The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. The theft of intellectual property on the Internet is a massive threat to the intellectual and cultural development of our country, and must be dealt with. Whether it’s the theft of secrets by nefarious digital means, or the downloading of entertainment products, the supports upon which our system of innovation rely are in danger even as the Internet opens up new collaborative ways of sharing information.   Our own internal analysis of music downloading, for instance, leads us to believe that peer-to-peer file sharing of music takes just under $100 million out of the system in Canada every year - about what the music industry claims. That number will climb higher as advances in compression and broadband speeds allow DVD movies and other big files to be traded by more than just the most patient of us. As one solution to the problem, the government has put it on the table that ISPs might be made to pay a fee that would compensate rights holders for their losses. Industry associations are vociferously opposing the measure before Parliament, but the idea won’t die. Songwriters and publishers still hope for the best from their Supreme Court effort to impose Tariff 22 on ISPs, even as it appears their case was a losing one, and it’s possible that a ruling in favour of access providers at the court will take blanket licensing off the table. But, the concept has strong support in the music and content industries, and those enterprises enjoy excellent support within Canadian Heritage - one of two departments responsible for the Copyright Act. In this debate, Industry Canada - the other responsible department - has been silent. We know that the department views anything that threatens the ISP industry as a threat to innovation. Businesses and consumers in Canada rely on inexpensive Internet access to learn, to share ideas, to shop, to bank and upon the revolutions in manufacturing and knowledge-creation that access have been created. We agree that the theft of intellectual property must be stopped - but ISPs are not the Maginot Line. Making Internet access more expensive will damage our position in the world as digital leaders, and it’s time for Industry minister Lucienne Robillard to make a public defence against the blanket fee proposal.