Dear Ms. Richards:
Thank you for your correspondence concerning Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.
As you are aware the previous Liberal government had tabled a Bill on this issue but it did not come to debate because of the election. The current Conservative Bill has been eagerly awaited since they announced their intentions in December 2007.
Canada has signed two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties, but has not yet ratified them. The last time the Canadian Copyright Act was amended was in 1997 but these amendments did not address the WIPO treaty agreements. In the interim, communications technology has expanded rapidly. Everyone is in agreement that the Copyright Act has to be amended to reflect the impact of digital technology.
Bill C-61 should strike a balance between the right of creators to be reimbursed for their creative, intellectual property and the desire for consumers to have access to these creative works.
Indeed digital technology serves both the creator and the consumer well. It increases the reach and distribution of creative works as never imagined, before; which is precisely what creators need and it gives consumers easy access to creative works that can entertain, enrich, and educate.
This Bill does not serve either consumer or creator well. It prescribes narrow, punitive solutions to a complex problem. In fact the Bill could very well have the effect of curbing the use of digital technology, to the extent that it becomes useless. This would be a pity! As well implementation of the measures in the Bill would be nearly impossible, unless one abandons all privacy rights or imposes locks on the digital technology that severely limits its application. How to monetize digital technology to reward the creator and allow free and open use by the consumer is challenging.
As Liberals we believe that there should have been extensive consultations with legal experts, creators, distributors, and conventional and digital media industries to find the right balance of solutions. It is typical of the Harper government that they do not consult but impose.
Liberals intend to begin these consultations over the course of the summer so that when the Bill comes to the House we can propose appropriate amendments. Moreover we believe that the Bill should be further subject to public scrutiny if it ever gets to committee stage. It could be that after we consult with the expert groups they believe that Bill C-61 is unsalvageable, in which case one would have to vote against the Bill and rewrite a new one.
These are exciting and challenging times in media communications technology that can broaden the consumption of arts and cultural products, in a manner unheard of since the invention of the printing press. The challenges seemed impossible then but solutions were found that led to a Renaissance of art and culture. We are at a similar point in history, now. We must not use a sledge hammer.
Once again, thank you for writing. Please feel free to contact my office if I may be of further assistance.
Hon. Hedy Fry, M.P.
While I’ve never been a big fan of Hedy Fry, it’s encouraging to see that she’s on the right side on this issue.