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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 as evidenced by prior draft bills including Bill C-61.
Canada has long been the birth place of new and revolutionary ideas, which had over time blossomed into countless advances in many areas that affects lives globally. So why is it so difficult for us to abandon the old, archaic views on copyright?
The digital age is revolutionizing our interaction with technology, entertainment and art. Instead of embracing the change, our neighbour to the south wants our government to invade our privacy and to violate on our rights, in order to protect the profit margins of a handful of people who stand to lose greatly because of these technologies. By this I do not mean the artists, but the corporations that exploit both their customers and their artists.
There was once a time, where copyright laws protected the art, but that was no longer the case. Current copyright legislation protects the corporations — not the artists, not the people. What our copyright laws need, is an extreme makeover to protect the interests of the consumer and creator.
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, is a good start, but it doesn't have to end there.
We have, here and now, a great opportunity to be at the forefront of something great — something that will revolutionize the way the world deals with copyright.
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.
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