As Canada's Industry Minister Jim Prentice prepares to import the US's failed DMCA copyright regime to Canada, Michael Geist has a counterproposal. Geist wants all of Canada's members of Parliament to take a pledge not to undermine fair dealing (the Canadian analog to the US's fair use):
The pledge is simple:
I will not introduce, support, or endorse any copyright bill that, either directly or indirectly, undermines or weakens the Copyright Act's fair dealing provision.
Fair dealing, which the Supreme Court of Canada has described as a user right, covers uses such as research, private study, news reporting, and criticism. I have argued that the provision should be expanded. For the purposes of the pledge, I am only asking MPs to do no harm. Fair dealing is a critically important part of the copyright balance that plays a crucial role for education and free speech and it is widely accepted internationally (indeed the parallel provision in the U.S. is far broader). No Canadian MP or party should support or introduce legislation that would weaken it. If you are looking to send a follow-up to Industry Minister Jim Prentice or to your local MP, then consider asking them one straight forward question – will they take the copyright pledge?