Canada's federal government is set to proceed
with the controversial copyright bill. The Copyright Act will be brought forward, today, by Minister of Industry Jim Prentice and the Minister of Canadian Heritage Josée Verner.
The opposition to this bill centres around the belief that it will introduce harsh new restrictions on downloading, copying songs to CDs and music players, unlocking cellphones and time-shifting of television shows.
The possibility that this bill will mirror the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which similarly brought in restrictive measures and opened the door for copyright owners to enact huge lawsuits against violators has critics worried.
The reason that the government has given for the need for this new bill is that Canada's Copyright Act must be amended in order to bring the country into compliance with the World Intellectual Property Organization treaty it signed in 1996.
Last December, the bill was withdrawn due to heavy opposition. Opposition has grown since then, a Facebook group that opposes the bill now has 40,000 members.
In addition, Canadian artists, librarians and students, as well as a business coalition made up of some of Canada's biggest companies, including Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp., as well as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc, have expressed their opposition to any legislation that imposes harsh copyright restrictions.
A coalition of consumers groups that includes Option consommateurs, Consumers Council of Canada, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and Online Rights Canada (OnlineRights.ca) — who wrote a letter to the two ministers has joined the opposition.
Last week Prentice stated that he would not introduce the bill until he and Verner were satisfied that it struck the right balance between consumers and copyright holders.
Geist has repeatedly attacked the government on his blog for its lack of consultation with the Canadian public on the issue. However, Prentice has met with U.S. trade representatives and entertainment industry lobbyists to discuss the legislation.
"Prentice should be honest about the core anti-circumvention rules that are likely to mirror the DMCA and run counter to the concerns of business, education and consumer groups," University of Ottawa internet and e-commerce professor Michael Geist wrote on his blog.
"Those rules are quite clearly 'Born in the USA.'"