Posts Tagged ‘USTR’
The overwhelming response from the vast majority of Copyright Consultation respondents indicated Canadians were opposed to TPM/DRM (Technical Protection Measures/Digital Rights Management) or “digitial locks”. Digital locks prevent users from using the media and devices the way they want to.
In spite of that, when Bill C-32 was tabled, TPM or “digital locks” was the most over-riding element, and made circumventing digital locks illegal. Even of we are legally entitled to access the content, under C-32 we would be breaking the law to bypass the digital lock.
This is the part that most upset me, as a writer, because this could remove my right as an author to distribute my creative work as I see fit. TPM/DRM places control of digital distribution in the hands of corporations. This law would have allowed manufacturers to use TPM to prevent consumers from accessing free material we are legally entitled to access on our laptops, dvds, cell phones and ipads etc.
If Bill C-32 had passed as is, Canada would most certainly have seen digital locks added to all digital devices, allowing corporate control of our culture.
WikiLeaks Cables Released
At last, WikiLeaks has released a batch of cablegate cables revealing the truth behind the conditions of so-called Canadian “copyright reform” saga.
A cable originating in the office of the U.S. Secretary of State is a blueprint for the copyright legislation the Canadian Government was expected to pass:
Prohibition of manufacturing and trafficking in technological
protection measure (TPM) circumvention devices as an offense
separate from copyright infringement;
Prohibition of circumvention of TPMs that control access to
works (quote access controls unquote);
Deterrent penalties against unauthorized circumvention –
both civil and criminal;
If there are any exceptions to TPM or rights management
information (RMI) liability, the exceptions should be clearly
enumerated and narrow in scope;
A system of protections and obligations for ISPs that
shelters them from certain liability, reduces and prevents
copyright infringement on the Internet and provides
incentives for ISPs to work cooperatively with copyright
Well, would you look at that. The most contentious issues — the issues objected to by Canadians — all come from the United States. And all the while, our government insisted that Bill C-32 was a “made-in-Canada” solution.
So, what would be Canada’s reward for making copyright law beneficial to the US at the expense of the Canadian public interest?
– (If needed) As Ambassador Kirk indicated in April, USTR is
prepared to reopen the USG interagency process to reassess
Canada,s placement on the Special 301 list if Canada enacts
selling out Canada
The “prize” Canada might receive for suborning Canadian Sovereignty in favor of American demands is that if we enact “adequate” legislation – legislation that suits American needs over our own – the “USTR is prepared to reopen the USG interagency process to reassess Canada,s placement on the Special 301 list.”
Or, in other words, all Canada has to do is make the laws the United States tells us to make, and then the USTR might stop lying about Canada, by placing Canada on the spurious USTR Watch List.
(And where was the “watchdog press”?)
Other cables recently released by WikiLeaks have clearly shown that Canada was only placed on the USTR Watch List in order to bully us into passing copyright law favorable to US special interests.
Ironically, Canada’s specious inclusion on the USTR Watch List has been a huge contributing factor in exposing the USTR Watch List for the fraud it is. Since the American record of copyright infringement is worse than ours, the United States should be listed there before Canada. The WatchList has been used against other countries around the world in just this way.
Clearly, Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA.
As we approach the 41st Canadian Election, Canadians should reflect on the fact that
both Conservative and LiberalGovernments have proven
their willingness to make copyright law harmful to Canadian interests
to appease our American neighbors.
Oh! Canada, indeed.
Please vote on Monday in the Federal Election.
Don’t vote strategically if there is a candidate you believe in. If we don’t start voting for what we want, we will never get it.
The only Canadian political parties opposed to electoral reform are the Conservative and Liberal parties. Canada has other choices. Visit the Elections Canada site to see what choices are available in your riding.
I am happy that the writ was dropped before Bill C-32 was passed.
Is that a bad thing?
Of course it mans we have another federal election.
Copyright Reform Apathy
Not so long ago, Jesse Brown did a Search Engine podcast called So Bored of Copyright. He wasn’t alone in thinking that Bill C-32 was likely to be pushed through no matter how atrocious simply because everyone is tired of arguing about copyright. The thinking, shared by many other Canadian activists was that our elected representatives just want it to be over. I understand how difficult it is to fight the same fight over and over again. But still, there was a disturbing willingness to settle for bad law just because everyone is tired of it.
Copyright law will impact on every Canadian. Our existing copyright law may not be perfect, but it isn’t as though we are a lawless nation of pirates, no mater what the USTR says to get a trade advantage. So I’m happy Bill C-32 is off the table, even if it does mean we’re having another Federal election. And I’m sure it will be back, but the longer it takes, there is less chance that we’ll end up with a copyright law benefitting special interest groups to the detriment of Canadian Culture.
Some people are tired of elections.
We’re having them too frequently, apparently.
Yet there are places in the world where there are no elections. Or where the election results are preordained.
Other people are unhappy because elections are expensive.
If we have a minority government, it stands to reason that we will have more elections. It is much harder to run a minority government because the government can’t operate in a vacuum. They have to build a consensus. And sometimes even listen to what the citizens want. And if they want to do something that the people think ill advised, we have some possibility of preventing it.
Then some people think majority government is a good thing. Talk about an expensive proposition.
Say what you want, our run of minority governments has meant very little in the way of patronage spending. While majority governments are always awash in patronage. That’s got to be worse.
Even with a minority our federal government managed to find a billion dollars for the G20.
Can you imagine? How many fighter jets would we have bought if there was a majority government? Wait a minute… fighter jets? Excuse me? If we want fighter jets, why don’t we build our own, shall we? You know, like the AVRO Arrow?
Citizens can’t afford NOT to have elections. We need as many as it takes.
I’ve heard some people are saying they will vote for the Conservative Party of Canada just to give them a majority, just to be done with this election business.
You know what?
If you want to vote for a political party you don’t support, that is your democratic right.
You can use your vote to improve this great nation of ours, or you can waste your vote. You get to decide.
You can vote for the candidate you believe will do the best job for you, or you can vote the way someone else tells you to vote. It is entirely up to you.
You can vote strategically and vote for someone you don’t want to elect. It seems to me that strategic voting is always about voting for someone else;s candidate, never your own. That seems to me just as big a waste. But still, it is your right to choose.
You can spoil your ballot, which won’t count. Or not cast a vote at all.
A great many of us are frustrated because we’ve been ignored for so long. Many of us have given up because the people we vote for are never elected. In the Conservative stronghold where I live, Liberal candidate Andrew Telegdi lost his seat in the last Federal election by 17 votes. And one of the most powerful members of the incumbent government “tweeted”:
The thing to remember is that when we abstain from voting, our voice, however small, is completely unheard. Abstaining from voting doesn’t “teach them a lesson,” it gives them our power. It makes it easier for fewer people to determine our government. All voter apathy does is to make electoral inequity worse.
You have the right not vote. But every vote not cast means that fewer votes hold greater sway. I am well aware Canadian votes count for more or less depending on geographical location. That’s bad enough. If you, like me, live in a place where your vote only counts for a fraction, blowing it off makes it worse. What government does affects all of us.
Debate and Democracy
This election will impact on us all too. Although we are desperately in need of electoral reform, we have to do the best we can with what we’ve got. So although it is your right to vote or not, I hope you decide to vote, and more, to vote the way you believe is best.
I’ve been trying to get the final proof of my novel done, so I’m spread a bit thin. Still, there’s been a flap about the proposed televised Federal Leadership Debate. The decision (by who?) has been made to exclude Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
The story they are trying to sell is that her exclusion stems from the fact no Green party member has yet been elected. Naturally this speaks to the issue of Electoral reform, since nearly a million Canadian citizens cast Green votes in the last election without electing one.
The thing is, we might have bought that argument had Elizabeth May not participated in just such a debate in a previous election. Excluding her now is not only grossly unfair, but a sign of just how well she did last time.
Unlike our American Neighbors, Canada is a multi-party country. So long as our nation subscribes to party politics, I’m inclined to think that any leadership debate ought to include the leaders of every registered political party. The point of an election is that the slate is wiped clean. No one has been elected yet for the 41st Parliament. So all the candidates – and leaders – ought to be treated as equals. I’m sure that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney would be happy to tell you what a difference an election can make.
It is in our own best interests to stand up for our democracy. The leader of Canada’s fledgling Pirate Party hit the nail on the head when he tweeted:
I don’t know about you, but as inefficient as our system is, and as badly as we need electoral reform, I’m rather partial to democracy.
And elections are a really good time to get out there and find out what the candidates think.
Or at least what they say.
Andrew Telegdi photo by Chris Slothouber
Tony Clement, Twitter account image (fair dealing)
Elizabeth May photo by Grant Neufeld, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5) License
All political logos reproduced as fair dealing.
All other images created by laurelrusswurm and released CC by-sa
Psssst… Malcolm, hate to tell you this, but the “loose tie” network told me…
via my wonderful UK Journalist source Glynn Moody dented “#acta: “Companies that benefit from using pirated software products will be exposed to criminal penalties” – http://bit.ly/d4oCdM clear?” on Identi.ca
which led me to the Government of Canada site where it took a little digging before I found
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which is in fact only most of the final text:
Negotiating Parties have agreed to release the October 2, 2010 text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Some Parties have expressed reservation on specific parts of the text, which are still under discussion. These parts are identified in the text by underlines and italic letters.
So, some bits aren’t in it. It would appear that ACTA has NOT in fact yet been signed by Canada. Of course I could be wrong, being a secret treaty and all, perhaps it’s been signed in secret?
ACTA just keeps on ticking….
Meanwhile, I was impressed with all the things you can find on the site (since Usage Based Billing won’t be implemented for a few months yet, Canadians can still afford to search the Internet):
and… Oh LOOK!… they have this lovely call for public Input on the site as well. Apparently it’s from way back in 2007 when our government was just contemplating entering into the secret ACTA trade agreement. Still looks to me as though the contact info is still good…
Hey Canada, why not tell them what we think about ACTA?
All parties interested in submitting comments regarding this initiative are invited to do so. Unless otherwise specified, all comments provided in this consultation can be made available to the public.
or Fax: 613-944-7981
or postal mail:
Consultations and Liaison Division (BSL)
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Funny, I never heard about the consultation back then. (And this was of course before it was leaked that the real thrust was the supposed Anti-Piracy bit).
Bill C-32 in Second Reading
Interestingly enough, the ACTA text is not yet finalized, consensus was NOT reached, with no further negotiation planned, yet all the countries are supposed to sign it anyway. Huh?
I guess all the other countries are simply expected to bow down to the USTR position? That would be the same USTR that routinely libels and slanders Canada as a ‘pirate haven’ when the facts show that the United States has far higher rates of both copyright infringement and bootlegging than Canada does, in spite of (or maybe because of?) the more repressive DMCA legislation. At least unless Bill C-32 passes, since the Canadian DMCA would leave Canada with the more repressive copyright legislation, since even the American DMCA doesn’t go so far as to criminalize non-infringing circumvention of DRM. Even under the DMCA Americans are allowed to break the digital locks placed by manufacturers and rights holders on digital devices and media if copyright isn’t being infringed.
Speaking of digital “piracy,’ as of course our intrepid Minister of Heritage did the other day in his speech launching the second reading of Bill C-32 in Parliament…
why isn’t the word ‘piracy’ mentioned even once in Bill C-32, the supposed Copyright Modernization Act?
Could it be that if the word ‘piracy were included in the legislation it would then require definition?
Once you assign a legal definition to a word like ‘piracy’ you are stuck with it. If ‘Intellectual Property piracy’ had a legal definition under Canadian law, that would make it much harder to allow the word the flexibility to cover all the diverse aspersions and innuendos that the Honourable Mr. Moore chooses to cast around. By keeping it vague, ‘piracy’ can mean whatever it is you think it means in your own head, without having to rely on anything as pragmatic as facts.
And of course, our Heritage Minister can also rail against piracy to the approbation of law abiding Canadians who don’t realize that he’s talking about format shifting their own legally purchased property and equating that with commercial bootlegging.
Astroturf is a kind of simulated grass that was invented to cover sports playing fields. Particularly in the spring rainy season. Astroturf’s synthetic grass surface is desirable because it is better to play football on than mud.
Lately I’ve learned that “astroturf” has also come to mean a simulated grassroots movement.
In today’s world, grassroots movements have become increasingly important because the Internet allows communities to spontaneously unite far more quickly and effectively than ever before. Now that the news media is online many online articles provide ordinary people an opportunity to comment on the news. Quite often you’ll find trolls or shills talking against the natural flow.
Some trolls are just in it for the fun of wreaking havoc… in exactly the same way some children behave badly because bad attention is better than no attention. But an increasing number of Trolls seem to be shills.
When a corporation or a government (or both) is doing something that they know will be bad for people, they try to deflect or derail public outcry by contracting shills. These paid lobbyists masquerade as disinterested parties in order to promote their master’s agenda through the simulation of community support.
On CBC Usage Based Billing article comments I’ve often noticed people claiming to be ordinary consumers arguing Canadian Internet costs should be doubled. Reasonable assumption: not just a troll, but a shill.
The Internet gives citizens a voice.
In this day and age the Internet has brought down the physical barriers to both organizing and advocacy.
Today we can blog about bad stuff.
Or create a website to push for change.
When laws detrimental to us are tabled, in today’s world citizens can TWEET our displeasure.
And organize on a Facebook page.
One of the reasons real grassroots movements can be so powerful is that they are made up of people who believe in something. They may not have much money but they have commitment and passion.
Powerful corporate interests try to drown us out the way they have always drowned us out: with money.
They have to pay for astroturf. Being a shill must be a growth Industry with the armies of shills repeating misinformation. They try to convince us that an agenda which benefits them at our expense is a good thing. Left unchallenged repeated misinformation can very easily come to be accepted as fact.
Campaigns of misinformation exist because they work. Calling something by the wrong name enough times starts by confusing the issue, but it really doesn’t take long before people start believing it. Especially if they have a limited knowledge of the subject. This is why it is critically important to challenge misinformation.
Because except for the misinformed, the only supporters of an agenda contrary to the public good are those who will profit from it.
In January I saw a photo picturing three Regina protesters carrying pro Harper placards in support of Prime Minister Harper’s premature prorogation which provided a counterpoint to Regina’s hundreds out protesting the prorogation. Were these three a Conservative Party attempt at astroturfing?
The same way powerful interests purchase advertising they purchase astroturf. The biggest difference is that advertisements are more honest– they are clearly advertisements.
“Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (“outreach”, “awareness”, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual promoting a personal agenda, or highly organized professional groups with money from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often, the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research. Beneficiaries are not “grass root” campaigners but distant organizations that orchestrate such campaigns.”
The Office of the United States Trade Representative‘s infamous USTR Watch List is a prime example of misinformation mongering. The USTR has been making a point to include Canada on their watch list as a “haven for piracy” for years—- as long as the MPAA/RIAA has been lobbying Canada to pass copyright law beneficial to them.
The USTR watch list is supposedly a list of countries that don’t play by the rules. Canada’s inclusion on this list has been debunked by a whole host of authoritative voices speaking against it — including Michael Geist, Howard Knopf, as well as the American advocacy groups Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge. It seems the United States itself is much more of a “Pirate Haven” than Canada is (with some evidence suggesting that the DMCA may be a contributing factor to American IP piracy).
Yet because of the USTR’s watch list there have been a continuous stream of articles quoting the misinformation that Canada is a “pirate haven”.
Of course, Canada does have the Pirate Party of Canada. Like all the other Pirate Parties, the PPoC seeks balanced copyright legislation. They are a registered Canadian Political party who will no doubt field candidates for the next federal election. At this point Pirate Parties have sprung up in virtually every country in the world because “copyright” is being used as an excuse to assail freedom in every part of the world. And the United States has TWO: The American Pirate Party and the United States Pirate Party.]
Probably the most famous astroturf group in the world today is “Balanced Copyright For Canada” who seem to be merrily astroturfing in support of Bill C-32, the supposed Copyright “Modernization” Bill. And you can bet they are seeding their website with as many mischaracterizations of Canada as a “pirate haven” as they can find. Of course, this is exactly the point of the USTR watch list. The USTR’s agenda is the supremacy of the United States in the world market.
The Balanced Copyright for Canada website is shrouded in mystery. Jesse Brown has been investigating trading tweets with CopyrightCanada since Monday. Apparently 130 members were initially listed on the site as members but that list seems to have vanished after Jesse tweeted that “everyone seems to work for a major music label”. So Balanced Copyright for Canada may well be made up of CRIA members along with employees economically influenced to join.
Jesse Brown seems to be pretty certain that the CRIA is behind the Balanced Copyright for Canada group. That would make sense since the CRIA is certainly one of the strongest proponents of Bill C-32. More than anyone The part of the Canadian music industry represented by the CRIA (which is to say the four music industry giants which happen to be the Canadian offshoots of the American RIAA) have been most affected by technology improvements. The CRIA used to control 99% of the Canadian recording industry but today their share of the market has dropped to a mere 70%. Although the CRIA proclaims piracy is why their profits have reduced they seem to ignore the fact that they’ve lost 30% of the market to Independents. A growing number of Canadian recording artists prefer to record their music independently and retain control of their own copyright. Perhaps it’s time for the CRIA to truly modernize their own business model instead of squandering their resources trying to legislate Canada back into the twentieth century.
[I have to put “modernization” in quotations because Bill C-32 is antithesis of "modernizing"... but then the routine assignment of misleading names to legislation is another trend I could do without.]
US record labels starts fake “citizen’s group” to support Canada’s DMCA article prompted boingboing reader Mark‘s comment that the photo used on the front page is a commercial image licensed from istock photo: Happy young men and women standing together – at least I hope they licensed it legally. If you look at the tiny “approval” Thumbnail to the right you can see that the image is not distorted, while the image used on the Balanced Copyright for Canada is distorted, most notably in the women at either end, which may well be copy protection.
You have to wonder if Balanced Copyright for Canada is a real grassroots group made up of artists, independents & folks involved in the recording industry as they claim, why did they have to buy an image?
I have yet to meet any kind of artist or creator who was limited to a single discipline. Surely if this is actually a coalition of creatives they would have somebody who could have taken a real picture?
A real grassroots movement would be unlikely to seeking out a commercial photo or justifying the expense when they could easily snap a shot of actual members. Astroturfers tend to be long on funds and short on committed members, so naturally they would have the necessary funds to purchase a commercial photo.
Shall I mention the irony of a group fighting for copyright (and royalties) opting for a one time cash flat rate that is conveniently royalty free?
This secretive http://balancedcopyrightforcanada.ca/ was forced to settle for the very long domain name since the Pirate Party of Canada had already registered the sleeker http://balancedcopyright.ca/ domain, which was apparently also sought by the Government of Canada earlier in the month.
More than eight thousand Canadians who made submissions to the 2009 Canadian Copyright Consultation, most of which opposed to a reprise of Bill C-61. Michael Geist’s breakdown shows “6641 Submissions were against anti-circumvention or in favour of limiting DRM/Digital locks”, yet Bill C-32 has actually made the digital lock provisions even more onerous than those in their previous Bill C-61.
The Canadian Government elected not to make a submission to the USTR in protest of Canada’s specious inclusion on the USTR 301 watch list, nor have they emitted a peep to defend Canada’s right as a sovereign nation to draft our own laws.
Instead, the Canadian Government has tabled Bill C-32. Incredibly,
“The Tories held a press conference on the bill at the Montreal office of a U.S. video-game software developer Wednesday, a move intended to drive home the message that cracking down on copyright infringement protects investment in Canada.”
Would you hold a press conference announcing “made in Canada” copyright legislation in the business office of a corporation from a foreign nation?
What kind of message would that send about our country’s sovereignty?
The thing that bothers me the most about THAT is the fact that it hasn’t raised an eyebrow.
Whose law is it anyway?
Hello? Before Canada starts passing American legislation, perhaps we ought to have a referendum to decide if we wish Canada to become an American protectorate.
In Reality check: Anti-consumer copyright bill: written for the US, undermined by Ministers’ own behaviour the NDP showed the PMO’s position to be:
“We don’t care what you do, as long as the U.S. is satisfied.”
Heritage Minister James Moore dismissed the concerns of Mme. Lavallée, the Honourable Member from Saint- Bruno—Saint-Hubert when she questioned him about C-32’s failure to serve consumers with assurances that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce supported C-32. Moore’s apparent lack of comprehension that the Chamber of Commerce is a business lobby group rather than a consumer one sparked a letter refuting Moore’s claims that Canadian consumers support Bill C-32 reported in the CBC story Consumer groups blast Moore over copyright.
Citizens don’t want this law.
Why is the Canadian Government pursuing this so strongly?
Perhaps it’s time our Government started thinking about what legislating Canadian Copyright Law to appease foreign Interests will do to Canadian Heritage.
Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA
Title amendment at June 1st, 2010
Michael Geist says that they are planning to call the new “copyright” law
the Digital Copyright Modernization Act or Canadian DCMA
I guess that ways they can say it isn’t a “Canadian DMCA” with a straight face…. llr
Yesterday morning I was just taking a quick peek at Twitter before getting back to revisions when I saw a tweet from The Electronic Frontier Foundation:
RT@BoingBoing Canadian Prime Minister promises to enact a Canadian DMCA in six weeks http://bit.ly/c8Re4h
That did not sound promising. In fact it sounded downright scary. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) is widely known to be a deeply flawed draconian copyright law. And that isn’t just a Canadian perception, that’s an opinion shared by many people around the world. It is reasonable to assume that a good part of the citizen resistance to A.C.T.A. is a direct result of seeing the DMCA in action.
You might wonder why I am so concerned. After all, this is just the announcement of a bill that won’t even be available for First Reading before June. This bill is so new it doesn’t have a number yet. But previous drafts of so called Canadian “copyright reforms” have been bad. And the fact that representatives of this government are involved in the fast tracked secret A.C.T.A. negotiations does not instill confidence.
It seems that increasingly our elected representatives choose to ignore Canadians. After all, more than eight thousand concerned Canadians made submissions to the copyright consultation. What we said appears not to have been heard by our government.
As a mother, I have a powerful stake in the future. As a creator and a consumer, copyright is also very important to me. But I am only a private citizen. One person. So it takes a lot to make my voice heard.
When my government demonstrates its willingness to ignore not just my voice, but the voices of thousands of my fellow citizens, then I need to do my best to encourage even more citizens to speak up. That means starting now, before the new bill is released to public scrutiny because there must be time to inform many more Canadians of the issue.
In 2007, the architect of the DMCA and the WIPO Internet Treaties admitted:
“…our attempts at copyright control have not been successful…”
—Chairman Bruce Lehman, International Intellectual Property Institute March 24, 2007
boingboing: DMCA’s author says the DMCA is a failure, blames record industry
Like most Canadians, back then I was so busy with my life that I wasn’t paying much attention. I was leaving politics and lawmaking to the professionals. After all, that’s what they’re paid for, right?
It seems that the politicians want Canada to ratify the WIPO treaties. But that can’t happen until we have enacted domestic laws to back them up. This is why first the Liberals, and now the Conservatives, are trying to put through copyright reform.
The thing of it is, according to Howard Knopf Canada has strong copyright Laws, maybe too strong. In many ways stronger than American Copyright Law.
Now, in 2010, the EFF has made this assessment of the DMCA:
- The DMCA Chills Free Expression and Scientific Research.
Experience with section 1201 demonstrates that it is being used to stifle free speech and scientific research. The lawsuit against 2600 magazine, threats against Princeton Professor Edward Felten’s team of researchers, and prosecution of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov have chilled the legitimate activities of journalists, publishers, scientists, students, programmers, and members of the public.
- The DMCA Jeopardizes Fair Use.
By banning all acts of circumvention, and all technologies and tools that can be used for circumvention, the DMCA grants to copyright owners the power to unilaterally eliminate the public’s fair use rights. Already, the movie industry’s use of encryption on DVDs has curtailed consumers’ ability to make legitimate, personal-use copies of movies they have purchased.
- The DMCA Impedes Competition and Innovation.
Rather than focusing on pirates, some have wielded the DMCA to hinder legitimate competitors. For example, the DMCA has been used to block aftermarket competition in laser printer toner cartridges, garage door openers, and computer maintenance services. Similarly, Apple has used the DMCA to tie its iPhone and iPod devices to Apple’s own software and services.
- The DMCA Interferes with Computer Intrusion Laws.
Further, the DMCA has been misused as a general-purpose prohibition on computer network access, a task for which it was not designed and to which it is ill-suited. For example, a disgruntled employer used the DMCA against a former contractor for simply connecting to the company’s computer system through a virtual private network (“VPN”).”
— Electronic Frontier Foundation, Unintended Consequences: Twelve Years under the DMCA
Canada has been under heavy pressure from the United States to follow their legislative lead and create our own DMCA.
First, the Liberal Party of Canada gave it a try with Bill C-60. Fortunately for Canada, the Liberal Party had a minority government at the time and a non-confidence vote killed their Bill C-60. I have no doubt that this law would have passed had there been a Liberal majority.
Next, the Conservative Party of Canada put forth their own Bill C-61 in an attempt to create a Canadian DMCA. Canada was again lucky to have a minority government. There was an even greater outcry from the citizenry. Embarrassing articles in ars technica: “Canadian DMCA” brings “balanced” copyright to Canada and boingboing: Canadian DMCA is worse than the American one seem to have been prevalent. I have no doubt that this law would have passed had there been a Conservative majority.
Luckily for us, Bill C-61 was scrapped by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first premature prorogation. The Conservatives promised to re-introduce Bill C-61 if they were re-elected. But although they were re-elected, it was without the majority they expected.
but we can’t bank on being lucky
With a minority government, the Conservative government took the reasonable path of addressing one of the chief complaints about the previous attempts — lack of meaningful public consultation. The Ministry of Industry mounted a Canada wide Copyright Consultation. They held “Town Hall” meetings across the country. Unfortunately complaints of “stacking” the speakers, incidents of interested parties being prevented from disseminating literature, or citizens being denied access to the “town hall” venues of these “public” meetings were leveled throughout this part of the process.
But this is the 21st Century. They don’t call this the Information Age for nothing. And to their credit, Industry Canada’s web site hosted an online consultation that would accept submissions from any and all Canadians who cared to speak up. As a citizen, I thought this a good use of technology. This is a prime example of just how democracy can be fine tuned to accurately reflect the will of the people in the 21st Century.
Isn’t the point of a democracy the creation of laws that reflect society’s mores?
How better than to assess the wants and needs of Canadian society than by soliciting the input of concerned Canadians?
More than 8,000 Canadians made written copyright consultation submissions answering the handful of questions posed by the Ministry. Michael Geist provided a nice breakdown and this rebuttal of Robert Owen’s analysis is a good too.
The Canadian government asked for citizen input and they got it. Instead of the few hundred submissions that I gather are a more common response, they received thousands of submissions. Many Canadians assumed that our government might actually consider what we told them. After all, they asked us what we thought.
Was the copyright consultation all smoke and mirrors?
Apparently the phrase “Canadian DMCA” got so much play yesterday that it actually became a Twitter trending topic. Hmmmm, sure sounds as though Canadians actually care about this issue.
the boingboing comment that got to me was
CG • #9said:
“…they didn’t listen to the consultation; why would they listen this time?”
If we look at it that way, and throw up our hands in disgust, THEY WILL HAVE WON.
How is the government looking at this? This is a protest by a “special interest group”. A mere handful of Canadians… less than 9,000… made submissions. Come on, out of 33 million? That’s only a tiny fraction. Do the math.
Prime Minister Harper doesn’t think it is enough opposition to make a difference. After all, it is ONLY some lowly radical tech people who are against it. And maybe a few of the musicians who have begun establishing recording careers without having to give record companies their copyright. [Did you know that 30% of the Canadian recording industry has gone independent? Is THAT the real reason the music biz wants to stop p2p?]
The problem is that the Government is correct. Most Canadians don’t understand what is happening or what this will mean.
Perhaps our government is counting on us getting angry at being ignored, and then frustrated beyond endurance, until we come to the point we have to give up and get on with our real lives, leaving them free to do whatever they want.
In this instance pandering to the American Government– who are in turn pandering to their own giant media corporations. Make no mistake– the American DMCA does not serve American citizens, it serves American corporations. You know the ones I mean. Corporations like Disney, who want copyright to never end. Corporations like the big music companies who used to control the entire recording industry of the entire world. In Canada, that’s the CRIA, the “Big Four” American branch plants that used to control 100% of the Canadian recording Industry.
Since the advent of the Internet, and p2p filesharing, Canadian musicians are going independent. Leaving the four CRIA record companies in control of only 70% of the Canadian recording industry.
That is probably the real reason Canada makes it onto the USTR watch list every year. That USTR list is one of the main reasons why Canada is perceived to be a haven of piracy when in fact there is far less infringement here than most places. Certainly less than the United States. On April 14th of this year, Michael Geist reported American government findings: U.S. Government Study: Counterfeiting and Piracy Data Unreliable, and on April 30th USTR’s Bully Report Unfairly Blames Canada Again. Yet the Canadian government didn’t even make an issue of this or make a submission to the USTR.
So the United States keeps putting Canada on their “watch list”. Our friendly neighbor to the south is accusing us — in the absence of credible facts — of being a pirate nation.
First they call us names, and malign our international reputation, but then they promise to stop if we give them what they want. Isn’t there a word for that?
All they want is our sovereignty.
This is why it so important to NOT GIVE UP.
Canadians can’t afford to give up in frustration. And there are things to do. If enough of us do them, we may be heard.
- 1. First: TELL everybody that you know. The mainstream news media isn’t talking about it, so we need to.
- 2. EXPLAIN the issues to everybody who will listen. If you can’t explain it, (after all, how many of us are IP lawyers?) send them to any of the links above, send them to Michael Geist, Howard Knopf, BoingBoing, p2pnet, zeropaid, wikipedia… wherever, whatever it takes.
- 3. Write letters to politicians.
- 4. Submit letters to the Editor to your local newspaper, or one of the national ones, or magazines like MacLeans. Comment online (where appropriate). Talk to your local radio station– great interview topic, make for a good phone in show… Or find a local Indie band. Chances are they will know exactly how important this fight is. Maybe they’ll play a free concert in the park to raise awareness.
- 5. Blog if you’ve got a blog. If you don’t, it’s really easy to start one. (most blogs are much shorter than this. Really.) If you really don’t want to start a blog, but you’ve got something to say, contact me (or another blogger of your choice) about doing a guest blog post.
- 6. Use Twitter, Identi.ca, Facebook, IRC channel chat rooms– or any other internet information sharing thing you are part of– to spread the word. (Michael Geist has a Fair Copyright for Canada group on Facebook, and the Facebook CAPP group is still out there.
- 7. There is also Fairvote Canada a grass roots non-partisan electoral reform movement which is growing local chapters across the country. On Wednesday May 12th the Waterloo, Chapter is hosting a debate Debate: Strategic Voting – What’s a voter to do?.
Michael Geist recommends sending an actual paper mail letter via snail mail postal mail. Right or wrong, politicians attach far more weight to paper letters than email. After all, anyone could say they were anyone on an email. (Like that doesn’t hold true for a paper letter.) But email is EASY. It takes so little effort for us to send that maybe it doesn’t mean we’re really serious. We haven’t showed our commitment to the issue by writing on actual paper and giving Canada Post something to do. Last year when I emailed politicians about an issue, some of them weren’t tech savvy enough to turn off the email confirmations. Of those, about half confirmed that my email was deleted without being read. So look at it this way, if you send them a paper letter, someone in the office has to at least open it before throwing it out.
If you don’t know who your representative is in your riding, this is a link to the MP postal code look-up. Find your MP and the first letter should go to your own MP, but don’t stop there. Send letters to:
The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons
Minister of Industry
The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B.
House of Commons
Minister of Heritage
The Hon. James Moore, P.C., B.A.
House of Commons
Michael Ignatieff, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
House of Commons
[*M. Duceppe would prefer communication in French, but I've heard that he's classy enough to respond to mono-lingual English speakers in English
(in other words, English would be better than a bad Google translation]
The Hon. Jack Layton, P.C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
House of Commons
NDP Technology Critic
House of Commons
Unelected leader of the Green Party
[The green party of canada only makes phone and web contact information available on their site. I guess that's a reasonable stance for an environmental party.
(Maybe I just couldn't find it since I'm tired, being up way past my bedtime to finish this.) You could call during business hours, but my guess is that emailing would be fine here.]
The Unelected Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada
Pirate Party of Canada
43 Samson Blvd #165
Laval QC H7X 3R8
[Since the Pirate Party exists to promote copyright reform, it's reasonable to assume they oppose any DMCA like legislation, but it wouldn't hurt to discuss the issues with them. One reason I plug them is because they legally distribute music from some great Canadian bands free online through their p2p Pirate Tracker. Great for Canadian heritage, eh? Last I heard the PPOC was expecting the official party status notification which will make them eligible to field candidates for the next Federal Election.]
It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ferret out any smaller political parties that may exist in your riding. Wikipedia of course has a list of canadian political parties which would be an excellent starting point. The more people we have talking about copyright, the better
It has taken so long to get this article done that it’s Thursday… and I’m just about to post this monstrosity but I thought I’d include a link to Michael Geist’s latest on the subject Covering the Return of the Canadian DMCA as he’s included many links to articles I haven’t had time to look at yet both online and (ahem) in the mainstream news media.
(If there’s enough buzz, the mainstream HAS to follow.)
Get involved. There are many ways to participate. It’s for our future.
Update May 9th, 2010
It wouldn’t hurt to add two more to the list of letter recipients:
Liberal Industry critic
House of Commons
Liberal Heritage critic
House of Commons
These late additions are courtesy of Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights. This group has a nice form letter on offer so you can Send A Letter To Ottawa To Stop The Canadian DMCA. You can customize the letter in their online form, and when you submit it, they will electronically submit your letter to an array of politicians (a less extensive list than mine, which is a kitchen sink approach) and then the CCER also undertakes to forward a hard copy to these same politicians.
Certainly it is less work to allow someone else to do the mailing for you, but that’s always a bit dangerous. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself online–a simple internet security safeguard– is to not give out any more personal info than you absolutely have to online. There are times when we haven’t a choice. When dealing with my bank, I HAVE to identify myself to them if I want to be able to access my cash. But then, I only access my bank through their secure (read encrypted) web page.
I wouldn’t use a form myself, partly because I’m a writer, and partly because, like email, politicians assign less weight to a form letter. On the other hand, a form letter is much better than no response at all. Of course, I might cut and past their form letter into Open Office to use as a road map for writing my own.
This is not to malign the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights. They are just trying to make it as easy as possible for concerned citizens to put their two cents worth in, because the CCER understands the importance of speaking out. But ANY time you fill in a form like this and send your unencrypted personal information over the Internet it can easily go astray or be harvested by spammers. Especially in Canada where the CRTC has given Bell Canada permission to use Deep Packet Inspection on Canadian Internet traffic. DPI makes it possible for Bell to see anything unencrypted that we put online. Bell Canada assured the CRTC that it would not abuse this process, but there is no oversight or any meaningful complaint procedure in place should your personal information be compromised in any way.
I’ll opt for caution.
P.S. The bill is scheduled to be tabled (introduced into the legislature, I think that means first reading but I may be wrong) this afternoon.
For breaking news check Michael Geist’s blog. Curerently this is the latest: