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July 25 2009
The Honourable Tony Clement
Minister Of Industry, Science & Technology
House of Commons
The Honourable James Moore
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
House of Commons
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
House of Commons
Over the course of the last few years, I have been closely following the developments in Canadian copyright law and I am very concerned with the government's direction for copyright reform in Canada. I am worried that this government may wrongly adopt the American approach to digital copyright law as evidenced by prior draft bills including Bill C-61. The most worrisome component of Bill C-61 was the anti-circumvention provisions, which undermined each of the new made-in-Canada user rights being used to sell this legislation to the Canadian public.
Although Bill C-61 died on the order paper when the 39th Parliament was dissolved prematurely, I still feel strongly that it is unreasonable to accept any future legislation that gives consumers rights with one hand and quickly takes them away with the other as Bill C-61 did. By creating a blanket prohibition on circumvention tools and devices for bypassing digital locks or TPMs, Canadians are effectively locked out of their own digital content, even if accessing that content is permitted by the Copyright Act. I feel that it is essential that Canadian copyright laws advance consumer and creator interests by not employing an all-encompassing prohibition on the development and manufacturing of circumvention devices and technologies, commercial trade of circumvention devices and technologies, the possession and/or utilization of any device or technology that can circumvent a TPM or DRM for a non-infringing purpose or otherwise lawful activity such as fair dealing, interoperability, time and format shifting.
The Copyright Act should be amended to bring the backup copy provision into the 21st century by expanding the right to make an archival backup copy to all digital consumer products regardless of format or media.
Amendments to the Copyright Act seeking to add provisions relating to the liability of Internet intermediaries and subscriber actions should take a "notice and notice" approach that will provide the best balance between the protection of intellectual property rights and the fundamental rights of individual and academic expression.
Amendments to the Copyright Act need to ensure that statutory damages are limited and users must be protected from statutory damages if the user has good-faith to believe their use of the protected work was fair and non-infringing, or if the user is engaged in purely private and non-commercial activity.
Fortunately, there is still time for Canada to draft legislation to ensure that the rights, values and interests of all Canadians are reflected in a truly Canadian-to-the-core approach to copyright reform. In the coming weeks and months, I urge the government to engage in meaningful consultation with Canadian consumers and creators, thereby opening up the development of Canadian copyright policy to more than just the corporate interests which have lobbied behind the scenes.