Ignoring copyright

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One of the most disappointing aspects of the recent federal election was the lack of attention paid by media to copyright issues, such as the Conservatives' digital media copyright act, Bill C-61. Despite the anger directed at the bill and its provisions over the summer, nothing happened during the election. The media silence has been very troubling.

During the federal election, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, who runs a blog related to digital issues like internet neutrality and copyright issues, was one of the few who raised the alarm over the Conservative promise to re-introduce Bill C-61. He cited several copyright-related issues that hadn't received coverage in the national media, such as Canadian Privacy Commissioner Colin McKay's letter about Bill C-61's anti-circumvention provisions, which allow companies to use digital rights management software on media sold to Canadian consumers. In the past, these tools have been used to collect consumers personal information. Globe and Mail and CBC gave only small mention, while not reporting its possible implications. There has been silence from the CanWest chain of newspapers, including the Calgary Herald and the National Post, and CTV.

RCMP colonel David Sutherland generated little media response when he attacked Canadian copyright laws and policy at a conference in San Francisco. He said Canadians "feel it's OK to dabble in piracy" and referred to downloading music as "piracy," even when the Canadian copyright act allows downloading of music onto an audio recording medium and even hard disks. His comments were unusual, considering the gag order on government business during the federal election, which disallowed public servants from making comments that would impact the federal election. His comments garnered only slight mention on Geist's blog, the Globe and Mail's blogs and the Consumer Electronics Daily News bulletin, an American industry blog.

Considering its possible impact on Canadian culture and economy, Bill C-61 is too important to be ignored by the media.