As politicians and pundits speculate the federal government is about to call an election, the prognosis of the copyright legislation introduced last June appears poor.
If the Governor General dissolves Parliament, Bill C-61, the Act to Amend the Copyright Act, will die on the order paper, rather than go to committee for further study and second reading.
Although the New Democratic Party opposes the bill, crafted by Industry Minister Jim Prentice, the NDP’s digital rights critic says Canada’s Copyright Act still needs to be changed.
“We can’t just put off the issue of copyright,” said Charlie Angus, who represents the Ontario riding of Timmins-James Bay. “We actually need to get some legislation in place. I think Bill C-61 was the wrong legislation but certainly when Parliament gets back, we’ve got to get the job done.”
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And if this happens, a new government will probably introduce new legislation, said Michael Geist, a University of Ottawa professor who publishes a blog on electronic law
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that copyright will be back regardless of who forms the government,” Geist said. “I think it’s going to take some time. If an election is on (Oct.) 14, I don’t think we’re going to wake up on the 15th with a new government and new copyright law on the 15th. But given both the Liberals and the Conservatives have come out in the past with bills that have died on the order paper, I think there’s every reason to believe we’ll see new legislation and we’ll see it fairly early in the mandate of whoever is elected.”
The NDP’s industry critic, Peggy Nash, suggests the ruling Conservatives never intended to have Bill C-61 passed into law.
“I don’t think this government has been serious about the copyright issue or they wouldn’t have delayed and postponed the introduction of a bill, and then introduced one at the last minute knowing there would be an election even before it could be debated at committee,” said Nash, Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, located in the old city of Toronto west of downtown.
During the Throne speech last fall, the government promised copyright reform, under pressure from industry groups to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright treaty, which Canada signed in 1996.