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Sep 15 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
As a consumer of digital media and electronics I stand to be greatly impacted by changes to the Canadian copyright regime.
I am worried that this Government may wrongly adopt the American approach to digital copyright law. Previous attempts at new legislation, such as C-61, were inept and draconian in nature.
Although I am taking advantage of large parts of a pre-written form letter, my own opinion is based on several international evaluations of existing Canadian copyright laws and their protection levels in comparison to other countries, especially the United States. In particular, these seemingly independent studies show that Canadian copyright law is continually rated as more protective than US law and the law of other so-called IP friendly nations. So, one might ask, what exactly is it that needs fixing with our law such that someone drafted C-61?
It is essential that Canadian copyright laws advance consumer and creator interests by not banning 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 actions and use of the work in question was fair and non-infringing, or if the user is engaged in purely private and non-commercial activity.
The concept of technological neutrality is paramount when considering changes to Canada's copyright regime that will withstand the test of time. The Government must not integrate protection for specific technologies or business models into any amendments to the Copyright Act (e.g. all-encompassing prohibition of circumvention devices and technologies). Any new legislation should be technologically-neutral to maintain flexibility into the future.
To further foster innovation, creativity, competition and investment in Canada and to position Canada as a leader in the global digital economy, it is important to expand and protect the doctrine of fair dealing. As fair dealing will undoubtedly provide any new legislation with the elasticity to adapt to future business models and new forms of creativity.
In order to direct and facilitate the digitization of Canadian heritage, a clear commitment needs to be made in order to preserve the current term of copyright. A pre-determined and generally accepted public domain date must be established for the good of all Canadians and the preservation of the heritage we so proudly maintain.
I am also particularly concerned about privacy, or more exactly, the loss thereof through the use of technologies like DPI (deep packet inspection) that our ISPs are being pressured to use as a measure against file sharing and potentially other activity. Though I cannot and do not condone the sharing/copying of copyrighted material, the loss of privacy is a much greater threat.
I also strongly believe that should a re-tread of C-61 be introduced to and passed by Parliament, we will only have succeeded in creating a legal framework to effectively make illegal the benign behaviour of tens of thousands of Canadians in trying to format shift the very music and video that they have legally purchased.
Finally, I strongly believe that as a member country actively engaged in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) Canada should not allow this non-transparent trade agreement to override the democratic process and legal framework of the Canadian domestic Copyright Act. While supposedly designed to address counterfeit physical goods as well as Internet distribution and information technology, ACTA provisions may prove to over-ride any type of domestic copyright laws and negate the entire copyright reform process.
Fortunately, there remains time and opportunity 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. I am encouraged by the public consultations on copyright that the Government is engaged in and I am confident that this will open up the development of Canadian copyright policy to more than just traditional lobby groups and the corporate interests that have directed policies in the past.
CC: Marc Garneau – Official Opposition Critic For Industry, Science & Technology
CC: Pablo Rodriguez – Official Critic For Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
CC: Charlie Angus – NDP Digital Affairs Critic