Canadian copyright reform debate turns nasty

Politician James Moore lashes out at opponents of Bill C-32

TORONTO -- Canadian federal politician James Moore has lashed out at opponents of his made-in-U.S.A. copyright reform package as "radical extremists."

"They will find any excuse to oppose this bill, to drum up fear, to mislead, to misdirect and to push people in the wrong direction and to undermine what has been a year-long comprehensive effort to get something right," Moore, the federal heritage minister in charge of copyright reform, told a G20 Chamber of Commerce gathering in Toronto.

Moore, who is looking to get Bill C-32 and its amendments to the federal Copyright Act into law, has come under attack from artist and consumer advocates for proposing to bar Canadians from picking a digital lock on music, film or any entertainment product protected from duplication.

"There are those cited as experts by the media who are not in favor of copyright reform. They are in favor only in weakening legislation, and only gutting tools that would allow those who are investing in and creating jobs to continue to have those jobs," Moore insisted.

"When they speak up, we need to confront them," he added.

But Moore's call to arms met with an immediate barrage of complaints from opposition politicians and copyright reform critics.

Charlie Angus, a broadcast critic for the opposition NDP party, said Moore attacking artists and consumers posing legitimate questions about Bill C-32 was "ridiculous."

"Instead of understanding and appreciating the nuances of balanced copyright, the minister is appearing hyper-defensive and bombastic. I think he needs a time out," Angus said.

Michael Geist, an Internet and e-commerce law professor at the University of Ottawa, in a blog criticized Moore for looking to discredit and confront opponents of his proposed copyright reform package.

"To use his own words, it is an attempt to mislead, misdirect, and undermine what has been more than a year-long effort for Canadians to speak out on copyright," Geist said.

The Canadian mud fight over copyright reform comes as Ottawa looks to get back in Washington's good books after being placed by the U.S. Trade Representative on its "priority watch list" for piracy.

Moore's proposed copyright reforms include a first-time "notice-and-notice" regime where copyright holders can warn Internet service providers of suspected piracy, and the ISP will then be compelled to tell their customer they are breaking the law.

The long-awaited reforms to limit consumer protections will also narrow Canada's fair dealing provision, albeit with extensions for the recording of content for news reporting or parody, for example, if copyright infringement is not intended.

Bill C32 will now go to committee in Ottawa for likely amendments before the Canadian Parliament gets a chance to vote on the new legislation.