Liberal Hedy Fry includes copyright in election Mail Out

Bruno Godin (constituent in Vancouver Center) posted to the Vancouver Fair Copyright discussion list the text of an election mail out from incumbent Hedy Fry.

C-61: Copyright

Bill C-61, the Conservative government's Copyright Bill was recently tabled in Parliament.  In principle, this bill is necessary: Canada is signatory to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaties, but lags behind other industrialised nations in domestic copyright protection laws.  However, as it stands, C-61 is seriously flawed.  Copyright legislation should balance creators' rights to fair reimbursement for intellectual property and consumer's need to have timely access to creative works.  In the digital age, this brings a new and complex challenge.

The government should have fist sought input into the Bill from all stakeholders: creators, industry, lawyers, consumers, digital technologists, and the online community.  They did not.

This Bill criminalizes consumers who make legitimate back-up copies, or change formats. Transferring music from a legally bought CD to an iPod, or playing a DVD purchased in another region would be illegal. This could chill purchase of new technology and discourage innovation.  C-61 unwittingly hamstrings educators, students, academics, libraries, documentary and news producers.  "Fair dealing" and anti-circumvention should distinguish between commercial and non-profit use.

I have been meeting with stakeholders to find ways to amend the flaws of C-61.

Bruno noted that the emphasis (underlines and bold) was in the original.

This notice should be put in the context of the Liberal Bill C-60 which Ms. Fry has articulated many times strong support for. Both bills were based on the same consultations from 2001/2002, and thus if the Conservative C-61 can be said to have been authored without adequately consulting then the same was true of Liberal C-60.

"In principle, this bill is necessary: Canada is signatory to World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) treaties, but lags behind other industrialised nations in domestic copyright protection laws."

This is false in two ways. We are under no obligation to ratify these treaties, and Canada does not lag behind other countries on copyright. It is true that there are a few few narrow issues not covered in Canadian copyright law such as ISP liability and anti-circumvention. Dealing with ISP liability would be simple to deal with as a separate issue, and legal protection for technological measures has no legitimate place in federal copyright law. For the narrow areas where legal protection for technological measures are appropriate, they are in the context of eCommerce and contract law which is provincial jurisdiction.

In nearly every other way Canadian law is already more tilted in favour of incumbent copyright holders (IE: is already unbalanced), which is really what is meant by 'strong' copyright law. (See: Canadians fed US-style copyright legislation? I wish!) Ms. Fry has spoken about the need for balanced copyright in the past, but is unwilling to recognize that doing so would involve expanding Fair Dealings to a living US-style Fair Use regime given it is the users-rights side of the copyright equation that is currently lacking.

While C-61 was clear that it legally protected both access controls applied to content and use controls applied to third-party software/devices, the Liberal Bill C-60 was far more vague. The complaint that Ms. Fry had about the chill against new technology and innovation, as well as the harms to educators, students, academics, libraries, documentary and news producers, also applied to Liberal Bill C-60. Ms. Fry speaks about these issues as if she opposes what the Conservatives have done in C-61, but anyone looking up her past statements in Hansard (in the house and in Heritage Committee) would note that often her complaint was that the policy didn't go far enough.

If Ms. Fry has now changed her mind on this policy direction, she should make that more clear. She may look good opposing the current government, but potential voters shouldn't confuse this with her actually being an ally.

I agree that 'a' copyright bill is necessary, but what is necessary is a bill that clarifies the rights of the average citizen to more easily participate in culture and to have their information technology property rights fully protected. We need to modernize copyright law which was authored as a tool between large commercial entities, and make it reasonable for non-commercial and citizen participation. That certainly is not "this" Conservative Bill C-61, nor was it the Liberal C-60 bill that was headed in the same wrong direction -- even if slower.