Canadian copyright law to trump ACTA, Clement says

Industry Minister Tony Clement says an international anti-counterfeiting agreement will not criminalize everyday activity by Canadians and will be "subservient" to copyright rules created domestically.

Industry Minister Tony Clement, responding to accusations that an international anti-counterfeiting agreement will criminalize everyday activity by Canadians, says any such pact will be "subservient" to copyright rules created domestically.

Clement said suggestions that Canada will lose its copyright sovereignty to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a deal being negotiated largely in private by the European Union and a number of countries — including the United States, Canada and Australia — is "fear-mongering."

"The ACTA negotiations are in fact subservient to any legislation put forward in this House," Clement said Tuesday in response to NDP MP Charlie Angus during question period in the House of Commons.

Recent leaks from the negotiations indicate that parties are discussing a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy, which would result in individuals losing their internet access for a period of time after being accused three times of illegally sharing copyrighted content such as music or movies.

Other provisions could make it illegal to break the electronic locks, also known as digital rights management, put on content and devices.

Angus said the leaked details have exposed the Canadian government's recent copyright consultations with the public "as a total sham."

"ACTA will deep-six Canada's right to establish copyright policy," he said. "Furthermore, it'll strip thousands of Canadians of the right to use the internet under the idiotic three-strikes-you're-out policy."

Angus challenged Clement to table the ACTA negotiations in the Commons so they could be publicly scrutinized, but the industry minister did not reply.

A year ago, Canadians revolted against proposed copyright reform legislation tabled by Clement's predecessor, Jim Prentice, which contained some of the same provisions reportedly in ACTA. Tens of thousands of Canadians protested the proposal online and ultimately succeeded in getting it scrapped.

Clement and Heritage Minister James Moore held country-wide consultations earlier this year to gather input from Canadians, much of which were "good ideas," Clement said Tuesday.

"We have gone further in terms of making sure that the public is aware of the issues involved in copyright renewal and reform than any other government, and we are proud of that record," he said.