The long road of Canadian copyright reform is nearing an end as the Bill C-11 committee concluded hearing from witnesses yesterday and indicated that it will begin a "clause-by-clause" review of the bill starting on Monday. While there will still be some additional opportunities for debate - third reading in the House of Commons, Senate review - the reality is that next week's discussion will largely determine the future of Canadian copyright law.
For the thousands of Canadians that have participated in consultations and sent letters to their MPs, there is reason for concern. On one side, there are the major copyright lobby groups who have put forward a dizzying array of demands that would overhaul Bill C-11 including requiring Internet providers to block access to foreign sites, take down content without court oversight, and disclose subscriber information without a warrant. On top of those demands, the industry also wants individuals to face unlimited statutory damages and pay a new iPod tax.
On the other side, there are groups such as Access Copyright that are calling on their members to urge the government and committee MPs to undo the Supreme Court of Canada's CCH decision on fair dealing. While many of these demands are clearly far beyond "technical amendments" and should be ruled out of order, the last minute push must be met by Canadians who favour a balanced approach to copyright reform that retains the best of Bill C-11 and makes some modest changes to digital locks, the one remaining area of concern. My message to the MPs focuses on three simple principles:
1. No SOPA-style amendments. That means no website blocking, no warrantless disclosure of subscriber information, no expanded enabler provision, no unlimited statutory damages, no iPod tax, and no content takedowns.
2. Maintain the fair dealing balance found in C-11 by expanding the provision to include education, parody, and satire and relying on the Supreme Court's six-factor test to ensure that the dealing is fair.
3. Amend the digital lock rules by following the Canadian Library Association's recommended change linking circumvention to actual copyright infringement.
The message is going to my local MP, the Ministers and to Bill C-11 committee members.
Closing Time on Canadian Copyright: Help Stop the Final Push for SOPA-Style Reforms & Efforts to Gut Fair Dealing (contains links to contact your MP and the committee members)