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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ACTA keeps chugging along

President  Felipe Calderón posed in front of a book lined backdrop
"We welcome all views, including criticism, except insults. They will be automaticly blocked. Greetings to the trolls" --President Calderón

Canada’s Heritage Minister James Moore blocks citizens from following the Twitter feed he uses in his capacity as a federal Cabinet Minister.

So far there are 60+ citizens who have been blocked. There are probably a great many more because Twitter users are not notified when they have been blocked.

If there is a possibility you have been blocked, the easiest way to find out is to go directly to @mpjamesmoore‘s Twitter page. If you’ve been following but now the green checkmark is gone, try pushing the “follow” button, If you have been blocked a drop down message will tell you so.

If you discover you have been blocked by the Heritage Minister, you can add your name to the list of Canadians Moore has blocked by following the @no_mpjamesmoore on Twitter. This twitter group was established as a public place for citizens to indicate they’ve been blocked by Mr. Moore.

Open Acta orange Padlock logo www.openacta.org

Extraordinarily this is not a problem unique to Canada. Mexico is having a similar problem with democratic accountability.

Last night on twitter I chatted about democracy with @StopActaNow, the voice of the OpenACTA Group of Mexico.

President Felipe Calderón chooses to block citizen access to his Twitter feed.

Concerned that the rights of petition, access to information and freedom of expression are threatened by this governmental disenfranchisement, Mexican citizens are currently investigating the option of legal action.

The 21st Century has been rough going for Democracy

In the meantime the ACTAsecret Trade Agreement just keeps chugging along.

The August 25th US version of the latest ACTA text was leaked to Knowledge Ecology International, who have published a transcribed PDF version which has also been made available as an HTML version.

ACTA has not been subject to constitutional scrutiny in ANY of the countries participating in the secret trade negotiations. Which is precisely why it is a secret treaty. As I understand it the constraints placed on participation were heavy duty non-disclosure provisions, which is why most elected representatives in most democratic governments of the countries participating are not informed of what is happening.

Laws like the US DMCA, the UK Digital Economy Act and our own misguided Bill C-32 will make it easier for the respective negotiators to sign on the ACTA dotted line. Most citizens still do not know about ACTA.

So tell the people you know. We need to spread the word.

WRITE TO OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES.

Email is invisible and easily ignored. Ask people to send letters. Real letters. Paper letters that take up physical space. They probably won’t listen. They probably won’t actually read your letter, or entertain your ideas. The most compelling argument in the world probably won’t sway them. Our letters will simply remind them to send more propaganda form letters our way.

But enough letters will get their attention.

A minority government means that the majority of elected MPs are NOT part of the ruling party.
We can write letters to THEM, too.


If you’re having trouble deciding what to say and how to say it, the Digital Copyright Canada site offers sample letters and advice as well as information about copyright.

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.

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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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