Richard Owens is counsel in a Toronto law firm specializing in business and commercial law, intellectual property and technology.
This short comment analyses the results of the Government of Canada’s recent on-line public consultation on its planned reform of copyright laws, held from July 20th, 2009 to September 15th, 2009. Defects in the Consultation process are striking. While the results of our study revealed a sharp gender, age and Anglophone bias in the submissions, of particular concern is the apparent lack of verification of identity, uniqueness, age (voting or otherwise) or citizenship of those making the submissions.
For instance, 70% of the total submissions were “form letters” originating from a single little-known group of modchip sellers and distributors – the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights (CCER) – that had its form letter extensively circulated internationally on BitTorrent-related sites. As a result, it appears that many of the submissions were not even made by Canadians. Our study raises serious issues regarding the design and results of the public consultations, and of the need to ensure that future online consultations are better designed to properly represent the views and interests of the Canadian body politic. The government of Canada is urged to make available its own analysis of the submissions, as well as the nature and results of its verification process, if any.
Read the full comment here.