Bill C-48, which would clarify the legal issues surrounding Internet retransmission, passed second reading in the House of Commons Feb. 22 and will move to debate by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. Debate on the bill was limited, but MPs from across the government side of the House raised serious concerns about a dearth of regulations that would govern the right to retransmit online. Following a short nationalist speech by Canadian Heritage minister Sheila Copps in which she defended the bill as a necessary measure to protect the $4.4 billion Canadian film and television industry, MPs Chuck Cadman (CA), Christine Gagnon (BQ), Wendy Lill (NDP), and Grant McNally (PC) gave general support to C-48 while attacking the absence of details on how retransmission will be handled.
Said Chuck Cadman: "In order for the official opposition to vote in favour of Bill C-48 when it leaves committee, we will require one of two things: an amendment that adds to the specific definition of retransmitter, one that will act in a way to protect the property and the intellectual property rights of the creators and the broadcast industry, or at a minimum, the tabling of detailed regulatory information by the Heritage and Industry departments."
Regulations have been promised shortly by officials at Canadian Heritage, but industry observers note that the potential exists for long delays – even to the House rising for summer – as the responsible departments become ensnared in a feud over how strictly the government will treat companies such as iCraveTV. More details.
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