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Industry debates copyright

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Association News
Government (other than CRTC)
Intellectual property and copyright
OTTAWA - Last week leaders in the broadcast, delivery and distribution of copyrighted content sat down in Ottawa with the right bureaucrats to discuss the future of copyright reform in Canada.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA), the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA), and the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) hosted the symposium at Ottawa's Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel on June 3rd, 2004.

Some 80 key federal decision-makers from Industry Canada, Canadian Heritage, International Trade, CRTC and the Copyright Board joined industry representatives from the broadcasting, telecommunications, broadcast and motion picture distribution, production and information technology sectors to participate in this half-day symposium, says a press release from the four trade organizations.

"The impetus for the Symposium was to broaden and deepen the debate on copyright reform issues and to increase our mutual understanding of the critically important questions raised today," said Glenn O'Farrell, president and CEO of the CAB, during the opening luncheon.

A keynote address by Fritz Attaway, executive vice-president for government relations and Washington general counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), opened the debate.

The first panel "Technology and Copyright � Striking a Balance" picked up on two key issues at the forefront of the copyright reform agenda - how best to craft legislation dealing with technological protection measures and digital rights management systems. These measures are being considered by the Government of Canada as part of the next copyright reform package to provide protection to digital content - TV programs/music/films/print - in the online environment, reads the release.

"The massive investments required to create and distribute popular creative content cannot be sustained if these products can be obtained illegally for free," said Susan Peacock, vice-president, CMPDA.

The second panel "Industry Needs � Establishing the Framework" focused on the scope and the practicality of new rights in the online and digital world. The release said that panel participants debated a variety of issues including rights in broadcast signals, ownership of audiovisual works, such as movies and videos, Internet service provider liability and notice and take down, and the need for ephemeral and transfer of format exemptions for radio broadcasters.

"Technological change is inevitable and copyright law should not, indeed cannot, obstruct it. But we must recognize it as a positive force and deal with it creatively and progressively," said Bernard Courtois, president and CEO, ITAC. "Now is the time to harness the force brought about by technological change to the benefit of Canadian consumers, copyright owners and users."

Panelists recognized that there has been a massive shift in power towards the consumer in the digital environment, and the need for the industry, the copyright users, to take into account consumers' needs and expectations when developing their business models, continues the release.

Improving the process for copyright reform was also raised. CCTA acting president Michael Hennessy expressed concern with the process for WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) implementation being under control of the Heritage Committee. "There is too much focus on the cultural side that could result in a regime that cripples the growth of the Internet and undermines privacy rights," said Hennessy in the statement. "It makes no sense to us that Parliament seems to be more interested in protecting foreign rights online than protecting Canadian broadcaster rights from satellite theft."

The symposium was held in advance of Parliament's anticipated review of copyright legislation.
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