Canada delays copyright amendment


TORONTO -- The Canadian government on Tuesday bowed to grass-roots opposition from consumer advocates and delayed the introduction of long-awaited amendments to the federal Copyright Act that deal with copyright infringement.

Industry minister Jim Prentice rose in the House of Commons to say the amendments, expected to safeguard music, TV and film rights holders by introducing digital rights management technology, will not be unveiled, as planned.

"A bill will not be tabled in the House until such time as myself and the minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages are satisfied," Prentice told an opposition member of Parliament when asked about copyright law changes.

Opposition politicians and advocates for Internet users said the proposed legislation from the governing Conservatives put too much focus on an end to the use of content without compensation for rights holders, and not enough focus on allowing "fair use" or "fair dealing" of digital content by ordinary Canadians.

"The thousands of letters and phone calls over the past week have urged the government to adopt balanced copyright reforms that meets everyone's needs and does not unduly harm education, consumer rights, privacy and free speech," Michael Geist, a professor of internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, said on his popular blog.

"The delay provides an exceptional opportunity for minister Prentice to consult more broadly and to factor those concerns into the forthcoming bill in the interests of all Canadians," he added.

Washington and U.S. media interests have long urged Canada to scrap lax legal and border protections against intellectual piracy, and to comply with the WIPO copyright and Internet treaties, to which Canada is a signatory.

But Geist and other opponents of major labels and studios campaigning for copyright infringement safeguards argue DRM technology and other anti-circumvention measures are not required to bring Canada in line with the WIPO treaties.

Geist on Dec. 1 launched a Facebook page to rally concern and protests over the direction of Canadian copyright law.