The revolving door between government and lobby groups has long been a source of concern in the United States, where lead government IP officials have regularly jumped to lobby groups representing music, movies, and software interests and vice versa. In recent years, that has included the USTR official responsible for copyright in ACTA and the TPP moving the MPAA, the lead software industry lobbyist joining the USTR, and the general counsel of the Copyright Office joining the top international music association.
The Lobby Monitor reports that the revolving door has apparently migrated to Canada, with the former Director of Regulatory Affairs for Music Canada joining the government to play a key role in copyright policy, only to be replaced by the former Director of Parliamentary Affairs within the Prime Minister’s Office, who was the lead on the surprise copyright term extension for sound recordings passed in 2015.
The moves started with Tanya Peatt, who was once James Moore’s Director of Policy and lead on the copyright file. Peatt’s LinkedIn page still references her position as Director of Regulatory Affairs at Music Canada and provides assurances that she was blocked from lobbying the government due to the Federal Accountability Act. However, as Canadaland reported earlier this week, Peatt has now left Music Canada to return to government, where she will work on copyright policy within the Department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development (formerly Industry Canada).
Peatt’s replacement at Music Canada? None other than Patrick Rogers, the former Director of Parliamentary Affairs at the PMO, who was the central government figure in the 2015 copyright extension for sound recordings. As the Lobby Monitor reports, Rogers recently received a waiver from the Ethics Commissioner to begin work with Music Canada. Rogers had been unable to find a job since the fall election and the Commissioner ruled that the recent announcement regarding a Canadian culture review as sufficient to remove concerns about information being held on future policy directions. Yet Rogers played a key role in Music Canada’s lobbying efforts to obtain a copyright term extension for sound recordings in the 2015 budget. As I reported last year, Rogers (then the Director of Policy for the Minister of Canadian Heritage) held near monthly meetings with Music Canada which ultimately led to the copyright extension without any public consultation.
With a copyright review scheduled for 2017, there is considerable concern among many stakeholders about the direct move of a senior official from one of the most powerful copyright lobby groups in the country to the very government department responsible for leading the policy review. This revolving door – and the willingness of the department of Minister Navdeep Bains to actively participate in it – raises enormously troubling questions about the upcoming copyright review and assurances that all stakeholders will be treated in a fair and balanced manner.
It is very troubling, particularly what happened with Rogers. The precedent is that being a craven shill for a particular industry will reward you with employment. This subverts what should be motivating law and policy, and encourages incentives counter to the raison d’être of the Conflict of Interest Act. Instead of decisions based on the public interest they are made based on the hope of securing employment with the group that is lobbying for a change – in this case a change that will commercially advantage the group’s members.
It is hard not to see the decision of the Commissioner as a misapprehension of the factors to consider in the Conflict of Interest Act, particularly the full implications surrounding “the authority and influence possessed by the reporting public office holder or former reporting public office holder while in public office.”
Great article.Especially the depth in which it discuses the legal aspects