Bill C-11 to Face Third Reading in the House Soon

Bill C-11, An Act to Amend Canada’s Copyright Act (la Loi modifiant la Loi sur le droit d’auteur) had its first reading in the House of Commons on September 29, 2011 and faces a third reading in the house very soon.

That means legislators will again have a chance to debate the merits of a bill that falls far short of what it needs to do. We have one more chance to make our points to our legislators.

Luckily, the latest bill gives photographers the same rights as other creators. That’s heading in the right direction. Now we have to give visual artists the same rights too.

In other ways, however, the concerns of creators like me remain largely ignored. Instead, this new bill amends the copyright act in a way that pleases businesses, educators, libraries, students and consumers in the futile aim to create a balance between all these interests.

That occurred in part because writers have been busy trying to adjust to enormous turmoil in the industry and fighting with those who use and commercialize our work and/or learning to commercialize it ourselves throughout the period since Canada signed the WIPO Treaty in 2005. Salaried commentators, including lawyers, professors, librarians and administrators got a virtual monopoly on the conversation.

Part of the turmoil occurred because writers launched four different class-action lawsuits against publishers beginning in 1999. They are: L’AJIQ contre Le Devoir; Robertson versus Thomson et al; Robertson versus Thomson et al II; and The Electronics Rights Defense Committee (ERDC) contre Southam Inc et al. The last of those lawsuits has just been settled.

Writers’ arguments against publishers became part of the conversation around copyright and that encouraged legislators to view themselves as moderators. This gave an opening for others trying to cut costs to make stronger cases.

The need to balance creation with use and commercialization shouldn’t be the goal of copyright.

Like patents, good copyright laws should provide incentive to create inventory. Creators need long gestation periods, flexible contract terms and the ability to share in the results of their labour, which often aren’t realized until decades after our works are produced.

We need to focus on those messages.

Failing that, we need to begin creating a new kind of conversation for the next round of amendments.

 

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Composting Centres: LaSalle and Montreal East Now, St. Michel and West Island Later

Montreal plans to build a pre-treatment centre on the Demix quarry in East Montreal and a compost centre in LaSalle right away, and will search for an appropriate site on the west island so that it can be opened along with a site at the St. Michel Environment Complex, just as a recent consultation into the subject recommended.

Commissioners André Beauchamp, Jean Burton Michel Hamelin and Nicole Brodeur were appointed by Montreal’s Public Consultation Office to examine the cities’ organic waste treatment. They released their final report on Wednesday, April 4.

“For the east end, the commission recommends that the pilot pre-treatment centre be established on the site of the Demix quarry, as planned, and that every effort be made to involve a university chair. As to the biomethanation centres, the commission recommends that the agglomeration proceed immediately with the acquisition and decontamination of the Solutia site, and with the establishment of a centre in the borough of LaSalle, in the first phase of the treatment project, unless the short-term combination of a biomethanation centre and the pilot pre-treatment centre on the Demix site is considered a significant economic lever for the east end of the island of Montréal.”

The report forms part of a legal process that is necessary because the city’s agglomeration council’s proposed to set up four closed waste treatment buildings on the island last June. The largest building, a biomethanation and pre-treatment test centre, would be built in the Demix Quarry site in Montreal East. A second biomethanation plant was supposed to be opened on Solutia Canada Inc. land in LaSalle, to be used once the initial plant reached its capacity. Two composting centres were supposed to be built: one on ADM property in Dorval and another on the St. Michel Environmental Complex.

For that plan to occur, the urban plans of the two boroughs and two cities would have to be modified.

That’s what led to information sessions in St. Michel, Montreal-East, Dorval and LaSalle in early November. Then a second series of hearings began so that commissioners could listen to citizen concerns and comments in each location on November 30 and through December. Citizens complained about traffic, odors, centralization, a lack of citizen involvement and education, and the need for a strategy to minimize the production of waste on the island.

After the process began, the ADM refused to agree to sell their property and no other property had been identified on the west island.

Given those circumstances, the commissioners recommended that the LaSalle and Eastern Montreal sites be developed immediately and a west island and the St. Michel sites come on board at the same time. Their idea is to ensure a level of territorial equality in waste treatment infrastructure.

For a copy of the full report, visit the organizations website at www.ocpm.qc.ca.

(A version of this story appeared in The Suburban on April 11, 2012.)

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