Technology & Science

ACTRA angry over delayed copyright reform

ACTRA, the union for Canada's English-language performers, is angry with the government for delaying its proposed copyright reform legislation.

The union for Canada's English-language performers is fuming over the government's decision to delay copyright reform legislation, demanding Minister of Industry Jim Prentice to "do the right thing" and ignore the protests of a "vocal minority.

"This government is turning its back on legislation that is long overdue. Politics must not trump policy," said Stephen Waddell, national executive director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, in a statement. "By not releasing the promised legislation, the government is causing further delays, and in the process shelving years of hard work."

Prentice was expected to introduce a copyright reform bill, which would have made such activities asthe time shifting of television shows, file-sharing of music and video, andcopyingfiles to CDs or MP3 players illegal. At an open house in his Calgary constituency on Saturday, Prentice argued that such legislation was necessary to bring Canada in line with its obligations to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which it signed on to in 1997.

But Prentice backtracked on the plan after more than 50 angry protestors showed up to question him at the meeting, and an online group formed on social networking site Facebook. The group was started by University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, a chief opponent of the legislation, on Dec. 1. More than 18,000 Facebook users have joined the group since then, andmore than 3,000have joined in the past day.

A protest is also scheduled to be held at Queen's Park in Toronto on Dec. 18.

ACTRA said it is now apparent that no bill will be introduced before the House of Commons goes into recess for the holidays at the end of this week.

ACTRA called the protestors a vocal minority and said that further inaction by the government to reformthe copyright laws willcause reduced investment and innovation, plusjob lossesinCanada's "already struggling industry."

Alarge number of Canadian musicians, however, do not support ACTRA's position and are concerned that industry bodies are not speaking in their interests.A number of high-profile acts, including the Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan and Avril Lavigne launched the Canadian Music Creators Coalition in May to speak on their behalf.

In October, the coalitionurged the government to come up with balanced legislation that wouldn't make it possible for record labels to sue fans.

"It's shortsighted to say 'See you in court' one day and 'See you at Massey Hall' the next," said Barenaked Ladies frontman and coalition spokesman Steven Page. "If the Canadian government wants to reform copyright, it should be creating a made-in-Canada solution that looks to where the music industry is going, not where it was."