For many, blogging is a safety valve. We post when we’re angry in order to let off steam, which means that political blogs tend to post only when things happen or are said that the poster strongly disagrees with. I’m overgeneralizing, but not by much. When the government does the right thing, or hums along doing the business it is supposed to be doing, we tend to stay silent. Which gives the erroneous impression that we only care when the government screws up. I think we should try to correct that.
So I’d like to thank Industry Minister Jim Prentice for listening to Canadians and pausing in his introduction of changes to the Canadian Copyright Act. Many bloggers are already hailing this as a victory, and we all deserve a pat on the back for showing what individuals can still do, but the job isn’t done. Hopefully, Prentice will take this opportunity to consult with Canadians before reintroducing the new Copyright Bill, to ensure that our concerns about the maintenance of consumers rights, the right to parody, and fair use are all addressed. Yes, the Canadian Copyright Act needs updating to bring it in line with treaties we have signed, but as has been noted, we can fulfill our treaty obligations without going so far as to introduce a Canadian version of the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
In his comments to my earlier post, Bob Tarantino suggested that it was premature to criticize the government for this bill. While there is something to that statement, I did find Prentice’s initial refusal to answer questions about the legislation, and his statement that consumer concerns would be addressed by a committee only after the legislation was implemented, raised some big red flags in my head. I would have thought that the best time to get input about regulatory changes would have been before a bill was implemented. Certainly Prentice’s circumspect attitude before this weekend is as much to blame as anything for our reaction to it, but now (fingers crossed) he’s listening.
But I also agree with Catelli over at Not Quite Unhinged. Bending the ear of government is one thing, but if we don’t want corporations to walk all over consumers’ rights on their own initiative, then we need to be more proactive in slapping down corporations that try to limit our use of the things we’ve bought with our own money. Studies out there already indicate that music sold without digital rights management restrictions sell substantially better than music designed to be played on only one device. We need to shove that in their faces.
In a far less public move, this government has been quietly humming along with the introduction of legislation to fix glitches in Canada’s citizenship laws. Old regulations were making lives difficult for an estimated 200,000 individuals who had had their citizenship effectively stripped (or put at risk of being stripped) due to such things as their fathers acquiring American citizenship, or being born outside of Canada and having their parents forget to file some convoluted paperwork.
The changes are being hailed by thousands of individuals, all of whom have spent their entire lives in Canada, and some of whom have been fighting up to thirty-five years to get the law changed. So, kudos to the Tories for bringing this bill to pass. My only question is, why wasn’t it done sooner?