Copyright Bill Expected Today

The new copyright bill is expected today. There has been much anticipation about what it might contain. That is understandable given that several failed and controversial attempts have been made to pass a reform bill over the last few years. And that there were extensive hearings around the prior bill last summer that attracted a significant amount of commentary. And that digital media is considered by many (e.g. the Canada 3.0 initiative) to be a crucial part of the economic future of Canada.

The anti-spam and privacy bills introduced last week are important bills that have effect on business and individuals alike. But the copyright bill fundamentally affects how every Canadian consumes media. 

Roughly speaking, copyright interests line up in two camps.

First, the entertainment industry, which wants tight controls on copying, including things like digital locks and notice and takedown provisions.

Second, consumers who want less control by media providers, and broader fair dealing rights.

It will be interesting to see what the bill looks like, what the reactions will be, and what changes may result from that reaction. Fundamentally it is about balancing the various interests to give the right amount of protection to creators, while at the same time giving users reasonable rights to do the things we are accustomed to in this century, such as time shifting, format shifting, and perhaps downloading. Clarity is important, as is language that doesn’t antiquate itself by tying it to specific technologies.

My message today is that this bill is important, and worthy of close, thoughtful scrutiny and discussion.

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