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CNM Short Takes

News | 03/07/2002 5:00 am EST

Heritage, Industry summarize pre-hearing submissions
Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada have released a 20-page summary of the 670 submissions and 60 reply comments on their digital copyright issues paper released last summer. The document is a broad look at the massive number of submissions, and seeks to clarify how the variety of comments made by individual Canadians and organizations responded to the four questions posed by the paper (CNM, June 28/01). In summarizing the documents, the departments note that around 80 submissions came from organizations, coalitions, collectives and corporations. The rest originated from individuals. Of those, approximately 186 submissions were by individuals identifying themselves as in the computing field, and 234 were either copied from or modeled on a template letter circulated by the American-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the dying days of the submission period (CNM, Sept. 20/01).
The comments foretell a fractious debate ahead, even as the departments have reiterated their intention not to deal with issues outside of the consultation papers, prefering to wait, instead, for an even broader review of copyright law under section 92 of the Copyright Act, mandated to be tabled by this September (CNM, Dec. 13/01).
In no area of the four under discussion was any consensus reached. For example, with respect to a new right of making available, 33 submissions were in favour while 14 were against (CNM, Nov. 2/01). With respect to technological protection measures, 237 opposed them to some degree, while 35 argued in favour, not including those submissions based on the EFF letter. Some 39 submissions argued in favour of rights management information protection, 21 argued against it. Finally, 58 submissions argued in favour of limiting ISP liability in some way, while 22 submissions argued in favour of some kind of liability for copyright infringement.
Of course, the submissions are just a starting point, and any new laws won’t be determined by vote. The numbers clearly don’t give readers an indication of the varying influence of lobby groups on these issues, and the appendix lists Canada’s largest, richest, and most determined associations and companies as interested parties.

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