Monday, January 17, 2011

Now's The Time To Speak Out on Copyright Reform

Last year, Bill C-32 (An Act to Amend the Copyright Act) entered second reading. Bill C-32 included many reforms to the Copyright Act, including the addition of legal protection for digital locks.

Since early December, the Parliamentary Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 has invited Canadians to provide their views on the bill.  The Committee has set the following parameters for submissions from interested Canadians:

In order for briefs on Bill C-32 to be considered by the Committee in a timely fashion, the document should be submitted to the Committee's mailbox at by the end of January, 2011. A brief which is longer than 5 pages should be accompanied by a 1 page executive summary and in any event should not exceed 10 pages in length.

Now is the time to speak out about your views on copyright reform.  Even if you've already written your MP or Minister, do so again before Jan 31.

For a more detailed examination of C-32 and Canadian copyright, see From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, a book published in October 2010 that includes 20 essays on a wide range of copyright reform issues.  The book is available in paper version or as a free Creative Commons licenced download.

Write the legislative committee and let your views be known by emailing the Committee's mailbox at before Jan 31.  If you've always thought copyright laws should be reformed, now's your chance to get your wish.  Below is my submission to the committee; you may use all or part of it in your submission as you wish:

Dear Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 (CC32),

I write to you with regard to Bill C-32, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act. As a Canadian, an author and a consumer, I am both a content creator and a consumer of content. However, I am deeply concerned with Bill C-32 in its currently form as it fails Canadians.

Firstly, the Bill’s approach to digital locks is must troublesome. The Supreme Court has stated in CCH that fair dealing is a user’s right, a consumer’s right, and fair dealing is a required and necessary part of a just and democratic society in its exercise of criticism, education, and news reporting. Yet under Bill C-32, any copyrightable work protected by a digital lock trumps all other copyright rights, including all fair dealing and consumer rights. The digital lock provisions must be amended to ensure that it is only a violation of copyright to circumvent a digital lock when the underlying purpose and intent is to infringe copyright. This approach, which has been adopted by countries such as New Zealand and Switzerland, would ensure that the law could be used to target clear cases of commercial piracy but that individual consumer and user rights are preserved. This position retains legal protection for digital locks and still complies with the WIPO Internet treaties but ensures that digital locks do not trump all other copyright rights by preserving fair dealing and consumer rights.

Secondly, extending the private copying levy to iPods and other devices should not be considered. There has been criticism about the cost of administering the levy, the fairness of how the levy is distributed to Canadian artists, and what Canadian consumers are getting in return for paying the levy. Rather than expanding the levy, the government should phase out the levy and instead commit to continued funding for Canadian artists and programs via existing grant programs.

Thank you for considering the views of this concerned Canadian, content creator, and consumer.

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