Copyright reform: the only thing more depressing than another election

What do we even want out of it anymore?

Hug a political reporter today, they could use it.

With little joy or passion, newsrooms are gearing up to dutifully cover every aspect of an election that nobody really wants. For journalists, the coming weeks will bring nothing but grind, a decaying echo of something that once seemed important, exciting, even fun. Twitter is filled with their tears, the poor babies.

Do I seem glib? I am glib! Glib and glum. I have no pity for those who cover politics, because I’m too busy pitying myself. I cover copyright. And that means I’m stuck on “repeat” for years, not weeks.

When Parliament dissolves, so too will bill C-32, the third attempt at copyright reform in six years. It’s a flawed bill with one killer feature—it’s passable. Nobody would have been happy, but everybody could have gone home.

Instead, we will have to start all over again. Whichever party forms a government will inherit the curse of Canadian copyright. Government ministers will be doomed to endure the relentless lobbying efforts of legacy media on the one side and the incessant outrage of geeks like me on the other. They will have to pretend to respect us, pretend to care what any of us have to say, and pretend that a happy balance between these rival interests can indeed be reached. More than anything, they will have to pay lip service to the idea that new copyright legislation actually matters to Canadians—that it will get creators paid and criminals punished. It will not.

Stephen Harper knew what he wanted out of copyright reform: to get the U.S. off his back. But I’m losing sight of what anyone else has to gain.

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