Writers see danger in copyright bill


Former Toronto Star columnist David Lewis Stein made an impassioned plea against the federal government’s new copyright act in Sunday’s edition of the paper.

As now written, he says, the new copyright act would severely harm Canadian writers, musicians and performers, while at the same time diminishing the cultural sense of ourselves that we have spent so many years building.

Stein outlines some of the potentially harmful aspects of Bill C-11, which is now undergoing clause-by-clause review from a legislative committee. He points to the digital revolution as the driving force behind those proposed changes to the act.

“Artists have good reason to love this revolution. It offers us so many new ways to get our work out to people,” he says. “The difficulty comes in getting paid for what we do. The ‘fair dealing’ section of this new copyright act will actually reduce the rights to their own work that writers now have. They ought to call it ‘unfair dealing’.”

Stein says Greg Hollingshead, chair of the Writers Union of Canada, went to Ottawa last week to warn the committee that this bill “is likely to launch an unintended assault on the intellectual property of Canadian writers.” He was part of a coalition of 68 concerned arts organizations.

Stein hopes committee members were listening to that warning, because if the bill passes as it is now written, “it could be exceedingly harmful to people who have given so much of their time and passion to furthering the arts in this country.”

The legislative committee studying C-11 is chaired by Glenn Thibeault (NDP – Sudbury). Members are Charlie Angus, Scott Armstrong, Tyrone Benskin, Peter Braid, Paul Calandra, Dean Del Mastro, Pierre Dionne Labelle, Chungsen Leung, Phil McColeman, Rob Moore, Pierre Nantel and Geoff Regan.

Comments can be directed to committee clerk Christine Holke David at CC11@parl.gc.ca or 613-947-6729.