The Osgoode Hall Review of Law and Policy focuses on Canadian copyright consultations

The Osgoode Hall Review of Law and Policy focuses on Canadian copyright consultations

Adrian Scotchmer is the Editor-in-Chief of the Osgoode Hall Review of Law and Policy. 

The latest issue of the Osgoode Hall Review of Law and Policy may be of interest to readers of IP Osgoode as it concerns the recent Copyright Consultations held by the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. On July 20, 2009, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages launched a consultation process seeking Canadians’ views on the appropriate nature, extent, and scope of copyright reform. The Conservatives’ previous attempt at copyright reform, in the form of Bill C-61, encountered significant opposition but ultimately died on the order paper when an election was called. In an effort to improve on that bill and to respond to objections that the process underlying the introduction of Bill C-61 was insufficiently transparent, the government launched a consultation process. The public could participate in this process by making written submissions, participating in the online discussion forum, attending one of the public town halls in Montreal or Toronto, or by attending one of the invitation-only round tables.

Canadians were asked five key questions by the Ministers:

  1. How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
  2. Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
  3. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
  4. What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
  5. What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?

The latest issue of the Review aims to help elucidate the key areas of debate surrounding these critical questions facing the drafters of new copyright legislation. This issue is the product of a review of the thousands of submissions to the consultative process. It attempts to provide a collection of the most well-written, well-supported, and convincingly argued submissions from a spectrum of perspectives on copyright reform, arranged in the manner of a friendly debate.

In addition to providing another forum for a robust academic debate about copyright policy, the Review’s aim has been practical in nature; it seeks to mitigate the enormity of the Ministers’ task in reviewing the plethora of submissions by providing a collection of some of the most cogent arguments that should be addressed in any attempt at copyright reform. Among the issues addressed in this issue are the appropriate scope and nature of: the overall purpose of the Copyright Act; the definition of works; fair dealing; the public domain; the copyright term and Crown copyright; library and educational exceptions; parody and satire provisions; provisions for persons with disabilities; back-up copy provisions; archiving and migrating format provisions; anti-circumvention provisions and digital rights management; technological neutrality; intermediary provisions; statutory damages; border controls; standard-form contracts; expanded or additional levies; ownership; WIPO implementation; and modeling after international experience.

However, in no way is this issue comprehensive in its scope or in its presentation of various perspectives. In particular, the numerous quality submissions by interested citizens must not be overlooked by the Ministers as they seek to craft a bill that best strikes a balance between the relevant stakeholders - be they creators, users, or owners. The challenge facing the government is formidable, compounded by the extensive erudite public discourse they have helped to foster. As the challenge of crafting this new legislation continues, the Board is hopeful that copyright reform will not be driven by the interests of the loudest or the most powerful simply because they possess those traits. In the words of Professor D’Agostino “[t]here is a difference between evidence-guided reform versus reform guided by the loudest voices. The loudest voices don't equal the soundest voices.” Instead, the Board hopes that sound arguments advancing the best interests of the Canadian public will carry the day, and that this special edition of the Review will shed light and invite discussion on some of those arguments.