James Moore says copyright reform bill likely in the fall

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday. Liberal MP Scott Simms asked specific questions about the future of Canadian copyright reform. Moore confirmed the shared responsibility for copyright with Industry Minister Tony Clement. He indicated that the timing for a new bill was still being worked out, but that the fall was more likely than the spring. He also acknowledged some of the concerns associated with Bill C-61, though argued that it moved in the "right direction."

Moore's opening remarks are also noteworthy, since they demonstrate that the Clement-Moore duo may be the most technologically savvy ministers in the Industry-Heritage portfolios in recent memory. Notes Moore:

Rapidly changing technologies are having a huge impact on the sector; they are bringing challenges but also new opportunities. There are now more ways to reach audiences--for instance social networking websites such as Facebook and Myspace. In fact, 34% of Canadians under the age of 20 use such sites to discover new music and art. The cultural industry is reaching them there--building artists’ profiles online instead of advertising through the traditional means such as flyers, radio and television.

Fewer people are buying CDs because they want more flexibility and choice. Instead of buying a whole album, they want to pick and choose their songs. This is something the industry is starting to deal with. They need to do more, and I will continue working with them to ensure we have a sustainable policy framework.

And later:

As well, we need policies that focus on innovation so that the cultural sector can continue to be a strong driver of economic growth. I believe the National Film Board is on the right track here. In honour of its 70th anniversary, the Board has put the better part of 900 films online free of charge. Day or night, anywhere in the country, Canadians now have access to this important part of their cultural heritage.

The hearing is only currently available as a webcast, which is worth watching as Moore comes across as far more personable and informed than his predecessor.

Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.

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