Jeremy Patzer, a Conservative member of Canada's Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, introduced Bill C-294, the Unlocking Innovation Act, June 17.
By amending Canada’s copyright law, Bill C-294 seeks to provide a clear and limited exemption for consumers and future innovators to enjoy the benefits of interoperability.
“Canada has been the home of many remarkable advances,” says Patzer. “We should never discourage new ones from happening now or in the future. If we make a small adjustment in the law, Canadian creativity will do the rest.”
For the last 10 years since 2012, Canada’s Copyright Act has enforced technological protection measures (TPMs) to help businesses and creators benefit from their own work, including software. Some companies use this to put digital locks in place, limiting which information their competitors or users can access with their products. Patzer says combined with a lack of clarity in copyright law, this can block users from having their machinery or devices interoperate with other equipment – as they were once able to do.
Canadians who deal with copyright and intellectual property, including industry associations, are actively calling for an update to the act, according to Patzer.
“In today’s digital environment, physical product design is increasingly reliant on software, networking and computerization, and farmers must continue to have the freedom of choice to select the equipment that is right for their operations," says Donna Boyd, president of the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada. "Canada’s framework for interoperability is outdated and reflective of an era prior to widespread technological advancement, and it is time for meaningful modernization.”
Along with consumers, shortline manufacturers are left with both practical barriers and uncertainty under legal precedent if they want to sell their competitive products.
“Innovation-led exports have been a quiet success story on the Canadian prairies," says Carlo Dade, director of the Trade & Investment Centre, Canada West Foundation. "Small companies in small communities are creating good, middle-class jobs by filling a niche in exporting to new markets and helping feed the world’s population. This success and the jobs and communities tied to it have been threatened by uncertainty over interoperability. Canada’s competitors, including the U.S., Australia and the EU are providing certainty to their small innovators. Canada needs to do the same.”
“For decades, Canadian agriculture has grown because of the ability to connect farm equipment and implements together that are produced by more than one manufacturer. This industry-accepted practice has helped the farming community choose farm equipment that is suited to the commodities they grow and their local farm conditions. We welcome this bill, as it ensures that customers will continue to have choice in their farm equipment purchases," adds John Schmeiser, CEO of the Western Equipment Dealers Association.