Canadians have already said NO to WIPO Internet treaty ratification!

I have read the form letter that Mr. Steven Fletcher is sending to constituents. In it he claims that "the Government of Canada is aware of the sensitive nature of issues regarding digital rights management" and that the Ministers are "considering the concerns of all Canadians".

Mr. Fletcher then provides a link to the Industry Canada website for the Copyright Reform process which was started in 2001. During that process over 700 Canadians offers submissions, the vast majority opposed to some aspect of the WIPO Internet treaties (See my summary of treaties). Given the only consultation that has been done thus far opposed WIPO Internet treaty ratification, why is the government ignoring Canadians and insisting on moving forward with this?

From the summary:

With respect to the legal protection of TPMs, 237 submissions argued against it to varying degrees, while 35 submissions argued in favour. This number does not include the EFF form letter. Of those who opposed, most opposed both acts and devices, or expressed concern that there should at least be very firm and clear exceptions for certain types of activities relating to reverse engineering, encryption studies and educational uses. Those who expressed support tended to request both acts and devices, citing the relevant sections of the WIPO Treaties.

There were 234 submissions that were based on the EFF form letter which was opposed to legal protection of TPMs, for a total of 471 opposed to 35 support, meaning 93% were opposed. The government could claim that views have changed since the 2001 consultation, but if they did a legitimate consultation I predict that it would be found that an even higher percentage of Canadians are opposed to legal protection for TPMs than in 2001, given more creators and other Canadians have experienced the harm.

Article 22 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) states that, "No reservation to this Treaty shall be admitted". This means that a country cannot ratify the treaty and implement only some of the articles. This means that if there is any article that people are opposed to, then they must not only be opposed to implementing that policy, but must also be opposed to ratifying the treaty as a whole.

Canadians have very clearly said no to article 11 of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT), and article 18 of the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT), and thus have said no to ratifying these treaties.

This is not to say that Canadians have rejected all the policy ideas within the treaties. It is quite reasonable to incorporate some of the concepts from these treaties into Canadian law without ratifying the treaties. One of the positive ideas is to clarify liability for on-demand communications by telecommunications, an issue of important to many people whose works are available online.

It is appropriate for different groups to do a clause-by-clause analysis of the WIPO treaties to inform the Government which ideas they like, but if there are any policy ideas which they disagree with then they must join the vast majority of Canadians who reject ratification of these treaties.