Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We Will Never Know What the Tories Were Going to Do on Copyright

Howard Knopf has a good post on what the Industry Minister said in Calgary that may have been over the line on what signing a treaty actually obliges a country to do.

While Howard also says that there is some debate over what constitutes a minimal level, he did say that the maximalist demands are not in Canada's interest.

I wish for everyone paying attention at the moment, that the Conservatives Bill was put to first reading (sharing this opinion with Russell McOrmand). We do not know really what the Conservative's view is in proposed law and without that, it cannot be differentiated well from the Liberal's prior views in their bill. The Liberals in a minority parliament at least had the guts to present a bill, that was widely panned. The nouveau Tories cum Reformers? They are playing poker with us at the moment.

The election game strategy is on in Ottawa and one bill hanging in the balance is the Act to Reform the Copyright Act, lately seen as an untabled "Bill C-2" on the current agenda. If there was a book on this, I would bet that Act is now tied up in election strategies, and this Bill is highly unlikely of ever being seen, in the House, or elsewhere.

It leaves a mysterious abyss, on what the Conservatives' were actually going to do in light of their stated "promises" and by removing the issue from an election, ensures that the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group does not get any extra energy with "just" 40,000 members to date. With the wrong words in any reforming Act, that group could double or triple and who knows where it could stop. Simply, no bright minded minority government would risk this. And they do seem to know of the Facebook group, thanks to those pesky Calgary members who braced a white out, to again see Minister Prentice and ask questions [Kempton Lam, Fair Copyright for Canada, "Order of Fair Copyright" Medalist Northworthy Nominee!].

The Conservatives are supposed to be bright but watching the House of Commons debates today, that brightness may be a perceptual overstatement. The bottom line for a minority government is that it must govern, and the House is far too ornery on both sides for it to get any real work done. If there is no work, its election time [Did Harper eat too much on holidays? Will he colour his hair, again? Has Dion gotten taller, and a new barber? Has he gotten English elocution lessons so the ROC can understand what he is saying?]

All I can say is, pity the new bureaucrats who were close to closing this file for the government, with the latest unknown spin, after the Minister of Industry took charge of the file from the Canadian Heritage Minister. Who knows, in a Liberal minority government, will it go back to the Canadian Heritage Minister?

This is tough too on the lobbyists (big tears), to know where to send their people and money to help elect the right folks. For them, especially the known foreign interests, this will be a very interesting Web 2.0 election, with 40,000 Facebooker's well able to do the digging to find out what they do, and who they support, probably at about the same time as they do.

Update: Michael Geist's sources indicate the imminent arrival of the "Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright" - a who's who in Canadian Business (including some foreign controlled entities). If this is not a mirage, this is just another reason why we can expect the use of an election for the Tories to escape saying a "Canadian DMCA" is their plan in legislation. Certainly not before an election with this kind of opposition, and if that is their plan, they should make it public as part of their election campaign, squarely. After this development, I personally cannot see a chance of this bill hitting the house now till after the Budget, if this House makes it that far.

Update 2: No mirage. A storm is a brewing as more members have come forward than indicated in its original title. The full document titled "The Balanced Copyright Coalition is a coalition of telecommunications, broadcasting, Internet, technology, research and security organizations interested in the development of Canada’s Copyright Act" has morphed into including the Retail Council of Canada, and who knows who else, when the group goes "Gold" in public. Google also has a blog on this group and what it wants.

The list of members at February 12, 2008:

Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB)
Canadian Association of Internet Providers, a division of CATAlliance (CAIP)
Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA)
Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association (CWTA)
Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA)
Retail Council of Canada (RCC)
Third Brigade
Yahoo! Canada
Cogeco Cable
MTS Allstream
Rogers Communications Inc.

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