Word on the street is that Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice is about to try to shove the Canadian version of the US's failed Digital Millennium Copyright Act through Parliament very
soon, and very
fast. He made plans to do this before, and the overwhelming public outcry caused him to shelve them, but now he figures we're all distracted and we'll let him get away with it (especially since he's made a couple of cosmetic changes to the bill that he'll use to show how much he really, really cares about us poor Canadians, rather than the US government and entertainment companies who are giving him marching orders).
The Tories promised that they wouldn't do any more treaty-law without public consultation, but Prentice stalwartly refuses to have any public consultation on his plans, despite outcry from industry (he's the Minister of Industry, remember?), artists' groups, library groups, educator groups, and public interest groups. He just keeps on ploughing ahead with his half-baked plan to follow the US off the same stupid copyright cliff it leapt off of in 1998 when it passed the DMCA, a law which has done nothing to reduce infringement, but which has screwed up libraries, competition, and education, and has led to lawsuits against tens of thousands of ordinary citizens.
So it looks like we're going to have to do it again: we're going to have to write to Prentice, rally at his office, phone him and let him know that we're still watching and still paying attention, and that we still demand that he listen to the public -- the way his party promised they would -- before he brings down this law.
If the exceptions are undermined by the Canadian DMCA provisions, why is Prentice throwing them in? The answer is pretty clear. Prentice hopes that the media coverage will focus on these new "modernizing" provisions that he will claim benefit consumers, rather than on the DMCA-style anti-circumvention provisions that will lock down consumer products, harm research and security, raise privacy concerns, and create a restrictive new legal environment.
With the bill seemingly only days away, now is the time to again tell Prentice and your local MP that Canadians will not be so easily deceived. Countries such as New Zealand and Israel have recently enacted legislation with far more balance than what Prentice has in mind. It only takes a few seconds to send an email to Prentice, the Prime Minister, and your local MP, letting them know that Canadians won't be deceived by a Canadian DMCA and that Canadian copyright reform should reflect fair copyright principles (and after you click send, print out the email and drop it in the mail without a stamp, addressed to House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A0A6).
Katherine Forrest, an Obama-appointed federal judge in New York, has overturned a bedrock principle of internet law, ruling that embedding a copyrighted work can constitute a copyright infringement on the part of the entity doing the embedding.
SOPA may be a distant memory for the Internet community, but Canada now finds itself in its own SOPA moment. Telecom giant Bell leads a coalition of companies and associations in seeking support for a wide-ranging website blocking plan that could have similarly harmful effects on the Internet, representing a set-back for privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality. While that need not be the choice - Canada’s Copyright Act already features some of the world’s toughest anti-piracy laws - the government and the CRTC, Canada's telecom regulator, are faced with deciding on the merits of a website blocking plan that is best described as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process.
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