Will “American Censorship” Impact on Canada?

[American Censorship” refers to the two Internet Blacklist Bills currently enroute to becoming law. The PROTECT IP bill is currently before the American Senate, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is in their House of Representatives. ]

Easy answer: Of course it will.

Website Blocking

The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users.

Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users
It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.

Chaos for the Internet

Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the internet more secure wouldn’t be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system.

American Censorship Day

Q: What is the DNS system?
A: The DNS or Domain Name System is the hierarchy that controls the Internet URL naming conventions. If you want to set up your own website, the current common use is to register a domain name, to make it easy for users to find your website online. In the beginning, domain name registration was free, nowadays there is an annual charge. You can get a domain through a company like godaddy or choose a privacy respecting registrar like the one I use, Register 4 Less which can be found at https://secure.register4less.com/

This means that you can easily find Google at https://www.google.com/ or Josh Woodward’s music at http://www.joshwoodward.com/ or my brother Larry’s humour blog at http://www.larryrusswurm.com/
One of the most important functions of the Domain Name registration is to ensure that there is only one of each name.

Q: How does Internet Black Listing work?
A: It doesn’t actually turn off the website, it simply removes the site’s domain name. In cases of egregious law breaking, such as child pornography or even copyright infringement, this does nothing to prevent the breaking of these laws. The blocked website still exists, and will continue to be accessed by law breakers via numerical static IP addresses.

The ineffectiveness of black listing has actually been demonstrated when the American government sought to censor WikiLeaks. Removing the domain name from the registry does not remove the IP address.

But what it will do is make it easier to block competition and innovation while making it more difficult for users to find the websites they want.

Q: How will Website Blocking affect Canada?
A: The Internet is all over the world.

If Websites are only blocked within the United States, American customers will find it difficult, impossible or perhaps illegal to access these blocked websites. If A Canadian website is accused of infringement, whether real or imagined, this blocking will mean the loss of American customers.

If blocking is done by DNS domain name removal, this will affect websites the world over.

Q: How will the Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users affect Canada?
A: Richard O’Dwyer, a British University Student is currently facing extradition to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement under existing laws.

Need I say more?

Q: What do they mean when they warn about “Chaos for the Internet?”
A: Different laws exist in different countries.

The Internet is comprised of networked connections all over the world.

USA

American Flag hangs downCurrent American law provides for “safe harbors” which protect sites like Facebook, Flickr, and G+ as well as independent blogs and comments from legal liability in the event a third party posts illegal material.

Without this, the Internet will cease to be an interactive medium, because no one, whether independent bloggers or Internet giants like Wikipedia will have the luxury of allowing third party posting.  A malicious edit in Wikipedia could spell the end of the fifth largest website in the world.  YouTube can’t afford to screen every video for potential IP violation.  Most Independent bloggers don’t have legal departments.

Canadian innovation

The Maple Leaf part of a Canadian FlagCanadian law is different than American law. Although Canadians are some of the most active people online, we seem to be users rather than pioneers. Recently Michael Geist appeared before Canada’s Standing Committee on Industry and explained the legal barriers that existing Canadian law has thrown up before innovative Canadian startups that might have become a YouTube, a Google, a Facebook or a Skype.

Canadian free speech

Recently the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court in the land, established that Canadian Law should “Avoid restricting the free flow of expression.”

Yet it seems that elements of the proposed Protect IP and SOPA laws seek to make hyperlinking potentially a criminal act. Search engines would be compelled to remove links from search results.

existing Canadian copyright law

IP lawyer Howard Knopf shows that Canadian Copyright law is currently far stronger – and more restrictive to creativity – than American Copyright Law is currently.   In Canada we have slightly shorter copyright terms than they have in the United States. I don’t believe Bill C-11 will increase this term if it passes.

Under existing law, Wikipedia is considering removing this photograph of Ontario’s Elmira District Secondary School ~ the school I attended ~ even though it is legal to use this image in Canada, if it is not legal under existing American Law.

This tinted photo of the original school building ~ Canadian history uploaded to Wikipedia by Dconlon268 ~ hung in Elmira District Secondary School when I was a student there more than 30 years ago.

This Canadian work is in the public domain in Canada because its copyright has expired for one of the following reasons:

1. it was subject to Crown copyright and was first published more than 50 years ago, or

it was not subject to Crown copyright, and

2. it is a photograph that was created before January 1, 1949, or

3. the creator died more than 49 years ago.

The media description page should identify which reason applies.

This file is only in the public domain in the United States if it entered the public domain in Canada prior to 1996. This image can only be kept if it is also in the public domain in the US. If it is in the public domain in both Canada and the United States it may be transferred to the Wikimedia Commons.

Note: If this image is in the public domain in the US, modify the end of the copyright tag from “}}” to “|commons}}”. This will replace the preceding US copyright notification with a nomination for this image to be moved to the Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia

Canada is a sovereign nation

Canadian DMCA

It is bad enough that the American government has brought pressure to bear against our government in an effort to compel passage of a Canadian DMCA with Bill C-11 the so-called “Copyright Modernization Act.”

If these American Censorship Laws pass, like ACTA, they will be used to impose American Law on Canada and the rest of the world.

This will affect Canadians, and everyone else.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image Credits:
Map of the Internet – photo by the Opte Project released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 1.0) License

EDSS Old School” Canadian Public domain image, posted to Wikipedia by Dconlon268

The Canadian DMCA logo freed into the public domain CCO 1.0 by laurelrusswurm

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Fighting for Our Freedom

Maybe it’s because of movies I’ve seen, or possibly because of my interest in history, or both, but Remembrance Day has always been important to me.

When I was a kid I borrowed the vinyl LP “Billy Bishop Goes To War” from the local public library. More than once.
This masterpiece of Canadian theatre has everything that a good war story ought to have. Humour. Drama. A valient hero. Politics. And tragedy. Later I bought my own copy, which I played for my child on Remembrance Day.

One of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard is Chris DeBurgh’s “This Song For You.”

And the best war movies I’ve seen were William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, Hal Ashby’s Coming Home , and, best of all, Peter Weir’s Gallipoli

All are powerful works of art, each carrying the clear message that wars should be avoided.

On past Remembrance Days I’ve written about copyright in The Eleventh Minute, the Eleventh Hour, the Eleventh Day and the tragic monument at the University of Toronto: In Flanders Fields….

If ye break faith with us who die
“ If ye break faith with us who die ” — In Flanders Fields, John McCrae

Sadly, the wrongs that I wrote about have not yet been righted. Earlier this week my friend Satipera shared this powerful article from the UK which looks closely at the wearing of the poppy Robert Fisk: Do those who flaunt the poppy on their lapels know that they mock the war dead?

I very much doubt that a single Canadian politician anywhere in the world will be without a poppy today. Yet who, more than they, hold the responsibility for the continued sacrifice of a new crop of young Canadians soldiers engaged in a war because … ?

“Since 2001, 158 Canadians have died in Afghanistan and another 6,700 are collecting disability payments from Veterans Affairs, about 130 of them under the age of 25. ”

— Tamsin McMahon ~ National Post: “Canada’s newest veterans having trouble accepting the label

A poppy with a "free Byron" center

Canada has been involved in an almost invisible war for nearly a decade. It is barely spoken of, but young Canadians fight and die and I can’t tell you why. I suspect they can’t, either. Unlike the glamorous Great War, or the Second World War, the only citizens who are really involved and affected are the Canadians whose children are overseas, fighting and dying. Has a decade of this fixed anything? Has anything good come of this war? A war that Canada is supposed to be withdrawing from by the end of this year. Will we really withdraw?

I can’t begin to count the times in my life that I’ve heard it said that our soldiers fought for our freedom. But there is much less freedom now than there was when I was young.

The erosion of civil rights that the blood of our soldiers was to have bought for us was never more clear than in the events around last year’s G20 Summit in Toronto.

Today, Canadians across the country are organizing and participating in the “Occupy” movement.

And Byron Sonne is on trial in Toronto.  He’s fighting for his freedom, and ours.

Where did our freedom go?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image credits

Airfield to Salute” photograph by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez
Wikipedia: KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–Troops deployed to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command South gathered on the flightline of Kandahar Air Field to salute fallen Canadian servicemember Sapper Sean David Greenfield on February 1, 2009. Greenfield, who was deployed as part of the 24 Field Engineers Squadron out of Petawawa, Ontario, was killed in action in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province on Jan. 31, 2009 ISAF photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez (RELEASED). ~ This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made during the course of the person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

freebyron poppy cc by laurelrusswurm

WikiLeaks Cable dictates Canadian Copyright Law C-32

Canadian DMCA
Many Canadians had strong suspicions about the similarity between the Liberal Bill C-60 and the Conservative Bill C-61.

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

WikiLeaks logo

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
owners.

09STATE92113, TALKING POINTS ON COPYRIGHT LEGISLATION FOR USE WITH GOC

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
adequate legislation.

09STATE92113, TALKING POINTS ON COPYRIGHT LEGISLATION FOR USE WITH GOC
red maple leaf graphic

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.

Flag on the left with bright sky

Journalism Should Not Be Fiction

Freedom's Journal graphic reproduction newspaper cc by lothlaurien.ca

I just read a very disturbing Haaretz article, An inside look at the WikiLeaks revolution, in that the author assumes facts not in evidence.

Bradley Manning has been charged but not heard. The word “alleged” is traditionally used in real journalism to describe charges laid but unproven. Under American law, that means that Bradley Manning is innocent– it’s called “The Presumption of Innocence.”

fiction

As a fiction author, when I am writing a script or a novel, I can ascribe emotions and feelings to the characters I write because they are my creations.

journalism

When I write a news article, however, I stick to recounting only what is factually known.

It is not appropriate to describe emotions and feelings and exact actions of others as facts, particularly respecting events at which I have not been present, when writing a news piece, or even an opinion piece.

reality

The sum of the case against Bradley Manning seems based on an alleged confession to a potentially unreliable witness. No evidence has been proven in a court of law. The case has not been heard. Allegations and hearsay are not facts.

The same actually holds true for the Swedish charges brought against Mr. Assange. There the facts of that case are equally unproven. He has not been convicted of anything, yet like Private Manning, Assange has been deprived of his liberty. [Although there is a world of difference between the two, deprivation of liberty is serious business.

perhaps a career change is in order?

Haaretz’ writer Yossi Melman should consider writing novels where flights of fancy are acceptable, even admirable. Writing fictional accounts in the guise of reportage is certainly not admirable, and in fact is generally considered unacceptable. Fraudulent, even. The point to remember is that the news is generally about real people. What one says or writes can have real repercussions.

I recommend reading Cynthia Bazinet’s more in depth look at this dreadful excuse for ‘journalism’ here. This goes well beyond the watch dog press being dead.

La Quadrature du Net on Censorship

Net Neutrality is necessary to the Internet, for the good of us all. The La Quadrature du Net group continually impresses me with their thoughtfulness, commitment, dedication and focus. [As a mono-lingual Canadian living in a pseudo bi-lingual nation, I find it thrilling to see they operate so beautifully bilingually too!]

the Pi symbol enclosed in a circle on a blue field captioned La Quadrature du net

Internet blocking is a form of unacceptable censorship, and I believe it will do far more harm than good. Censorship inevitably does. But it’s a thorny issue, particularly when it comes done to some heinous perpetrators. It may seem like a good idea, but blocking a domain does not pull the plug, it simply turns out the light. The bad stuff keeps on in the dark. But LaQuadrature Du Net did a much more amazing job explaining the issue than I can, so I share it here:

The letter sent today to LIBE MEPs

Dear MEP,

black and white graphic of a man's face with hands covering his eyes and mouth.
La Quadrature Du Net on Internet Censorship

As the LIBE committee prepares to discuss the Angelilli Report regarding the blocking of child abuse websites, we call on you to go further than the rapporteur and reject any measure instrumentalizing the protection of children in ways that would install a censorship infrastructure on the Internet. Whether it is implemented at the EU or national level, blocking is a false solution to a very serious issue that deserves effective and resolute action:

* Blocking fails to give proper incentives for the removal of content, which is only way to actually tackle sexual abuse of children. As the example of Germany suggests, only measures tackling the problem at its roots (by deleting the incriminated content from the servers; by attacking financial flows) and the reinforcement of the means of police investigators can combat child pornography.
* Blocking is ineffective, since Internet blocking measures can be easily circumvented by people and criminal organisations exploiting child pornographic content.
* The Commission’s proposal ignores the risk of over-blocking – i.e the “collateral censorship” of perfectly lawful websites -, which will appear regardless of the filtering techniques that are chosen at the national level.
* The Commission’s proposal omits to specify that only judicial authorities should be entitled to allow Internet blocking measures to ensure that they are proportionate and respect the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Short of this crucial insurance, core principles of the rule of Law in the European Union will be undermined.
* The Commission’s proposal lacks protection against “mission creep”, i.e the extension of Internet blocking to new fields, such as copyright. Such severe measures could be extended to new fields in the near future, thereby further calling into question Europe’s fight for freedom of expression on the Internet and undermining its moral legitimacy at the international level.

We trust that you will protect the fundamental rights of EU citizens by expressing a clear refusal of filtering and blocking measures. We remain available for any inquiry you may have.

Sincerely,

Phone with the circle of EU stars captioned Click to Call Now

La Quadrature du Net, Net Censorship Comes Before the EU Parliament

This letter was written because the issue is coming before the EU parliament. If you live under the jurisdiction of the European Parliament, i can’t ask you strongly enough to visit the La Quadrature du Net site so you can find out what you can do to help prevent bad law but instead work for good.