Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Copyright Consultation in the Peterborough Pasture

Yesterday, I attended the last scheduled Round Table of the 2009 summer Canadian Coypright Consultations. It was held at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall in Peterborough, Ontario. This was presumably the “pasture” to which Minister Clement referred. I did manage to find it with my GPS.

First, the good news. It was very ably chaired by Dean Del Mastro, who is the MP from Peterborough, and the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore and a member of the Heritage Committee. Nicole Frenette, Drew Olsen, Tanya Peatt from Canadian Heritage and other officials were also present.

Mr. Del Mastro was very well prepared and very skillful and diplomatic in his moderation. And, indeed, the speakers were very well balanced. There were reps from the library, ISP, telco, museum, artist management (for some very well known Canadian music stars), fine arts, converged media, photography, First Nations, etc. communities. I didn’t get all the names, but the transcript will be out in a couple of days.

The discussion was civilized but quite lively. Everyone got a chance to say what they wanted to say. Mr. Del Mastro had some very good questions.

Indeed, he put me on the spot by suggesting that some would find that my remarks (posted here) reflected “non-starter” positions and would even question whether these positions are consistent with the WIPO treaties. I was naturally astonished that anyone would have found my quite reasonable suggestion of six ways to simplify and expedite Canadian copyright revision and WIPO ratification to be a “non-starter”, but in these days where an AF of M spokesman finds Charlie Angus’ quest for “balanced” copyright to be “disgusting”, I suppose that nothing should surprise me. I assured Mr. Del Mastro that these positions were not only restrained but WIPO compliant. And that less controversial stakeholders than me have taken similar positions, especially on circumvention and flexible fair dealing. Indeed, on format shifting, it seems that even the RIAA and CRIA both agree with me.

Anyway, a good job on the part of Mr. Del Mastro and PCH officials. A good day generally. And no security guards!

My only criticism and the only “bad news”? Simply that, at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall. there was no beer. ;-) Beer is a part of what makes Royal Canadian Legion halls legendary. Even afterwards, the officials were resolute in their refusal to open the bar. There must be some Treasury Board rule or other bureaucratic barrier against open bars at official copyright consultations. Ironically, my long since defunct musical career started with my first public performance as a clarinetist at a Royal Canadian Legion Hall in Woodstock, Ontario at the tender age of about ten. Of course, I didn’t get any beer then, either. One of these days, I’ll get to have a free beer at a Royal Canadian Legion Hall. Now, at least, I’m old enough.


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