Yesterday the federal government tabled Bill-61, an Act to Amend the Copyright Act (contents, full text html, full text pdf, "fact sheets").
The pdf version is over 50 pages and like many other analysists, commentators and bloggers, I am working diligently to try to digest and unravel the full meaning of this exceptionally complex document.
Like many of the other initial reactions from organizations and commentators who generally take a public interest approach to copyright (Canadian Library Association, Canadian Association of University Teachers, Digital Copyright Canada, Copyright Watch, Canadian internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, Documentary Organization of Canada , Appropriation Art, opensourcecimena.org, Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Music Creators Coalition, Laura Murray, Howard Knopf, Jeremy de Beer and Michael Geist) my initial reaction to the bill is one of disappointment, frustration and opposition.
On a first quick cursory reading, it becomes evident that this is a complicated piece of special interest legislation that cuts short many of the rights that the public already enjoys under the existing Copyright Act as it has been interpreted by the courts.
There's disappointment because, even though it was roundly expected that the bill was likely to be a reaction to pressure from the US government and large entertainment companies, there was always the slight glimmer of hope that in delaying the tabling of the bill, the government was finally listening to what average Canadians were saying. So there is some disappointment that this was not the case.
There's frustration because of the sheer complexity bordering on obfuscation represented by the text of the bill itself. Laws need to be simple and easily understandable by those who are expected to comply with them. It is frustrating that the government has chosen to take such a complex approach to drafting the bill.
And finally there is opposition. This is a bad bill, my initial sense is that it is not a viable piece of legislation, it is unworkable, and it is merely a place holder so the government can appease its critics in the Bush Administration and in the large info-tainment industries. It is certainly not a "Made in Canada" approach and incorporates many of the worst aspects of the US DMCA. It's also a bad bill because it calls into question many of the existing practices and judicial interpretations of the Copyright Act which have been very positive. And it is deceptive because all the while, the government continues to claim the bill is balanced and addresses the needs of all stakeholders.
So I will be spending the weekend working through the details of the bill and certainly encourage others to do so as well.
Tags: Bill C-61 Copyright