Copyright reform: The 1,000-pound gorilla at the Telecom Summit

by Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

There's a 1,000-pound (or for the metric-minded, a 453-kilogram) gorilla in the room at this year's Canadian Telecom Summit that nobody is talking about: copyright reform. Nadir Mohamed, chief operating officer of Canada's largest wireless provider, waxed on in his keynote about how data usage on cellphones is due to explode. Speakers from network manufacturers Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent talked about the growth of video over both wired and wireless networks. Two panels – "Consumers in a Multi-Screen World" and "Entertainment & Content Over Broadband" – discussed how media is spreading to every device.

But just about no one – with the exception of the CBC's executive director of digital programming and business development Steve Billinger (I mention this despite the risk of being accused of naval-gazing) – mentioned how the government's proposed copyright reform is going to play in. Even then, Billinger touched only briefly on the issue.

There is a real fear among Canadians that this predicted spread of digital content to every device will come to an abrupt halt with the digital lock provision in the proposed legislation. Indeed, it's an issue many of Canadians want answers to – the copyright protest group on Facebook has seen more than 20,000 new members join since the reform bill was introduced on Thursday, bringing total membership to 61,000.

Yet, no one at the summit is talking about it.

The issue of copyright reform may be raised during Tuesday's "regulatory blockbuster" panel session. Perhaps then the gorilla will come out of its cage.