Book Policy Review

Canadoan flag overlaid with the text title: Canada's Book Policy Review

Between July 20 and September 18, 2010 the Canadian Government accepted submissions for yet another consultation — a book policy review.   Right now Canadians can comment on the submissions until October 31st, then it will be on to “Phase 3: Roundtable discussions will be held in the coming months.”

I get most of my news online but the first I heard of it was in Michael Geist‘s blog last night.   Since this is a Department of Heritage consultation, I assume the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages probably “tweeted” about this on Twitter, but I can’t say for sure since @mpjamesmoore has blocked me (and other Canadian citizens) from following his Twitter tweets.

I don’t know how this public consultation was promoted or even if it was.   Maybe after the Copyright Consultation where most submissions gave opinions the government didn’t want to hear and the Digital Economy Consultation’s Long Form Census debacle, the Honourable James Moore prefers low profile “public consultations.”

Since I am working to Self Publish my debut novel “Inconstant Moon” as well as outlining my next (which I intend to write during NaNoWriMo) I don’t have time to even read all the consultation submissions right now.   For that matter, I don’t have time to write this.   But it was important so I’ve read some of them.

The Submissions

“Canadians are avid readers.   Recent research shows that Canadians spend at least six hours per week reading books for leisure and interest, while 85% of Canadians link reading to improved quality of life.”

Investing in the Future of Canadian Books: Review of the Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution – PART I: INTRODUCTION

Because of the very low profile, there was very little response, unlike, say, the Copyright Consultation.   In spite of the fact that Canada is clearly a nation of readers, only a single “reader” made a a submission.   Running the numbers there were submissions from:

  • 20 Publishers and/or Distributors
  • 10 Industry Associations (I’ve included the Union des écrivaines et des écrivains québécois here since it is a submission made by a union of writers)
  • 9 “Others”, organizations and individuals who may or may not fit in some of the listed categories
  • 3 retailers including Amazon, Chapters/Indigo and Association des libraires du Québec
  • 1 reader
  • 1 writer
  • —————————-
    44 Submissions Total

I was surprised not to see any submissions from Independent retailers, either.   Amazon.ca made some excellent points.

Consultation Question 7. Are there any new or emerging issues in the book industry, including those mentioned in the discussion paper, that are not sufficiently addressed by the current policy? If so, how should a modernized policy respond to these?
amazon.ca logo
Amazon.ca answer:
We agree with views expressed in the Discussion Paper that great change in the industry has come from the increased role of digital technology.   As evidenced by our own operations, the emergence of digital technology has introduced significant new creative developments and improvements in the distribution and sale of books.

In particular, new and emerging digital technologies have enabled different models of book publishing and distribution, such as print-on-demand and electronic books. The print-on-demand publishing model allows publishers to reduce costs by printing only in response to demand, to keep low-volume titles in print and available virtually forever, with very little cost, and to publish a broader variety of titles with less financial risk.

Additionally, when combined with a self-publishing platform, print-on-demand enables the wide distribution of relatively unknown authors who may otherwise entirely lack distribution.   The introduction and growth of digital content through such devices as Amazon’s own Kindle e-reader has created new opportunities for authors, publishers and distributors.   In light of our experience, we believe revisions to the Policy must take into account the significant role such technology plays today and will play in the future of the Canadian book industry.

Digital technology has effectively eroded many of the problems that the current policy seeks to address.   With the advances in technology, the choices available to Canadian authors, publishers and consumers are no longer local or national but global.   As stated by the Competition Policy Review Panel in its Report, “a country’s competitiveness depends on governments welcoming, rather than seeking to control, the new freedom of choices brought by the Internet as an agent of change.”   We believe that the Government should ensure that its policies remain responsive to changes in this industry.   The growing presence of the Internet, the significance of electronic books and the new channels for publishing and distributing books are important changes that emerged after the Policy was last revised in 1992.   We believe it is therefore necessary to update the Policy to account for these changes and remove the restrictions in the current Policy that seek to limit foreign investment in a digital age.

Submission from: Amazon.com.ca, Inc.

print on demand

“Before the law was brought in to restrict retailers to sourcing books from Canadian sources, orders could be sourced from Ingram Distributing in the US within 3 days where an order in Canada takes multiple weeks in most cases.”
Submission from: bookworm

The single Canadian writer to manage a submission was Wayne Kehl who addresses the P.O.D. issue and a few others in a submission I wholly agree with.   Wayne Kelh makes a lot of sense.   He also provides a bit of information that is actually pretty staggering:

The book-world has moved to Print on Demand publishing and even Canadian publishers have most of their books published in that format by Lightning Source Printing in the United States.”

Submission from: Wayne Kehl

If I had Made A Submission….

I would have done so as a consumer, a writer, and a self-publisher.

I might have mentioned some important facts gleaned from the Investing in the Future of Canadian Books position paper, Review of the Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution PART III: BOOK POLICY FRAMEWORK, such as “Currently, Canadian-owned publishers represent 96% of publishers operating in the domestic market” or that “Large multinational publishing houses represent 3.75% of the publishers operating in Canada, and generate 44% of industry revenues.”

But right now, my focus would clearly be on:

self publishing

Since I am working to self publish my debut novel “Inconstant Moon” (while outlining my next which I intend to write during NaNoWriMo) I don’t have time to even read all the consultation submissions right now.   For that matter, I don’t have time to write this.

Aside from the fact that I’ve always been a reader, this issue holds particular interest for me as a writer  as I’m about to self publish my debut novel, Inconstant Moon.   Just now I’m at the point of making final corrections to the proof, and when it’s ready, I will be uploading it to CreateSpace.   At that point I’ll be able to sell it as a Print On Demand (P.O.D.) book through Amazon.com.

reading the proof copy

It is rather irritating that although I am a Canadian writer, I will not be able to sell my novel through Amazon.ca as a P.O.D. book.   As I understand it, Canadian Government policy dictates that before I can sell my Canadian novel through Amazon.ca I would first have to provide inventory.   To my way of thinking that defeats the point of P.O.D.

This policy probably exists to “protect the Canadian Publishing Industry”, in this case specifically the printer/distributors.   It doesn’t do much to encourage Canadians to self publish.   Every Canadian grown option for self publishing P.O.D. requires a substantial cash outlay up front.   This policy may also help Canadian publishers by suppressing the ability of writers choosing to self publish independently.   This type of policy may have been effective in pre-Internet times, but today it negates the benefits to publishing that P.O.D. provides.

P.O.D. and digital distribution of literature are two new ways of publishing that the Canadian government must support if our book industry is to “remain current, effective, and responsive to a changing world.”

These are issues of grave importance to all Canadian authors and consumers, yet we have been seriously underrepresented in this public consultation.

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p.s. Of utmost importance to Canadian publishing is the Copyright reform: Bill C-32

The most pressing issue in the Canadian book world is the tabled Bill C-32.   Again, as a self publisher reliant on digital promotion and distribution methods, changes to Canadian copyright law like Bill C-32 pose an incredible danger to all types of digital production and distribution by making DRM circumvention illegal, when in fact it would be more reasonable for the government to make external DRM warning labels mandatory for any media or device encumbered with it.   Making DRM “sacrosanct” in copyright law would undoubtedly lead to universal application of DRM on all devices and media sold in the Canadian Market.

This kind of control could very easily be used to prevent the Independent production of digital work.   But that’s another issue for another day.


[I intend for this to be my last Oh! Canada post until December, as I plan to devote all of November to NaNoWriMo. Fingers crossed. 😀 —Laurel L. Russwurm]

 

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The evolution of @mpjamesmoore

First he was the iPod Minister.

Our Minister of Heritage James Moore presented himself as tech savvy with a twitter account and an iPod.

A thought: why not wait and actually *read* the legislation first before you pass judgement?
Tweeting my concerns about the impending copyright legislation got me this Twitter private message.

Seems I was right to be concerned. After holding a Canada wide Copyright Consultation which brought the unprecedented response of more than 8,000 mostly thoughtful submissions from Canadians, it appears that our Heritage Minister James Moore chose to ignore the overwhelming majority of Canadian responses which very clearly expressed a resounding “NO” to digital locks.

The draft legislation introduced into the legislature this year is misleadingly called “Bill C-32 The Copyright Modernization Act” but more accurately known to Canadians as the “Canadian DMCA” because it appears cut and pasted from the American DMCA. Ironically the American DMCA has been tempered over the last twelve years by citizen challenges, so the comparative harshness of the Canadian DMCA will seriously put Canadians at a disadvantage.

Then he was the iPadlock Minister.

Sadly this young politician doesn’t seem to handle opposition very well. He’s been known to use phrases like “radical extremists” about people who don’t share his views. The other thing that is quite disturbing is the fact that although @mpjamesmoore is tweeting as part of his job as our elected Minister of Heritage, he has taken to blocking citizens who disagree with him from “following him” on twitter.

In this private message @mpjamesmoore said Anyone can read my RSS feed @ www.jamesmoore.org If I don't want endless spam and/or lies and/pr smears and/or hate mail, yes, I will block
Tweeting about @mpjamesmoore blocking @russellmcormond I received this private Twitter message.

I was shocked by this second direct message from @james moore because none of the things he alludes to could possibly be attributable to @russellmcOrmond. I only know Russell McOrmond from his words that I’ve read and heard online, and his online presence is eminently reasonable. That @mpjamesmoore would imply such things about citizens in private Twitter messages as disturbing than his “radical extremist” faux pas.

But now he’s apparently the i-can’t-hear-you Minister

The political cartoon my brother posted on his blog The Many Rants of Larry Russwurm: “James Moore gets Cartoond” is quite funny but frighteningly apt.   It would have been my laugh of the day were it not for the fact that Canadians believe we live in a democracy. That’s supposed to mean that our elected representatives are public servants who work for us.

In particular government Ministers are supposed to represent all the citizens of Canada, not just the ones who agree with them.

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Three Strikes for Industry and Heritage

Last year the Industry Ministry held a public Copyright Consultation, soliciting Canadian input on copyright reform. More than 8,000 Canadians made submissions in last year’s Copyright Consultation, and these submissions overwhelmingly said

“NO”

to Digital Locks, or anything resembling a Canadian DMCA.

Canadian DMCA logo

Strike One

Yet this year the government tabled their draft Bill C-32.  Clearly a Canadian DMCA. .

The outcry against Bill C-32 was loud. A fake grassroots movement was the only voice raised in support.  In spike of the universal opposition the Government forged ahead.

Canadians Count: Save The Census

The Minister of Heritage made intemperate remarks in his attempts to silence opposition.  Much worse, his attempts to suppress these remarks, captured on video and likely to haunt him to the end of his career, triggered an even LOUDER outcry.

The Government launched yet another consultation, The Digital Economy Consultation.  The premature digEcon launch was most likely intended to take the heat of Heritage Minister.

Strike Two

Problem was, mismanagement of the “idea-forum” voting caused its very own Census Long form Scandal again placing the Government under fire.

Canadian Flag Superimposed on American Flag

Strike Three

Industry Minister Tony Clement’s announced intent to review C-32 provisions, not because of Canadian concerns but because of an American DMCA  review has raised the ire of more than one Canadian.

More even than holding a press conference announcing Bill C-32 in the office of an American game manufacturer, this has exposed the absolute fiction of Mr. Clement’s promise of “Made In Canada” copyright reform.

The blue Twitter bird mascot

In Canada, both our Federal Minister of Industry and our Federal Minister of Heritage

@TonyClement_MP @mpjamesmoore

are more easily reached via the American microblogging service Twitter than by conventional means.

Yet neither have any presence on the Canadian micro-blogging service identi.ca

Industry and Heritage. For which country?

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#digicon

was #copycon futile?

Last year the Canadian Government held a Copyright Consultation to ask Canadians what we thought was important for Canadian copyright law. More than 8,000 Canadians from all across Canada made #copycon submissions. We have yet to see if we were heard, although rumour has it that the legislature will be seeing a new Canadian Copyright bill soon… possibly for June 2010. Many of us have serious concerns about whether it was an exercise in futility or not.

No.

From my perspective, even if the government does not listen and learn from the #copycon, I know I have learned an enormous amount about copyright and how we think from other Canadians who made submissions. From things I’ve read and learned from the #copycon, if I were to make a copyright submission today it would be very different. But that’s another post.

Canadians are talking about copyright, and understanding the forces at play much better. The conversation is far from over, and we need to get a handle on things and come to a consensus about before law is made.

What was said by Canadians in the formal Copyright Consultation submissions has laid the foundation of a valuable resource for all Canadians. A reference primer of “What Canadians Want”.

we don’t want bad law

But the law may be made anyway. Rumours that the government will try to push through a Canadian DMCA (a Bill C61 clone) have many citizens worried. But sometimes that happens, bad laws get passed.

Probably one of the biggest exercises in lawmaking futility was the American 1919 Volstead Act which we know more familiarly as Prohibition. God fearing law abiding solid citizens— people who wouldn’t have so much as dreamt of jay walking before Prohibition— instantly transformed into criminals frequenting speakeasies when the American law outlawing alcoholic beverages went into effect. The roaring twenties came and went before Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Because prohibition favored the goals of a special interest group over society’s mores it just couldn’t work. Aside from fostering near universal flagrant contempt for the law among citizens, a serious byproduct was the support this bad law gave to the growth of organized crime. Before American Prohibition, the mafia was just some petty disorganized criminals. After Prohibition gangsters became rock stars. How many books, articles, movies and even musicals have grown up out of the gangster mystique. Canada’s own gangster wannabes in The Boyd Gang seem to have hatched out of the gangster mythology. Folk heroes even.

Friar Tuck and Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, Robin In The Hood Festival
Hundreds of years later we still idolize Robin Hood

What I know of history has shown that when bad laws are passed the populace initially chafes and suffers. Although the government passing the bad law hopes that people will put up with it, one thing that they never seem to expect is that bad laws provide their opponents with points of commonality.

Often people who are ideologically incapable of co-operating are galvanized into finding a way to work together when a bad law is passed. The bad law itself becomes a visible rallying point, a specific dragon to slay.

One of the most compelling things that any bad law provides to its detractors are the martyrs.

Although I talked about this story as an example of what to expect if the secret A.C.T.A. treaty is passed, it is a real life demonstration of what is happening right now in the US under the existing American DMCA. A young woman went to jail for the crime of recording her sister’s birthday party.

And although history shows that bad laws tend to be overturned in time, I still think it’s better not to have bad laws in the first place.

In the case of copyright, the people who will be most harmed by bad copyright law are the younger generation, many of whom have not attained voting age. As a mother, this special interest group is important to me, because I don’t want to see bad things happen to our best and brightest.

As a student of history I do know that there will very soon be a time when this generation will not only be able to vote but, may well be able to form a government. When I was a teenager we thought running for student council was a big deal. Today Canada’s newest political party has been formed largely by people barely old enough to vote.

Digital Economy Consultation

In the meantime the Canadian government has again asked us for our input.

This time it is for a Digital Economy Consultation. How the Canadian Government reacts to the changes caused by the digital world will have a huge impact on our future. Our economy.

A long time ago Canada had climbed to the forefront of the world of technology with the Avro Arrow. Yet an incredibly short sighted government pulled the plug on that and well and truly killed the project. Naturally it triggered a “brain drain”, as many of Canada’s best and brightest migrated to the United States to work at NASA. Surely we don’t want to go that route again.

Acryllic on Illustration board painting by Aviation Artist Lance Russwurm
Once Canada led the world in technology...

We certainly don’t want to end up in a legislative shambles the way the United Kingdom has. Their ill advised Digital Economy Bill (know to Twitterati as #DEBill) which was rushed through the legislative procedure without proper scrutiny resulted in a hung parliament and the fall of a Prime Minister. Surely Canada doesn’t want to go that route either.

All Canadians should try to participate…

…even if we say what we think and what we want, and they choose not to hear, the ideas will still be out there floating in the ether.

Judging by the quantity and passion of the comments I’ve been reading in online articles to do with weighty issues like UBB and copyright, many of us have thought about this and have a lot of good ideas. This is a good place to put them. And what better time to be heard than when we are lucky enough to have a minority government. At times like this, governments at least try to give the appearance of listening.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but as a mom I can tell you, when you ask your kid to pretend to go to sleep, before long he really is asleep. Maybe if our government starts out by appearing to listen to our submissions they will accidentally find themselves actually listening.

It’s worth a shot.

#digicon

I think that the #digicon will be just as valuable for Canadians as the #copycon was. The process isn’t quite the same as the earlier consultation. As I understand it, off topic comments (such as talking about copyright reform) are likely to be moderated out of the forums.

Read the #digicon Consultation Paper
Participate in the digicon forums – see what other people have to say
DENT about #digicon
tweet about #digicon.
Talk about it on your wall.
Then write your own submission.
**Note: They want a 250 – 500 word summary of the submission as well. I assume to make it easier to sort the piles.

the process

It seems that although the 40 page Submission Guidelines can be downloaded as a PDF, they are also available in clear HTML on the website. Yay! I love that they are asking for submissions in

text-only format or as a document upload (e.g., Word, RTF or WordPerfect formats”

http://de-en.gc.ca/submissions/

Sounds like they’d rather not get stuck in the PDF morass they had for copycon. Deconstructing all the PDF submissions is probably the chief reason why it took so long for all the submissions to be posted online.
(I hate PDFs!)

time limit

As of today, there are 49 days to make a submission. But there’s a lot to think about, so don’t leave it until the last minute (as so many of us did with #copycon)

Things you might say today may help someone else develop a brilliant strategy that would benefit us all. (Hint: that’s why re:mixing is such a good idea)

back-up

I read a comment yesterday from someone who was concerned that the comment or link they’d posted to the #digicon page had been subsequently removed (or moved somewhere else).

If you’re concerned that may happen to your comments or links, or if you’ve something you want to say about the Canadian Digital Economy Consultation that you feel may not survive their moderation, feel free to put it in the #digicon links & comments
My only rules: no spam, no personal attacks/hate mongering.

Similarly, if you have pertinent links you think may help answer questions or examine the issues, feel free to include them. If they start to pile up, when I have a minute I’ll list them under #digicon links in the sidebar.

insurance

Because some Canadians are a bit cynical, we not only submitted our formal #copycon submission to the government, we also posted it on our blogs or websites as (ahem) insurance.

As any emerging artist knows, the wider you can disseminate your art the more people will have the opportunity to become a fan. Or in this case, the more people who can see and read the argument, the more can understand the argument.

to blog or not to blog

If you don’t have one, you can get a free blog from various sources; personally I’d recommend WordPress.
If you don’t want a blog, but want to be heard, I’m willing to post submissions on the Oh! Canada blog as a guest post.

Consultation Questions

Innovation Using Digital Technologies

  • Should Canada focus on increasing innovation in some key sectors or focus on providing the foundation for innovation across the economy?
  • Which conditions best incent and promote adoption of ICT by Canadian business?
  • What would a successful digital strategy look like for your firm or sector? What are the barriers to implementation?
  • Once copyright, anti-spam and data breach/privacy amendments are in place, are their other legislative or policy changes needed to deal with emerging issues?
  • How can Canada use its regulatory and policy regime to promote Canada as a favourable environment for e-commerce?

Digital Infrastructure

  • What speeds and other service characteristics are needed by users (e.g., consumers, businesses, public sector bodies) and how should Canada set goals for next generation networks?
  • What steps must be taken to meet these goals? Are the current regulatory and legislative frameworks conducive to incenting investment and competition? What are the appropriate roles of stakeholders in the public and private sectors?
  • What steps should be taken to ensure there is sufficient radio spectrum available to support advanced infrastructure development?
  • How best can we ensure that rural and remote communities are not left behind in terms of access to advanced networks and what are the priority areas for attention in these regions?

Growing the ICT Industry

  • Do our current investments in R&D effectively lead to innovation, and the creation of new businesses, products and services? Should we promote investments in small start-ups to expand our innovation capacity?
  • What is needed to innovate and grow the size of the ICT industry including the number of large ICT firms headquartered in Canada?
  • What would best position Canada as a destination of choice for venture capital and investments in global research and development mandates?
  • What efforts are needed to address the talent needs in the coming years?

Canada’s Digital Content

  • What does creating Canada’s digital content advantage mean to you?
  • What elements do you want to see in Canada’s marketplace framework for digital media and content?
  • How do you see digital content contributing to Canada’s prosperity?
  • What kinds of infrastructure investments do you foresee making in the future? What kinds of infrastructure will you need in the future to be successful at home and abroad?
  • How can stakeholders encourage investment, particularly early stage investment, in the development of innovative digital media and content?

Building Digital Skills

  • What do you see as the most critical challenges in skills development for a digital economy?
  • What is the best way to address these challenges?
  • What can we do to ensure that labour market entrants have digital skills?
  • What is the best way to ensure the current workforce gets the continuous upskilling required to remain competitive in the digital economy? Are different tactics required for SMEs versus large enterprises?
  • How will the digital economy impact the learning system in Canada? How we teach? How we learn?
  • What strategies could be employed to address the digital divide?

Improving Canada’s Digital Advantage

  • Should we set targets for our made-in-Canada digital strategy? And if so, what should those targets be?
  • What should the timelines be to reach these targets?

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There are a lot of questions. After reading the material, listening and/or participating in the forum discussions, chatting with co-workers around the water cooler or the oil rig, or the kids in your youth group, or with your e-friends on Identi,ca, Twitter or Facebook…

Say what you think.

Our government is asking us for input. Let’s give it to them.

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[Digital Economy Simulpost: Since this will affect all Canadians, I’m posting the same post in all three of my blogs, Oh! Canada, StopUBB, and in the wind]

Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA

Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA
(or DCMA)

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:

Electronic Frontier Foundation logoRT@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.

being heard

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?

American Flag hangs down

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.
[Mixed up links corrected above]

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?

no DMCA Canadian Flag

boingboingboingboing: Canadian Prime Minister promises to enact a Canadian DMCA in six weeks

Michael Geist

Michael Geist: PMO Issues The Order: Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks

p2pnet: It’s official – the United States of Canada

Zero Paid

Zero Paid: Canadian DMCA To Be Tabled Within Weeks

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Millsworks: Canadian DMCA In 6 Weeks

ideas revolution: Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks?

Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights: Dear Canada, your voices don’t really matter. Canadian DMCA in 6 weeks. Regards, Stephen Harper

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 • #9 said:
“…they didn’t listen to the consultation; why would they listen this time?”

— boingboing: Canadian Prime Minister promises to enact a Canadian DMCA in six weeks”

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.

Canadian Flag Superimposed on American Flag

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.
pile of Canadaina newspapers

  • 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.
  • 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:

    Conservative Party of Canada logo

    Prime Minister
    The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    Minister of Industry
    The Hon. Tony Clement, P.C., B.A., LL.B.
    House of Commonscopyright symbol over a red maple leaf
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    Minister of Heritage
    The Hon. James Moore, P.C., B.A.
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    Liberal Leader
    Michael Ignatieff, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    BLOC Leader
    Gilles Duceppe
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6
    [*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]

    NDP Party of Canada

    NDP Leader
    The Hon. Jack Layton, P.C., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    NDP Technology Critic
    Charlie Angus
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6

    Green Party LogoUnelected leader of the Green Party
    Elizabeth May
    http://greenparty.ca/contact
    [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 Canadapirate party of canada
    Jake Daynes
    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.]

    Canadian Flag through tree

    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

  • 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?.

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
Marc Garneau
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Liberal Heritage critic
Pablo Rodriguez
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

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:

“We Don’t Care What You Do, As Long as the U.S. Is Satisfied”