Copyright Law in Canada is about to get a lot tougher, but what do Canadians really know about the way the Government is interpreting the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet Treaties?
A campaign of awareness led by Dr. Michael Geist of the University of Ottawa has been quickly gathering momentum gaining the attention of popular Internet blogs, including a Facebook group that has grown 10,000 members strong in less than a week.
The negative publicity on the Internet is aimed at Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who many believe should take a step back and consult the actual Industry, perhaps taking a few lessons from the failures of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA )implemented south of the border.
Cory Doctorow, a Canadian author and co-founder of Boing Boing was quoted in a Globe and Mail article, writing about the model that the Canadian government is using.
"The US’s approach to enforcing copyright in the digital age has resulted in 20,000 lawsuits against music fans, technology companies being sued out of existence for making new multi-purpose tools, and has not put one penny into the pocket of an artist or reduced downloading one bit. The USA stepped into uncharted territory in 1998 with the DMCA and fell off a cliff — that was reckless, but following them off the cliff is insane."
Michael Geist's blog announced yesterday that the Minister will not introduce the Canadian DMCA today, responding to thousands of letters and phone calls over the past week, urging the government "to adopt balanced copyright reforms that meets everyone's needs and does not unduly harm education, consumer rights, privacy, and free speech."
According to a report in the Ottawa Citizen, the Geist's Facebook group 'Fair Copyright in Canada' had grown to 13,000 members and was averaging growth of more than 1,500 members per day.
"It's not just the numbers, it's the amount of discussion around this issue," he says. "Copyright may be a complex technical issue, but people understand the basic issues and how everyone is affected by them." In the same article, Cory Doctorow was quoted as saying "It's a pretty tough sell for any government to convince people that scarcity of access to culture and knowledge is somehow good for them..."People are asking guys like Jim Prentice who he really works for...And what recording industry are we protecting when so many Canadian musicians and labels have left the recording industry lobby group."
The act takes a hard line against the copying of digital materials, even making the television time shifting enabled by digital video recorders illegal as well as file-sharing of music and video files, and copying files to DVDs or MP3 players.
It is certainly worth noting that the previous Liberal government tried to introduce its own copyright reform bill, C-60 in 2005, but did not get implemented when the minority government was defeated by a no-confidence vote.
An excellent source of information on the issues at hand is Michael Geists's blog, which links to other relevant sources as well. The video embedded to this article is a video produced by Geist that lists 30 things that concerned parties can do about it.
Geist points out on his blog the government's main talking points in a clear and concise manner, that could only be summarized here.
1. "Canada Needs This Legislation To Meet Its International Treaty Obligations" - Canada signed the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet Treaties in 1997, but "We can meet the treaty standards and still protect fair dealing, privacy, consumer, and education interests."
2. "Trading Partner Criticism" - The U.S. being the most vocal trading partner is critical of the laws of many other countries as well. Why is the Canadian interpretation more restrictive than even the U.S. laws? Canadians deserve fair laws and Mr. Prentice should take the time to consult with the industry experts.
3. "This Is Just an Extension of the Liberal's C-60" - Geist calls this "Utter nonsense" pointing out that "While Bill C-60 had its faults, it did attempt to strike a balance and preserve fair dealing rights in Canada. Prentice's Canadian DMCA by contrast will largely eliminate fair dealing in the digital world. Moreover, the 2001 consultation was a lifetime ago in terms of technology and the Internet."
4. "Business Wants This Legislation" - Here Geist writes a scathing criticism of Mr. Prentice's efforts to consult with industry CEO's, including those who oppose the legislation and questioning whether he asked a company like Skylink Technologies who spent more than $3 million fighting a lawsuit based on the less restrictive U.S. DMCA
According to the CBC, Prentice could not say if the bill would be re-introduced this week, but the House of Commons breaks until January after Friday's session, so the time for those concerned to educate themselves and be heard is now.
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