Last Tuesday, Justice Minister David Lametti tabled his department’s Charter statement for Bill C-18, the Online News Act. A link to the statement appeared briefly on the department’s website, but by the end of the week reference to the Bill C-18 Charter statement was removed from the Justice site altogether. As of this morning, there is still no reference to the statement, even though it is a public document having been tabled in the House of Commons. In fact, I have now obtained a copy of the Charter statement and posted it publicly here with an embed below. The department will presumably re-post the statement at some point and it would be useful to confirm that it remains unchanged and provide an explanation for the online removal (I asked and did not get a response). [UPDATE: Hours after this blog post went live, the government posted the Charter statement.]
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The Missing Bill C-18 Charter Statement: Why Did the Justice Department Remove the Document Confirming the Online News Act Includes Payments for Internet Linking?
The Canadian Government Makes its Choice: Implementation of Copyright Term Extension Without Mitigating Against the Harms
The Canadian government plans to extend the term of copyright from the international standard of life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years without mitigation measures that would have reduced the harms and burden of the extension. The Budget Implementation Act, a 443 page bill that adopts the omnibus approach the government had pledged to reject, was posted late yesterday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s department and could be tabled in the House of Commons as early as today. Page 328 of the bill features the shoehorned amendments to the Copyright Act, including an extension of the term of copyright. While the government is not making the change retroactive (meaning works currently in the public domain stay there), no one seriously expected that to happen. What many had hoped – based on the government’s own committee recommendations and copyright consultation – was to introduce mitigation measures to reduce the economic cost and cultural harm that comes from term extension. Instead, Freeland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez have chosen to reject the recommendations of students, teachers, universities, librarians, IP experts, and their own Justice Minister.
Budget 2022’s Tax on Consumers: Chrystia Freeland’s Seven Year Struggle With Copyright Term Extension
The inclusion of copyright term extension in Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s Budget 2022 may have been buried toward the very end of the last annex of the budget on page 274, but the issue has been front and centre for Freeland for many years. Indeed, Freeland has been well aware of the hidden costs arising from term extension since she was first elected in 2015. In her roles as Minister of International Trade, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and now Finance Minister, term extension has arisen repeatedly as she worked first to avoid term extension and later to maintain flexibility if forced into implementing the change.
Having fought to maintain that flexibility, it is now essential to establish a registration requirement, which would allow rights holders that want the extension to get it, while ensuring that many other works enter the public domain at the international standard of life plus 50 years. By providing for life plus 50 and the option for an additional 20 years, Canadian law would be consistent with Berne Convention formalities requirements and with its trade treaty obligations.
Failing Analysis: Why the Department of Justice “Updated” Charter Statement Doesn’t Address Bill C-10’s Free Speech Risks
The Department of Justice yesterday released its updated Charter statement on Bill C-10. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the department argued that the bill is Charter compliant. That conclusion was never in doubt as the statement is quite clearly more a political document than a legal analysis. The only real questions were whether the department would seriously grapple with the freedom of expression implications of treating all user generated content as a “program” subject to regulation by the CRTC and if Minister of Justice David Lametti would come to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to answer questions on the statement. It turns out the answer is no to both questions: the statement glosses over the actual concerns with Bill C-10 and Lametti will be a no-show at the committee hearing.
Earlier this year, the Canadian government launched a timid consultation on copyright term extension. After years of rejecting copyright term extension beyond the international law standard of life of the author plus 50 years, the Canadian government caved to pressure from the United States by agreeing to the equivalent of life of the author plus 70 years in the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement (USMCA). With a 30 month transition period to allow for consultation, this represents an opportunity to mitigate against the harms of term extension.
I submitted my response last night and it is posted here. The submission cites a wide range of experts – including Justice Minister David Lametti and former US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante for the proposition that registration for the additional 20 years is not only permissible under international law, it is desirable. I also include a lengthy appendix of the some of the Canadian authors and leaders whose works will not enter the public domain if term is extended. These include Gabrielle Roy, Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Laurence, Louis St. Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Tommy Douglas, René Lévesque, Jean Lesage, John Robarts, and Bora Laskin.