Saturday, July 11, 2009

Let the Consultations Begin

Below is the invitation that some parties received on Friday, July 11, 2009 for the forthcoming summer consultations on copyright reform.

While I am optimistic that officials and Ministers want to do the right thing, I have serious concerns about whether the timing and the process that are underway here can fulfill the Ministers stated intentions It is now mid July and this consultation has just been announced to a limited number of interested parties and will end on September 13th, 2009.

Some parties will be invited to roundtables. Who, what, when, where, why some parties and not others and how this will unfold are still unknown.

Others clearly have not been and will not be so invited. Those not invited will have to be content with making submissions through an online process or through the “webcast town-hall” - concerning which more information will presumably be forthcoming on July 20, 2009.

The good news is that “all consultation activities, whether presented online, during a roundtable, or via the webcast town-hall, will be made accessible to the public”, as I recently suggested.

Note carefully the wording:
You are cordially invited to attend a roundtable discussion. Further information regarding the particular event to which you are being invited, including the city, date, time of day and address of the venue, will be provided to you very soon. Please note that this invitation is specific to you and that substitutions are not permitted.
Emphasis added.
Whether or not many parties can show up for the round tables well prepared at the time and place designated by the government in the middle of the summer on short notice is will be interesting. Of course, this will be no problem for the major dedicated special interest lobby groups who have spent millions and are prepared to spend millions more and have lots of people and lobbyists and lawyers and lawyer/lobbyists and lobbyist/lawyers and GR and PR people on retainer to deal with this process. It’s an important investment for them and they hope it will pay off in the billions.

This could be a big problem,howver, for the rest of the stakeholders who are not full-time copyright lobbyists or copyright focussed special interest trade associations or collectives and who might have thought that summertime was summertime.

This suggests that the Government is in a very big hurry to introduce and pass a bill before the next election. If it’s a good bill, that could be a good thing. If it is going to pass, it had better be a lot better than Bill C-61. The good news is that Bill C-61 could be drastically improved simply by removing certain special interest driven chunks from it - which is not a lot of long and hard drafting work. And by introducing a few choice words here and there such as “such as” and “satire and parodoy” in the fair dealing provisions, for example. This would also not need a lot of long and hard drafting work.

There is unsettling precedent for copyright legislation being the last and rushed legislative act before the lights of Parliament are turned off prior to an election in Canada. Let’s hope that this consultation and the drafting and committee process for the presumably resulting bill will somehow provide enough input for the Government to come up with a Bill that will be in the best interests of Canadian interests and not special interests.

Here's the announcement that some parties have received:
Please see attachment.

S.V.P voir la pièce-jointe

(See attached file: Roundtables Invitation English.doc)(See attached file:
Roundtables Invitation French.doc)

Alexandra Hutton
Office of the Honourable James Moore / Cabinet du l'honorable James Moore
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages / Ministre du
Patrimoine Canadien et des Langues Officielles
Tel: 819-997-7788
Fax / Télécopieur: 819-994-5975
Email / Courriel: alexandra.hutton@pch.gc.ca

SENT ON BEHALF OF MINISTERS MOORE AND CLEMENT.

------
Invitation - Roundtable

On July 20th, 2009, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry and the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages will launch nation-wide consultations to solicit Canadians’ opinions on the important issue of copyright reform.

The Government of Canada has committed to modernizing Canada’s copyright laws, to provide meaningful rights for creators and promote the use of digital technology by its citizens. We are consulting to ensure that all perspectives are taken into account in an open and transparent process, to help deliver new legislation in the Fall that is forward-looking, reflects Canadian values, and strengthens Canada’s ability to compete in the global digital economy

The consultations will run between July 20th and September 13th, 2009.

Over this period, the Ministers will hold a number of roundtable discussions on copyright reform at various locations across the country.

You are cordially invited to attend a roundtable discussion. Further information regarding the particular event to which you are being invited, including the city, date, time of day and address of the venue, will be provided to you very soon. Please note that this invitation is specific to you and that substitutions are not permitted.

Please note, as well, that the roundtable will be recorded, and subsequently posted online in both official languages.

In addition to attending the roundtable discussion, we encourage you to participate in the online consultation, which will be open to all Canadians starting July 20th, 2009. You may join in on the online discussion forum or share your views with us more formally by posting a submission. Details will follow soon.

We want to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to join in the discussion of the different ideas and views raised over the course of the consultations – for this reason, all consultation activities, whether presented online, during a roundtable, or via the webcast town-hall, will be made accessible to the public.

To RSVP for the roundtable, and for more information, please contact Ms. Kerala Levitt by email at Kerala.levitt@pch.gc.ca.
HK

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