Canadian record industry won't say what it wants

Michael Geist:
Last week, the Canadian Recording Industry Association appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage with discussion that focused largely on copyright reform (media coverage of the appearance here). While copyright was the key issue, what was striking was CRIA's reluctance to actually specify what reforms it supports. That may sound unusual, but a review of recent public statements suggests that it is actually quite typical. In recent years, CRIA has become very reluctant to provide specific views on reforms, seemingly relying instead on the sort of backdoor, lobbyist-inspired meetings that are the talk of Ottawa.

The transcript has not been posted yet, however, a review of the unofficial transcript shows that CRIA President Graham Henderson provided no legal specifics in his opening statement. During questioning, he was repeatedly avoided responding directly when asked what his organization wants.

This is hardly the first time CRIA has avoided taking a public stand on specific copyright reforms. During last summer's copyright consultation, it was one of the only major copyright organizations that did not even bother with an individual submission.

Why does CRIA say virtually nothing specific about what it actually seeks? Based on lobbying records, perhaps it is because it saves its real comments for what takes place behind closed doors. There are 19 records of meetings for CRIA representatives with a wide range of government officials including Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore - the iPadLock Minister - from the period of August 2008 to February 2010 (or 19 entries over a 19 month period). Even the content of those meetings may be kept secret. A recent access to information request on a presentation by Barry Sookman on ISP exceptions in Bill C-61 to government officials in 2009 excluded virtually all substantive materials on the grounds that it "contains commercially valuable information."

Why Is CRIA Reluctant To Provide Public Specifics About Copyright Reform?
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