One of the points that Michael Geist has made time and time again is that it seems like all of the attempts at copyright reform in Canada (and, I would argue, in many other countries) has had little to do with setting up the best system for either creators or the public, but about satisfying demands from the US (which are funneled from the entertainment industry through diplomats, through processes like the USTR's infamous Special 301 report). Geist now points us to a new paper, where the chief of staff of the Industry Minister back when the last copyright bill was introduced admits that it was entirely about satisfying the US
. There's no subtly here at all:
Of particular significance are comments Haggart obtained from Michele Austin, who served as Maxime Bernier's chief of staff when he was Industry Minister.
According to Austin, the decision to introduce U.S.-style DMCA rules in Canada in 2007 was strictly a political decision, the result of pressure from the Prime Minister's Office desire to meet U.S. demands. She states "the Prime Minister's Office's position was, move quickly, satisfy the United States." When Bernier and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda protested, the PMO replied "we don't care what you do, as long as the U.S. is satisfied."
This is tremendously problematic for a variety of reasons. While the pro-stronger-copyright's more entertainingly ridiculous spokespeople are trying to spin a new story about how modern copyright only works
if it's all based on the US's system, that's empirically absurd. The problem, as has been shown over and over and over again, is the simple fact that there remains no
empirical evidence that stronger copyright benefits either creators or society as a whole. In fact, a lot of the evidence these days suggests exactly the opposite. Because of that, locking the entire world into a single system, based on nothing but claims from a particular industry, seems unwise. In fact, you would think that the exact opposite position would make sense. We would be much better off with a system where countries tested varying types of copyright law, so that we could actually see the impact and start to make actual decisions based on the data, not claims from those who abuse the system for profit. Tragically, rather than do that, it looks like Canada has decided to just go with the most political expedient system, even if that comes at the expense of content creators and the public at large.