Why I will not be commenting on Canada’s new Copyright bill

Jon Stewart, impersonating Darth Vader before ...

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When I finished law school I got an articling position at a firm that represents some major media companies, significant copyright owners in Canada. I had been at the University of Ottawa and worked with Michael Geist and CIPPIC, so my past association with the copyleft??movement was easy for these copyright lawyers to guess. I remember when I met the senior partner on copyright, he said to me, "So you're one of those copyfighters? We'll turn you over to the Dark Side yet!"

Interestingly, just like Darth Vader, those on the Dark Side of the copyfight know they're on the Dark Side.

But I digress. Point being, if you know me at all, you know where I stand on copyright questions. I've spoken publicly and represented Creative Commons Canada which, although it is not in fact anti-copyright at all, is labelled as such by the copyright industry.

I had a lot of latitude to speak out as a student, and then working at a university, and finally working independently. But now I'm working at Industry Canada and, while I am not involved in the copyright file here, I do work on internet policy (slightly??related). Now, there are rules about conflicts of interest in the public service. Since I don't work on the file, I don't think it would technically be a conflict of interest for me to comment publicly on the copyright file. At the same time, I am already pushing some boundaries using Twitter in my work and I know that the powers-that-be are keeping track of what I write (hi there!). As a result, I've had to make a decision about my boundaries for commenting on copyright.

It's Tuesday afternoon and the word is that a new Copyright bill is expected on Thursday. It's going to be tough for me to shut it out, but I'm going to bite my tongue and stay out of it this time and instead focus on my work on the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act (FISA) and the Digital Economy Consultation.

Thanks for understanding!

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