A well-attended copyright policy lunchat the recent University of Ottawa Comparative IP & Cyberlaw Symposium saw academics and industry lawyers pepper federal government officials on implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties. At the October 2 event featuring Industry Canada ADM Michael Binder and officials from his department and Canadian Heritage, audience members politely listened to an outline of future copyright reforms before launching into heated questioning over technological protection measures, ISP liability and other treaty-related concerns. The luncheon, which saw a who’s-who of Canadian industry association and private copyright lawyers along with most of the country’s leading academic experts gathered in the same room, was a sleepy affair through canned presentations by Binder and Heritage officials. The two departments appeared together deliberately, according to speakers. Said Susan Bincoletto, director of Industry Canada’s intellectual property policy directorate, on the matter of copyright: "There is no Industry Canada perspective and there is no Canadian Heritage perspective. There is a common perspective. That’s why we’re here together." The two ministries have been criticized in the past by observers who discern a rift between the two departments. Bincoletto and Danielle Bouvet, director of Canadian Heritage’s copyright policy branch, outlined current initiatives under the section 92 review of the Copyright Act. As the floor opened to questions, audience members and the panel moderator immediately launched into a series of questions asking about such matters as ratification of the treaty on cybercrime. Binder told audience members that while Canada would sign the treaty "as soon as possible," Ottawa would first have to finish its current process on lawful access (CNM, Sept. 12/03). The panel moderator then asked the panel whether the government was leaning toward U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act-style legislation on the matter of technological protection measures (TPMs). Bouvet would say only that the departments are examining a report they commissioned that was released in two parts this year (CNM, June 13/03, April 3/03). "The kinds of problems created by the DMCA is certainly on our radar screen…at the end of the day, what we want to achieve is a balance," Bouvet told the luncheon participants. A question quickly came in the wake of that answer from the floor about the need for implementing the WIPO treaty – which calls for legal protection of TPMs – in the first place. A University of Western Ontario professor noted that of the countries that have ratified the WIPO agreements, most are small, and he questioned whether ratification of the treaties wouldn’t simply serve the purposes of the U.S. content industry. A calm and collected Bouvet answered simply by saying that ratification of the agreements by Canada won’t happen until Ottawa has had a chance to review all aspects of it in a Canadian context and through consultations as set out in the process announced in 2002. She told the audience that Canada is not currently in a position to ratify, and won’t be until consultations and a thorough analysis is complete. David Pfohl, new legal counsel for the Canadian Recording Industry Association, however, disagreed with the earlier questioner in dismissing the need to ratify the treaties. He said that ratification would bring certainty to the Internet environment for copyrighted content. "It’s not surprising that iTunes is available in the U.S. and not in Canada," he noted. He further noted that the U.S. legal environment, where the WIPO treaties have been ratified, has fostered greater business innovation. The next query for the panel came from Canadian Cable Television Association VP of legal affairs Jay Kerr-Wilson, who put it to Binder that in consultations so far, "in each of those issues, we tend to look at the ISP industry" as a potential solution to such problems as piracy and spam. Binder, however, was quick off the mark to say that "I don’t recall saying ISPs are the solution. We don’t have the solutions. That’s the problem." Another controversy-raising question was raised by lawyer and public interest activist Howard Knopf, who outlined oft-repeated arguments against Canada’s private copying regime, which applies a levy to the sale of blank media on which music can be recorded. Knopf again asked about the government’s willingness to ratify the WIPO treaties, demanding to know, "have you backtracked on the commitment to ratify?" In responding, Bouvet repeated the government’s commitment to study before ratification, to which Knopf responded that Ottawa seems more interested in how to implement the treaties rather than examining the basis for doing so. On another question dealing with the issue of ISP liability and Canada’s notice-and-notice regime, symposium organizer and University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist brought up a recent report in Canadian NEW MEDIA that indicated the government may be moving ahead on an accelerated timeline with legislative amendments to codify the practice or change it (CNM, Sept. 26/03). Bincoletto briefly noted that the report wasn’t based on government sources and that Ottawa was not moving ahead with ISP liability in advance of other issues.