Bill C-61 letter from Pierre Poilievre (Nepean Carleton)

After meeting with Pierre Poilievre, M.P. for Nepean Carleton, a constituent received this very familiar looking letter. If other people have received similar letters, I am curious to hear your stories.

Dear <constituent name>

Thank you for your correspondence on this important issue. Your thoughts and ideas are important to me. I apologize for my delayed response.

Copyright reform is much needed and long overdue. It has been ten years since the last major reform of this important legislation. In that time, we have seen nothing short of an Internet revolution and major advancements in technology. Bill C-61 is a balanced, made-in-Canada approach to copyright reform that will help ensure fair access by Canadian consumers to copyright material and protection of the rights of Canadians who create material that is copyrighted. Bill C-61 is not a mirror image of U.S. copyright laws. Our Bill is made-in-Canada with different exceptions for educators, consumers and others, which bring us into line with more than 60 countries including Japan, France, Germany, and Australia. It would not empower border agents to seize your iPod or laptop at border crossings, contrary to recent public speculation.

Our Government is the first to specifically allow Canadians to record their TV and radio shows to enjoy at different times—without infringing copyright. Our reform will also permit consumers to copy music onto devices such as MP3 players, and copy books, newspapers, videos and photos into different formats. All of this is illegal under the current copyright legislation. Last but certainly not least, our bill limits at $500 the amount of statutory damages that individuals may be liable to pay if they infringed copyright for private use, provided the material is not protected by a digital lock. (Currently, statutory damages could be as high as $20,000 for a single infringement).

We believe this copyright reform promotes innovation and competition in a digital, knowledge-based economy. Our role as Government is to set the stage for business to succeed and the economy to flourish. In short, to create the right environment for Canada to prosper by setting the right policies and this copyright bill accomplishes this.

The proposed amendments would implement:

  • New exceptions for Canadian consumers, so they can record TV shows for later viewing; copy legally acquired music onto other devices, such as MP3 players or cellphones; and make backup copies of legally acquired books, newspapers, videocassettes and photographs onto devices they own;
  • New rights and protections for copyright owners, tailored to the Internet, to encourage participation in the online economy, as well as stronger legal means to address Internet piracy;
  • Exceptions for some educational and research purposes to promote innovation and enrich the educational experience;
  • Clarity for Internet service providers on their roles and responsibilities in relation to copyright, in order to support the growth of Internet services in Canada; and
  • Rights for photographers equal to those of other creators.

Bill C-61 creates a situation where it is now legal for you to transfer your music to a digital media or to record your favourite TV show for later viewing, which is considered copyright infringement under the current legislation. It is also illegal, under the current legislation, to pick a digital lock, with fines much higher than what is proposed. This bill maintains the illegality of circumventing a digital lock, should a manufacturer wish to put one in place, but limits the fines to a reasonable level for average Canadians.

Thank you again for your correspondence. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact my office.


Pierre Poilievre
M.P. for Nepean Carleton
Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

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What is he smoking?

It is most certainly not illegal to pick a digital lock in Canada. Even if it were, that isn't a good thing. Under what circumstances do we allow manufacturers the right to restrict what we do with the materials we purchase from them?

Can a car dealership sue you for going to another, 'unauthorized' mechanic? They might be able to cancel your warranty, sure, but can they sue you? Of course not! Why should it ever be ok for a company to tell me that I can't do something with something I own?

Standard policy problem..

Please remember: many bureaucrats and politicians believe that the only digital locks we are talking about are locks applied to copyrightable content by the copyright holder. They do not realize that most of the real conversation and controversy is about digital locks applied to devices by someone other than its owner.

We need to bring bureaucrats and politicians past this critical hump before they can understand any of the real issues. This is why our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights and related educational tools are so important.

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