NDP MP Charlie Angus has issued a lengthy letter to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore and Industry Minister Tony Clement that challenges them on the digital lock provisions in Bill C-32. In a release on the letter, Angus states "the digital lock provisions will subject Canadians to arbitrary limitations on their legal rights of access. The government is trying to create the impression that this unbalanced approach to digital locks is necessary in order to bring Canada into compliance with WIPO and the Berne Convention. Nothing could be further from the truth." He adds:
"The government is establishing a two-tiered set of rights. Bill C-32 offers rights that consumers will be restricted from exercising. These provisions make a mockery of the claim that the bill is balanced and pro-consumer. Either the government has a faulty understanding of international treaty obligations or is looking to use these existing treaties as a cover to pursue a specific political agenda. The New Democratic Party will challenge any provisions that would lead to unbalanced and arbitrary copyright legislation."
The letter delves into much greater detail on the digital lock issue, discussing how there is flexibility at international law with Angus emphatically stating "I believe the government will be unable to produce evidence that these onerous digital lock provisions are the result of existing treaty obligations." As result, Angus makes a formal request that the government seek an opinion from WIPO on the issue of exceptions to digital locks.
In a shot at Moore's "radical extremists" comment, Angus notes:
I have taken the steps to reference these works so that you can be reassured that Canadians who raise questions about the unbalanced implementation of digital lock provisions are not pushing "extreme" or "radical" views. In fact, they are much within the mainstream regarding international implementation of these treateis. Indeed, if there is a case for any "extreme" behavior in the present debate it would be the decision of the government to use C-32 to pursue an agenda that goes well beyond the norms established by WIPO signatories.
As it stands now, Bill C-32 is a flawed piece of legislation that will face increasing opposition because of its one-sided approach to digital locks. It is clear that either the government has applied a faulty understanding of international treaty obligations or is looking to use these existing treaties as cover to pursue a specific political agenda. Either way, the New Democratic Party will challenge provisions that would create a two-tiered set of rights with arbitrary limitations on citizen's use of legally-accessed works.