David Akin has pointed to a new paper from Blayne Haggart, a doctoral student at Carleton who is focusing on copyright policy in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The paper, being presented this week in Montreal, includes some interesting analysis of digital copyright reforms in each country. Given today's introduction of the copyright reform bill, of particular significance are comments Haggart obtained from Michele Austin, who served as Maxime Bernier's chief of staff when he was Industry Minister.
According to Austin, the decision to introduce U.S.-style DMCA rules in Canada in 2007 was strictly a political decision, the result of pressure from the Prime Minister's Office desire to meet U.S. demands. She states "the Prime Minister's Office's position was, move quickly, satisfy the United States." When Bernier and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda protested, the PMO replied "we don't care what you do, as long as the U.S. is satisfied."
This mandate will not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has followed the issue, but it still shocks to see it presented in such stark terms. Given the strong public opposition to the anti-circumvention provisions in C-61, the thousands of Canadians who spoke out against the U.S. approach during the copyright consultation, and even Industry Minister Tony Clement's reported support for a more flexible approach, it would appear that the PMO's decision to side with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in requiring strict anti-circumvention rules reflects a long-term decision to prioritize U.S. interests on copyright ahead of the national interest. The decision is particularly discouraging since it is unnecessary – a compromise could be struck that provides legal protection for digital locks, is WIPO compliant, and preserves the copyright balance.
Update: The NDP runs a "reality check" that highlights the Haggart article.