Canadian Consumer Groups Call for Copyright Laws that Put Canada First

For Immediate Release

(June 5, 2008, Ottawa, Ontario) A coalition of Canadian consumer advocates has released an open letter to Canada’s ministers responsible for Canadian copyright policy calling on the Canadian government to ensure that any changes to Canada’s copyright laws put Canadian consumers first. The coalition of leading consumer groups, representing thousands of Canadian consumers, includes Union des consommateurs, Option consommateurs, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Consumers Council of Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), and the grassroots digital activism organization, Online Rights Canada.

The consumer coalition has released the open letter in response to indications that the Conservative government is preparing to introduce legislation that will significantly alter the contours of Canada’s copyright laws. Industry Minister Jim Prentice has promised that the bill will represent the interests of consumers. Astonishingly, he has not consulted with a single consumer group to determine how to do this.

“We are troubled that the Canadian government has not consulted with Canadian consumers before now,” says John Lawford, a lawyer with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. “We have therefore brought Canadian consumers’ views to the government. Copyright policy is consumer policy.”

David Fewer, staff counsel with CIPPIC, notes that in sharp contrast to its treatment of Canadian consumers, the government has consulted extensively with American government trade representatives and entertainment industry lobbyists. “Copyright consultations would have provided an excellent opportunity to identify ways that our copyright laws could advance Canadian interests. Instead, we are likely to see a bill that panders to foreign interests at the expense of Canadian consumers. This is all the more startling given the broad consensus that has emerged among consumer groups, business groups such as the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, and creator groups such as the Canadian Music Creators Coalition (CMCC) and the Documentary Organisation of Canada (DOC).”

The consumer coalition promises to be active before Parliament on the introduction of the bill. “It’s not too late,” says Lawford. “This bill offers an opportunity to craft a made-in-Canada approach to digital copyright issues. It is not in Canada’s interests to import the inflexible approaches to digital copyright embraced in other jurisdictions, such as the United States.”

For More Information, see:

The Canadian Consumers Coalition letter to Minister Prentice and Minister Verner: http://www.cippic.ca/uploads/Consumers_Copyright_LT_Ministers-2008June5-FINAL.pdf

About CIPPIC: CIPPIC is the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Canada’s only technology law clinic. CIPPIC was established in 2003 at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. CIPPIC’s mandate is to advocate for balance in policy and law-making on issues arising out of new technologies.

For More Information, Contact:

David Fewer
Staff Counsel, Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic
Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

John Lawford
Staff Counsel, Public Interest Advocacy Centre