With a copyright bill only weeks away, thousands of Canadians are again speaking out for a fair, balanced approach. The public interest in copyright has predictably led to mischaracterizations of fair copyright as some claim that it is really about wanting everything for free or about opposing copyright reform. This increasingly leads to a blame the user mentality – the award-winning Vancouver Film School video on DRM and the Amazon Kindle incident from last summer discussed in yesterday's post is labeled as "ridiculous fear-mongering" (yet for years rights holders opened every movie with this film) or users are said to ignore creator concerns with a "gimme" attitude (yet the Writers Union recently urged its members to lobby MPs by claiming that flexible fair dealing would legalize theft).
The reality is that inflammatory and inaccurate rhetoric can be found on both creator and consumer-focused sites. There are undoubtedly some who use fair copyright to justify obvious cases of infringement, just as there are those that use copyright reform to preserve outdated business models or to guard against uses that the Supreme Court of Canada would surely view as fair dealing. Even a cursory search for online discussion demonstrates that claims that "sensationalist campaigning" on Canadian copyright is primarily found on sites such as mine are simply wrong.
So yet again in an effort to separate fact from fiction, here is my submission to the copyright consultation from last summer. It doesn't call for everything to be free, it calls for WIPO implementation, and it emphasizes that updating the law means accounting for both creator and consumer needs. As I've discussed over the past ten days, sources say Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore has largely rejected this submission – along with thousands of other submissions calling for a fair copyright approach – but it can't hurt to reiterate what those reforms could look like. For the many Canadians whose views may also be ignored, now is a good time to remind their MPs and the Ministers what they think the copyright bill should contain.
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Months of public debate over the future of Canadian copyright law were quietly decided earlier this week, when sources say the Prime Minister's Office reached a verdict over the direction of the next copyright bill. The PMO was forced to make the call after Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore and […]
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The Wire Report reports on the government's reaction to last summer's copyright consultation. An Industry Canada spokesperson says: "given the unprecedented level of participation, and the many important views and opinions received, the copyright consultations are considered a tremendous success. As Industry Canada considers future consultation processes, we will draw […]
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Since his appointment as Canadian Heritage minister in 2008, James Moore has carefully crafted an image as "Canada's iPod Minister." Young, bilingual, and tech-savvy, Moore has expressed regular support for the benefits of the Internet and is always ready with a quick "tweet" for his many followers. Yet as my op-ed in the Hill Times notes (HT version (sub required), homepage version), according to the scuttlebutt throughout the copyright community, Moore may be less iPod and more iPadlock. As the government readies its much-anticipated copyright package, Moore is said to be pressing for a virtual repeat of Bill C-61, the most anti-consumer copyright proposal in Canadian history.
Moore's about-face on copyright will come as a surprise to those who have heard his enthusiasm for new technology and the Internet. In June 2009, Moore told Industry Minister Tony Clement's Digital Economy conference that "the old way of doing things is over. These things are all now one. And it's great. And it's never been better. And we need to be enthusiastic and embrace this things."
Those comments were quickly followed by the national copyright consultation that generated thousands of responses, the majority of which called on the government to abandon the C-61 approach in favour of copyright rules that struck a better balance between the interests of creators and consumers.
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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.
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