Bill C-60 to be referred to a legislative committee, not Heritage or Industry

I received the following reply to a letter I sent to Hon. Tony Valeri, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

Dear Mr. McOrmond:

On behalf of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Tony Valeri, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your correspondence dated July 27th, 2005, concerning the study and implementation of Bill C-60, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

As you are aware, Bill C-60 was introduced and read for the first time in the House of Commons on June 20th, 2005 by the Honourable Liza Frulla, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women. As you may be aware, given the complexity and the magnitude of this issue, we intend to refer the bill to a legislative committee, rather than to the Heritage or Industry committees.

Since the issue you raise falls within the purview of the Honourable David Emerson, Minister of Industry, and the Honourable Liza Frulla, I have taken the liberty of forwarding your correspondence to them for information and consideration.

Thank you again for your interest in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Janice Oliver

Directory of Parliamentary Affairs

c.c.: The Hounourable Mauril Bélanger, P.C., M.P.
Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Jonathan Nagle
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Ms. Janice Nicholson
Office of the Minister of Industry

---cut---

For reference, attached is the letter that I had sent.

Dear Hon. Tony Valeri, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Copy to: Hon. Mauril Bélanger, Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

In the Frequently Asked Questions document that was sent to MPs about Bill C-60 it states that the decision of which parliamentary committee will consider C-60 is decided by Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

(Question 14)
http://www.digital-copyright.ca/billc60/fromgov/questions_and_answers_e.pdf

Those of us actively involved in copyright reform have noticed that the members of the Heritage committee have not been open to the wider implications of the legislation they are contemplating. They also seem inadequately familiar with technology to be able to evaluate the false and otherwise misleading claims of certain providers of technologies which are being given legal protection under this bill.

While copyright is often as cultural policy, the proposals in C-60 are primarily economic in nature. While the incumbent content and "software manufacturing" industries claim the bill is about "stopping copyright infringement", those of us who are harnessing new methods of production, creation and funding of creativity and innovation recognize that the current proposals are really about "stopping competition".

This policy protects the incumbent production, creation and funding models from necessary modernization and transformative change (See "The Innovator's Dilemma", by Clayton M. Christensen).

There is a conflict of interest with having the same department and committee responsible for funding arts (Heritage) also being responsible for the economic policy that governs this sector. This creates a bias towards the interests of groups and existing "Super Stars" with existing relationships with the department, and create a bias against newer creators. This is especially true of new methods that don't demand large grants from the government.

The Industry Minister is defined as the Minister of Industry (Section 2, Definitions). This is except for section 44.1 (Importation of certain copyright works prohibited) where the Minister is the Minister of National Revenue.

As competition policy and other critically important economic and technology policy considerations are best understood Industry Canada and Industry Committee, it is extremely important that the bill be referred to Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology (INDU).

Thank you.

Russell McOrmond
305 Southcrest Private,
Ottawa, ON
K1V 2B7
Phone: (613) 733-5836
http://www.flora.ca/#contact

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who is "legislative committee"?

Any ideas on what this move might mean? By shifting the issue out of the Heritage and not into Industry (as you suggested) what does this do other than to basically close the door on just who it is that must be "got to" to ensure the bill goes one way or the other? I'm only guessing, but doesn't this ensure a certain anonymity on the person (or, presumably, persons) who will decide the fate of culture and intellectual property in this country?

Kind of like moving the discussion off email and hiding the debate behind anonymous IRC handles ...

This is a membership issue, not a secrecy issue.

This legislative committee will be made up of members of parliament, so we know the 308 people who can participate. One the committee is formed, the list of specific committee members will be extremely public and we will be publishing that information on our BLOG.

The public interest gains quite a bit by having a special legislative committee. Each of the existing committees have a bit of a conflict of interest, with Heritage funding a small subset of creators, and Industry focused on promoting innovation in specific industry sectors. In both cases these committee members hear more from very specific subsets of the economy, while copyright affects the interests of the entire of society and thus needs a broader understanding.

Regarless of who the committee members will be, all members of parliament must hear from constituents. Please send a letter to your MP to indicate your interest and ideas on copyright!


Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.