Modest proposal: copyright inquiry

Christopher Moore has made the suggestion that we should have a "Royal Commission" on copyright. (See Geist: Growing Calls for a Copyright Commission). For the record, I support the idea (with caveats).

I fundamentally disagree with his suggestion that this happen after we ratify the WIPO Internet treaties, given this will only serve as a distraction for those who will need to focus all their energies on trying to get that enabling legislation repealed. This will make the commission far less fruitful than could otherwise be possible.

I see no urgency to the WIPO Internet treaties. Current modern and strong Canadian copyright law is sufficient to meet most legitimate needs, contrary to the claims otherwise. There are some minor details (such as on-demand communication by telecommunications) which I believe the Supreme Court could quickly deal with if anyone ever bothered to provide evidence to a court (IE: P2P music filesharing case, where the Federal appeals court gave a blueprint to proceed). Being able to make these types of clarifications in the law is a feature of being in a common law country (Federally and provincially, except for Quebec which uses civil law). If this process can clarify the legality of the VCR in the United States, it can clarify the illegality of unauthorized on-demand Internet communications in Canada.

A commission could bring in actual subject matter experts, such as economists, to the table. (Might I suggest Nobel Economics prize winner Eric S. Maskin)

It might be able to bring in judges, who can help ensure that the areas that they currently consider unnecessarily vague can be dealt with.

We could even have it propose that "clarifying and simplifying the act" be considered the top priority.

This would allow copyright to be modified to make sense given the massive changes we have seen recently. This should recognize, not seek to legislate against, the fact that the technological means of production and distribution of creativity are so cheap to no longer be a solely (or even primarily) industrial activity. The idea of having horse-trading between major industrial players may have made sense in the past, but clearly no longer makes sense.

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Did the text there change ?

I'm sure it used to say "ratify WIPO, then have a proper inquiry", but it now says

Let’s not have a new copyright bill, at least not one with any substantive changes beyond the WIPO ratification minimums.

Of course the UK already did this

The Gower Report is surely the outcome of a very similar process ?