More grim news about Canada's DMCA, the coming copyright law that manages to be even worse than the disastrous, ten-year-old American Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Industry Minister Jim Prentice has announced that the public-interest questions raised by the bill will be hived off into a committee that meets after the law is enacted.
This kind of committee typically takes years to get anything done — two years to meet, two years to consider recommendations, two years to consult on proposals, two years to introduce legislation. Canada only introduces new copyright law every ten years or so.
This means that Canadians will likely suffer for a decade under Prentice's badly thought-out legislation before anything is done to see to it that the law is balanced to take in the interests of Canada's schools, disabled people, children, archivists, artists, scholars and other users of copyrighted works. Given that Canada's arts community has come out against this kind of legislation, you have to wonder: just who is this for? The US-led multinational labels in the "Canadian" Recording Industry Association? (Remember, in the first ten years of the US DMCA, 20,000 American music fans were sued and not one penny was paid to artists as a result, nor did file sharing decrease).
Prentice has refused to appear on the CBC's Search Engine programme to discuss his bill. He's gone into hiding, spinning out unconvincing little sops like this one to try to save his bacon — after all, the last two MPs who tried to introduce a Canadian DMCA lost their jobs.
If the introduction of a Canadian DMCA were not bad enough, sources now indicate that Industry Minister Jim Prentice plans to delay addressing the copyright concerns of individual Canadians for years. Rather than including consumer concerns such as flexible fair dealing, time shifting, format shifting, parody, and the future of the private copying levy within the forthcoming bill, Prentice will instead strike a Copyright Review Panel to consider future copyright reforms. Modeled after the Telecom Policy Review Panel, the CRP will presumably take a year or two to consult Canadians on various copyright issues. In all likelihood, the government will then take another year or two to consider the recommendations, another year to propose potential reforms, another year or two to consult on those proposals, and another year or two to finally introduce legislation. Given that Canada has historically only passed major copyright reform once every ten years, Prentice will be in his early 60s and likely collecting his Member of Parliament pension by the time Canadians see copyright reform that addresses fair use.
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