The national copyright consultation is down to the final five weeks and over the past week, there has been a growing number of op-eds and public commentary that provide Canadians with a good sense of what the traditional copyright lobby is pushing for as part of the consultation. While some have expressed skepticism about the consultation process, the reality is that the risk of saying nothing is simply far too high. Consider:
- CRIA and CMPDA lobbyist Barry Sookman, in a National Post op-ed written with Stephen Stohn, labels Canada a piracy heaven while calling for "graduated response" (the euphemism for three strikes and a user loses Internet access for a year), anti-circumvention legislation, ISP liability, notice and takedown, secondary liability for sites like the Pirate Bay, and limited fair dealing expansion rather than a more flexible approach.
- In a second piece, Sookman and Glen Bloom are quoted as saying the consultation isn't needed, claiming that "endless consultation is useless", that Canadian law is an embarrassment, and that we should just get on with WIPO ratification.
- ACTRA seeks an expansion of the private copying levy to other media such as iPods.
- Access Copyright warns its members that the "debate takes aim at your livelihood."
While there have been op-eds providing a counter-perspective (notably Olivier Charbonneau in Le Devoir), the picture that is emerging is precisely what CIRPA head Duncan McKie suggested on the eve of the consultation - "C-61 didn't go far enough."
There is only one way to counter this. The roundtables have to-date been balanced and there are many submissions that express the need for a fair copyright approach. Indeed, last week the Manitoba Music Industry Association distanced itself from CRIA in saying its members are not interested in anti-circumvention legislation. However, the big lobbying efforts are clearly aimed at expanding C-61 by adding three-strikes and you're out as well as new levies to a Canadian DMCA. Canadians simply cannot afford to stay silent - Speak Out On Copyright today.
Michael Geist is a law professor and the Canada Research Chair in Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa.