On July 22, 2010, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages announced a review of the Government of Canada's Foreign Investment Policy for the book industry and in that regard issued a discussion paper, Investing in the Future of Canadian Books. The discussion paper includes a questionnaire that solicits views of stakeholders. The current policy (known as the Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution) working in tandem with the Investment Canada Act sets conditions for foreign investment in the Canadian book industry.
The policy review is motivated by, among other things, the commitment of the Government of Canada to conduct the review, the merits of reviewing policies and programs that have been in place for many years (in the case of the Revised Policy, since 1992), the maturation of the Canadian book industry and significant changes in the book sector including those driven by technology.
The review will seek to determine whether the policy is to continue or to be revised with a view to providing healthy competition in the book publishing, distribution and retail sectors of the industry and to contribute to the broader government objective of insuring that Canadian cultural content is created and accessible in Canada and abroad.
As a first step in the review process, public stakeholders are invited to put forward their views on the subject. A website has been launched that offers relevant background information that provides a forum for public comment.
Given recent developments in the book industry including the growing presence of the internet, the growing significance of electronic books and readers and the recent order respecting Amazon, the timing for the review is excellent. Indeed, in our view whether or not the ultimate treatment is more liberal than it has been, increased transparency and up-to-date policy guidance would be most helpful. We would encourage anyone active in the book industry to contact us if they require assistance in relation to this development.