consultation effort in recent memory, it is hard to see how it can be deemed a failure from a participation and public opinion perspective. In fact, the government itself clearly recognizes the exceptional participation last summer. Last week in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant noted:
The participation was unprecedented and we welcomed the comments of rights holders, users, intermediaries and everyday Canadians. We know that Canadians are concerned with copyright and its implications in our increasingly digital environment. This was demonstrated by the thousands of Canadians who took the time to participate in one way or another.
Owens arguments centre on the following four issues:
- The majority of the responses were form letters and those should be discounted.
- The majority of form letters were generated from a single website – CCER – that had the potential to "game" the system.
- Many of the submissions were not well-informed.
- The demographics of the consultation participants was not sufficiently representative of the Canadian public.