Monday, 19 March 2012

PWAC National Office update on Bill C-11 ...

Bulletin # 3.7 Copyright Modernization Bill pushed through committee
The members of the Legislative Committee studying Bill C-11 began the clause by clause study of the legislation on Monday, March 12th and had completed their work by 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13th. The Conservative majority on the committee rejected all 17 amendments put forward by the NDP members and 15 by the Liberals. They passed 8 amendments of their own.The legislation now returns to the House of Commons for Third Reading and then will go to the Senate.
The Government was true to its word in only making a small number of technical amendments. All amendments presented by the opposition were defeated. No amendments whatsoever were made to any of the education or library exceptions. The government relations professionals with whom we worked through the process said they had never seen such haste taken over such a complex bill.
Two technical amendments improve the Bill in favour of rightholders. First the "enablement" provision designed to go after the bit-torrent type websites was tightened to make it easier for rightsholders to rely on this provision to shut-down sites that primarily exist for the purpose of enabling acts of copyright infringement. Second the private purpose exception was clarified to ensure that the private purpose in question must be that of the individual that owns the original copy.
Both the NDP and the Liberal Party had plans to introduce an amendment to the fair dealing provision that would see the 6 CCH factors enshrined in the legislation. Given our discomfort with the CCH factors and our hope that the Supreme Court of Canada will improve upon these factors in the K-12 case, enshrining the CCH decision would be worse than doing nothing at all. The Book industry pulled its efforts together and combined them with those of the broader creative community to convince first the Liberal Party and then the NDP to not present such an amendment. While this was a small victory, it is a victory none the less. Had one of he opposition parties presented such an amendment, rumour has it that the Government may have voted in favour of the amendment making fair dealing for education more difficult for us to work on improving it through the court process.
The C-11 Legislative Committee is expected to report to the House of Commons by March 29th at the latest (likely earlier). The Bill will then be referred to the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. It is worth noting that the Conservatives have a majority in the Senate as well and this will make it very difficult to make any changes to the Bill in the Senate.
While the outcome is not as we had hoped,the "book" industry alliance (including PWAC, TWUC, CANSCAIP and both english and french publishers organizations) has done at tremendous job and has worked collaboratively in an unprecedented way. There is little, if anything, that we have not done in order to convince the Government that changes were needed to Bill C-11.
We want to thank all of you who responded through letters to your MPs, signatures on the PWAC Toronto petition, tweeting and re-tweeting our messages and even studying the issues and going to Ottawa for PWAC. Special thanks to Bruce Wilson and Michelle Greysen from our board and Jaclyn Law, Jane Langille and Karen Luttrell for their extra effort.

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