Elizabeth May on Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act #C11

Copyright "c" with Maple Leaf

Because I’m a writer, copyright is a huge concern for me, so I’ve blogged pretty extensively about the dangerous changes Bill C-11 will make to Canadian copyright law in my personal blog. In today’s world, however, since copyright law’s been extended to blanket pretty much all of our culture, and Bill C-11 will extend its reach into areas of property and technology, it no longer just effects writers or creators, but all of us.

I was quite impressed with Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s valient attempt to challenge Bill C-11. If we had a different sort of electoral system that promoted co-operation instead of opposition, members of the ruling political party might have been able to listen to Ms. May’s words and perhaps even be swayed by them, for the good of the nation.

Although the government couldn’t/wouldn’t listen, what she said is well worth repeating.

Ms.  May wearing a cowboy hat, on the radio

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for the second time to Bill C-11, an act to amend the Copyright Act. The first time I had the occasion to speak to the bill was at second reading, on November 22 last year. I had hoped at that time we would see significant improvements made to the bill through the committee process.

“There have been several tries at amending copyright law. The first attempt to bring copyright law into the digital age was made back in 2005 by the previous Liberal government. Subsequent bills were brought forward, most recently, Bill C-32, which is what we see now, pretty much unchanged, as Bill C-11. In the process between the previous Liberal government’s attempt in 2005 and the bill presented by the current Conservative majority government, we have seen a leaning toward the rights primarily of U.S.-based entertainment industries.

“I am not a member of the parliamentary committees, and I certainly am not making that point to complain. I understand my position here as leader of the Green Party of Canada. The Green Party is a recognized party in the House, but my rights, obligations and opportunities are closely aligned with those I would have had if I had been an independent member, a member of no party at all. Strangely enough, that gives me superior abilities at report stage to bring forward amendments that are substantive, which I could not have brought forward today had I been a member of the committee.

“With that small digression I will just mention that although I am not a member of the committee, I tracked very closely what occurred at committee. Thanks to the able assistance of the wonderful young people who work on my team, and I am very grateful for their help, I was able to carefully monitor the evidence and review the testimony of expert witnesses who came before the committee. It was very compelling testimony from very knowledgeable experts in the field of copyright law in the digital age, which admittedly is a complex field.

“One of those experts who is often cited and has made valiant efforts to see this legislation improved is one of the country’s leading experts, Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa. He has been saying for some time, and I invoked his words when I first spoke to this bill at second reading, that the bill was “flawed but fixable”.

“We had a chance to fix it at committee and we did not. It is my hope that the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage, who I think deserves a lot of credit for the bulk of what he has done on this legislation, will allow Conservative Party members to consider favourably amendments being put forward now so that the bill, when passed, will not just be new copyright legislation, but will be excellent copyright legislation. We have that possibility but we will need amendments to get there.

“The 18 amendments that I am putting forward today fall into two general areas. The Speaker has grouped them as such, and I recognize that, but I propose to speak to both groups at once. The two areas are to improve the clarity around the term “fair dealing”, particularly in relation to the new insertion of educational provisions, and to address the overly onerous provisions to protect material against digital locks. Digital locks are referred to in the law as technological protection measures, TPMs.

“I propose to try to explain these in layman’s language in the next few minutes to make sure they have a fair chance of being accepted by other members of the House who, like me, were not on the committee, but perhaps, unlike me, were not following the evidence as closely.

“Fair dealing” is a very straightforward term, but it does not have the meaning one may think. “Dealing” sounds as though we are making a deal with someone. This is basically copyright law, so we are asking whether the way one uses someone else’s creative work is fair. We have a lot of case law on fair dealing. We cannot define what it is or is not. It is not a question of being able to quote a paragraph or a page and acknowledge who the author was. In certain circumstances we could quote a page, and in other circumstances we cannot quote a paragraph. It depends on what the purpose and intent is and whether the intent infringes the creator’s rights under copyright law.

“In the concept of whether one is using someone else’s creative work fairly, we have changes in the legislation which, for the most part, are quite good. We are now saying one can use someone else’s work if the purpose is for parody or satire. Those words are not creating any problems for us today at report stage.

“However, the government threw in “education, parody or satire”, and the use of the word “education” does create some concern, primarily because “education”, as a term or exception under copyright use under fair dealing, has not been previously defined in the courts. It could lead to significant litigation to expand or narrow the meaning in ways that would be prejudicial to the average person who wants to use the material. Given that those people who might want to change the law in ways that restrict consumer access and normal opportunities to use materials are those with the greatest and the deepest pockets to go to court to prove this, it seems that down the road we might want to improve the way the bill currently reads and to create an opportunity by regulation for the Governor in Council to provide a definition of “education”, which is currently not in the bill, in order to leave that flexibility in place down the road. That is what my Motion No. 3 stands for: that the Governor in Council may make regulations defining “education”.

“This very specific amendment comes from testimony by Giuseppina D’Agostino, a professor in intellectual property at Ogoode Hall Law School. She also teaches at York University. Back in 2010, when this legislation was Bill C-32, the comment that Professor D’Agostino made to explain this amendment was this:

“This would allow for a more evidence-based approach and allow government departments with expertise to helpfully collect evidence and be specific on what they need to cure by legislation, and to be nimble and flexible in making adjustments to copyright problems in the educational sector as they arise from time to time.

“That is all I propose to say on fair dealing. It is a big topic, but I want to move on to the question of digital locks. Most of my amendments relate to this problem.

“Digital locks make sense. The whole scheme of this legislation is about protecting the rights of a creator and balancing the rights of the creator with the rights of the consumer.

“This legislation attempts to bring Canadian law up to speed with the international obligations that Canada has undertaken through what is generally called the WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, copyright treaty.

“The problem I have with Bill C-11 is that it extends well beyond WIPO requirements; in fact, the scheme it would create would be among the most restrictive schemes anywhere in the world. The plain common sense explanation of this is to imagine that an individual has the right to put on a lock on something to protect it if that individual has the right to do so. No one has a right to break the lock if that is the person’s property, and getting through that lock is the same as stealing.

“However, we have exceptions in the bill that say people’s intellectual property can be used for creative purposes, for satire and for parody.

“What if the individual does not have the right to lock it away? Under this legislation, breaking the lock would still be illegal.

“It was explained well by John Lutz of the Canadian Historical Association when he was testifying about previous Bill C-32 before committee. He said that the new law brings copyright legislation last amended in 1997 into the digital age: “Consumers will, for example, be able to make private copies of digital works to carry on different devices like an iPod, a smart phone or a laptop without breaking copyright. There is, however, one important exception, and that is if the vendor does not want you to make a copy. All a vendor has to do is make otherwise legal uses illegal is put a digital lock on it. A digital lock…”, and he goes on to describe it.

“This legislation not only indicates that a digital lock cannot be broken but also indicates that it would be illegal to produce the kind of equipment or technology that would help someone break a digital lock.

“I will not go through each of my amendments one at a time. They essentially speak to the following principle: if in all other circumstances under the bill the use of the material under a digital lock would be legal, an individual should be allowed to break the digital lock. A digital lock should not trump all other rights under the bill when it is fair dealing, when it is otherwise appropriate and someone wants to get access to that material.

“It could be as simple as a mistake I once made in Amsterdam: I bought a movie that I really wanted to watch and when I arrived back in Canada I could not watch it. I still cannot see it.

“I ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to consider these circumstances in which no one has any intention of breaking copyright. They just want to be able to view or access something that they normally would have a legal right to do. Digital locks should not trump all other rights.

“I commend the Minister of Canadian Heritage for his hard work. I ask him to please consider amendments at report stage to improve this legislation.”

Elizabeth May: Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11)

The Conservative Government passed Bill C-11 without accepting amendments from any other party.

Although passed, Canada’s new Copyright Law is not yet in force.


Image Credits

Elizabeth May was photographed by itzafineday and released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License

Byron Sonne and… Copyright?

Byron Sonne’s trial resumed today. Without being there, I can only rely on the reports of others.  I wasn’t going to write anything about this today, but I couldn’t believe the National Post’s attempt to spin the story with a headline:

Accused G20 plotter Byron Sonne had training manual for activists,’ court hears

Free Byron

The word “plotter” does not appear once in the Criminal Code of Canada  so there is little doubt in my mind that the use of such a pejorative word is a clear indication of the newspaper publisher’s bias.

What was most disturbing to me is that the gist of the article seemed to be that Byron “had uploaded a document called Security Culture: A Handbook for Activists. ” Curious, the first thing I did was type the title in a google search.   In seconds Google presented me with “51,900 results.”  So naturally I clicked on the first one and downloaded the linked PDF file.

Security Culture:
a handbook for activists

Your Rights

1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE OR
INVESTIGATORS. You do not have to talk to them on
the street, if you’ve been arrested, or even if you’re in
jail. Do not talk about illegal actions with fellow “in-
mates” in holding as they may be plants.

2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LET CSIS OR THE POLICE
INTO YOUR HOME OR OFFICE UNLESS THEY
HAVE A SEARCH OR ARREST WARRANT. Demand
to see the warrant. It must specificallydescribe the
place to be searched and things to be seized. It must
be authorized by a judge and should bear a signature.

3. IF THE POLICE DO PRESENT A WARRANT, YOU
DO NOT HAVE TO TELL THEM ANYTHING OTHER
THAN YOU NAME, ADDRESS AND BIRTH DATE.
Carefully observe the officers; you’re in your own
home you’re not required to stay in one room. You
should take written notes of what they do, their
names, badge numbers, and what agency they’re
from. Have friends who are present act as witnesses.
It’s risky to let cops roam around alone in your place.

4. IF THE POLICE TRY TO QUESTION YOU OR TRY
TO ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT,
JUST SAY NO. The police are very skilled at getting
information from people, so attempting to outwit them
is very risky. You can never tell how a seemingly
harmless bit of information can hurt you or someone
else.

Security Culture:
a handbook for activists, Third edition – prepared November 2001

Call me crazy, but I read the same sort of thing on Boing Boing not so long ago. And yesterday I found a video produced by The Centre for Police Accountability (C4PA) where Toronto lawyer Davin Charney explains much the same thing.

These are all explanations of our Canadian civil rights — rights that are supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The thing that bothers me most about the National Post article is the implication that this is a dangerous document. That there is something unsavory about citizens knowing what our right are. Now that scares me.

“If we don’t assert our rights there’s really no point in having rights.”

Davin Charney, Know Your Rights: Do you have to show ID to the police?

The other thing I’ve read are today’s trial notes taken by Byron’s friend Christopher Olah. Reading this is far more illuminating than the “professional” reporting in the National Post.

The police evidence is that Byron uploaded a file called “Security Culture: a handbook for activists,” but as it turns out, no one actually downloaded this (or any of the other files?) Byron is said to have uploaded to torrent sites.

Yet it is ridiculously easy to change a digital file name. Any can save a document and call it anything.

Even had this been a dangerous file, if the police didn’t actually download it, the only thing this “evidence” shows is that Byron uploaded digital files with these names. There is no evidence that the files actually contained the named documents — they could as easily contain love poetry for all anyone knows.

Which means that this “evidence” is supposition, not fact. But it gets worse…

Copyright?

copyright symbol over a red maple leaf

Apparently the prosecution offered the explanation that they could not download the document because doing so  would be copyright infringement.

Um.  Where did they get that idea?

I looked very closely at the Security Culture: a handbook for activists PDF document I just downloaded and nowhere is there anything resembling a copyright declaration.  There is no copyright ©.

This “handbook” is clearly a collaborative effort that various people and organizations have worked on over time.  If anyone involved in the creation of the thing  had given any thought to copyright, it would likely have been to give it a creative commons license, or even more probably released it directly into the public domain.  That’s what you do when you want to disseminate something widely.  Copyright prevents sharing.

But really, even if the document was in fact “protected” by copyright, this is one of the lamest excuses I have ever heard.

When the police bust criminals, they must gather evidence.  If they apprehend alleged drug dealers, they collect illegal drugs they find. If the police arrest suspected gun runners, they take possession of the guns.  And these are both examples of breaches of criminal law. But for sections 42 and 43 of the Copyright Act (which deal primarily with commercial copyright infringement), the Copyright Act is still primarily civil law.  There are fair dealing exemptions under Canadian law that allow copying of copyright material.  It is absurd to think that downloading material that may be covered by copyright in the course of evidence gathering is going to be considered infringement, any more than gathering up baggies of cocaine at a crack house are considered criminal “possession.” This is evidence gathering.

Torrents are not Illegal

The other thing that strikes me is the implication that uploading material to torrent sites is illegal. Nothing could be further from the truth.   Bit Torrent is a way of allowing very efficient use of internet bandwidth to share files.   There is all sorts of legal sharing done via torrent sites, from movies (Sita Sings The Blues or Die Beauty), to free software (Ubuntu, Open Office, Firefox) to eBooks (Project Gutenberg and Project Gutenberg Canada) and our very own Pirate Party of Canada, which established its very own “Pirate Tracker” to legally distribute freely licensed independent Canadian music via torrents.


[*note: edited 20 March, 2012 for factual clarification …thanks Russell!]

Infographic: Hypocrisy in Hollywood

infographic

Thanks to Paralegal.net for sharing.

Reference Links

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/09/thomas-edisons-plot-to-destroy-the-movies.ars
http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/class/history/treasury/mh.cinemahistory.html
http://steveblank.com/2012/01/04/why-the-movie-industry-cant-innovate-and-the-result-is-sopa/
http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?cycle=2012&ind=b02
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2011/01/movie-ticket-prices-reach-new-milestone.html
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/movie-ticket-prices-fall-255887
http://www.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57343149-281/sopa-backers-its-needed-to-take-down-the-pirate-bay/
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/enough-already-the-sopa-debate-ignores-how-much-copyright-protection-we-already-have/252742/
http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/07/super-bowl-live-stream-sets-records-too/related/
http://blog.hulu.com/2012/01/12/2011-2012-and-beyond/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/netflix-stock-surges-afte_n_1185808.html
http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy_online_the_law
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/10-most-pirated-movies-all-time-271457#2
http://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-pirated-movies-of-2011-111223/
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/opinion/keep-works-in-the-public-domain-public.html?_r=1
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2400152,00.asp
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-01-10/blu-ray-sales-2011/52473310/1?source=twitter
http://www.digitaltrends.com/international/study-suggests-u-s-box-office-not-affected-by-bittorrent/
http://www.bgr.com/2012/02/09/megaupload-shutdown-did-nothing-to-slow-piracy-study-finds/

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

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.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

#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?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves


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.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

[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

Forums » O Canada! » Canadian » Canadian Broadband
» PMO Issues The Order: Canadian DMCA Within Six Weeks!!


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”