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News | 11/07/2003 5:00 am EST

Copps supporting quick changes to copyright law
Canadian Heritage minister Sheila Copps made a surprise appearance at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heriage November 6 to support an accelerated timetable for changes to the Copyright Act. Changes are needed if Canada is to ratify WIPO treaties on digital copyright issues that would strengthen the ability of creators and their intermediaries to protect their material distributed digitally. Copps’ appearance came on the deadline imposed by the committee for ministers Copps and Industry Canada’s Allan Rock to direct their respective departments to begin drafting legislation that could be ready by February. Copps reportedly told the committee that "WIPO ratification will be the happiest day of our life" during a raucous session. She noted, however, that joint responsibility for copyright between the two departments leaves her hands tied on unilaterally changing the law. On the same day, Rock sent his own response by letter to the committee on whether he supports an accelerated timetable as well. At press time, the contents of that letter are unknown, though it is well known that Industry and Heritage have disagreed in the past on copyright issues. Attendees to the November 6 meeting also report that committee chair Clifford Lincoln was receptive to suggestions by the Canadian Recording Industry Association, appearing before the committee at the time, and others that they might soon begin making suggestions for draft legislation that could serve as a foundation for legislative reforms.

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