In 2005, the then-Liberal government introduced Bill C-60, the first attempt at digital copyright reform in Canada. The bill included digital lock provisions that linked circumvention to copyright infringement (as supported today by dozens of Canadian organizations) and did not create a ban on the tools that can be used to circumvent. The approach was consistent with the WIPO Internet treaties, but left the U.S. very unhappy.
For many years, the lead lobbyist against the C-60 approach and for a U.S. DMCA-style implementation was David Wilkins, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada during the Bush Administration. Wilkins regularly described Canadian law as the weakest in G7, lobbied successfully for anti-camcording legislation, wrote letters setting out the U.S. demands, and met with every Canadian minister on the file (his meeting with Industry Minister Bernier was chronicled in a Wikileaks cable). The U.S. pressure was ultimately successful as Bill C-61 included digital lock rules designed to satisfy their demands. While subsequent copyright bills (C-32 and C-11) do a better job of striking a balance on other copyright issues, the digital lock rules have remain unchanged because the U.S. demands have remained unchanged.
Wilkins was back in the news this past weekend as the U.S. dealt the Canadian government a significant setback by delaying approval of Keystone XL pipeline. Wilkins, who was hired by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to lobby for pipeline approval in the U.S., called the decision “politics at its worst.”
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The Association pour l’avancement des sciences et des techniques de la documentation (ASTED) is a national not-for-profit cultural and scientific professional association. Since 1973, it has worked to advance the science and techniques of documentation by pooling its members expertise, its publications, its activities of every sort, its services and its ties with other organizations in the field of documentation and information, and with the general public. ASTED submitted a brief to the Bill C-32 committee that included the following on digital locks:
the exceptions that can support libraries in fulfilling their mission are invalidated by the provisions concerning digital locks that prevent circumvention even for use that the bill does not consider to be infringing, such as conservation. ASTED agrees with its colleagues in the CLA who are proposing that the definition of â€œcircumventionâ€ in section 41(a) and (b) be amended to include the words â€œfor any infringing useâ€.
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The Documentary Organization of Canada warns that Bill C-11 “will throw out the long-standing legal principle of ‘fair dealing’ that allows producers to use content without permission if they are reporting or commenting on it.”
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