Our government is in the midst of making a law called Bill C-11, the “Copyright Modernization Act”, which will have serious consequences to all of us. But I’m wondering: how many of us actually understand what it is all about?
But I’m wondering if most Canadians are tired of hearing about copyright law it, or because they have no idea what it’s really about. This matters because the changes to Canada’s copyright law will effect the lives of every Canadian, not just those involved in the copyright industry.
You may recall reading how much I hate polls. But the polls I hate are those used as marketing rather than for information gathering. I want to gather information for that last few posts I will be writing before the government passes Bill C-11. And a poll seems the best way to proceed. I’m putting polls anywhere I can to find out if my assumption that most Canadians have been left out of the loop is correct. So I hope you’ll help me out here by answer my three little questions. And by the weekend I’ll write an article incorporating the results.
I think that this film is brilliant in its simplicity; it explains exactly what is wrong with what Annie Leonard calls the Electronics industry’s “Designed for the Dump” strategy.
They try to make this sound palatable by calling it “planned obsolescence”.
Deliberately manufacturing short lived physical materiel is not environmentally sustainable.
Bill C-32 legislates stuff to the Dump
Bill C-32, the so-called “Copyright Modernization Act,” has finished Second Reading and is in committee.
In spite of near universal opposition to this legislation which continues many bad elements first seen in its predecessors, Bill C-60 and C-61, the draft Bill C-32 ignores the majority of citizen input provided through the 2009 Copyright Consultation.
But as bad as the American DMCA is, Bill C-32, the Canadian version will be much worse.
The DMCA does not make any aspect of their Fair Use regime subservient to technical measures, making the DMCA closer to the intent of the 1996 WIPO treaties to tie TPMs to infringing activities than C-32.
Q: How does “The Story of Electronics” tie in to the draft Canadian Bill C-32?
A: Making repair and recycling illegal will legislate Electronics to the Dump
By making circumvention of digital locks illegal for any purpose, electronics and media that still work, or that could be made to work, will now be legally consigned to the dump. Format shifting, recycling and repair of electronics with digital locks will be illegal.
Digital Locks prevent format shifting.
Unlike videotape, DVDs will play in any DVD player. At least until manufacturers add region encoding (digital locks/DRM/TPM). When a Florida company shipped me a European DVD instead of the region 1 DVD that I would have been able to play on a Canadian DVD player, for me the DVD was garbage. I couldn’t play it the first time.
The company was aware that it was an error and shipped me a new copy of the DVD that was Region 1, so I wasn’t out of pocket. (They did not want the DVD back.) But the environment was.
When people move geographical locations if they move to a different “DVD region,” suddenly all their old technology and media can no longer be used because of digital locks. The ONLY reason that this is so is because of the digital locks applied by the manufacturer. Their idea is, as always, to sell more stuff. Wringing extra money from the consumer.
Consumers want to format shift, again for personal use, so that they can access their legally purchased content on their different devices.
When media and the devices we play it on become obsolete they proliferate in our dumps.
Digital Locks prevent us from repairing problems caused by DRM/TPM
Nobody seems to talk about the fact that the addition of digital locks/DRM/TPM quite often makes our media and devices not work. Ever had trouble playing your home burned home movie DVD in your DVD player. Or your grandmother’s DVD player? How about burning home movie DVDs at all.
Chances are that your digital stuff doesn’t work/is broken BECAUSE of digital locks. DRM. TPM,
If Bill C-32 passes as is, it will be illegal to fix it.
I foolishly bought an HP bubble printer without realizing the ink cartridges have DRM. It doesn’t matter how much ink is actually left in the cartridge, my cartridges are empty when the digital locks say they are. Which means, among other things, that I can’t save money and the environment by refilling them.
But I expect that refilling printer toner cartridges that have TPM will be illegal under Bill C-32 too.
No one is talking about this. Are they copyright issues? They should not be. But it once circumventing digital locks becomes illegal across the board I would expect they would be covered by Bill C-32.
Then there are all the OTHER uses of digital technology. Digital elements exist in refrigerators and cars, not just music and movies. If there aren’t TPMs on these things now, there will be once Bill C-32 becomes law. Because if circumventing digital locks is illegal, manufacturers would be foolish not to put digital locks on anything they can.
Which would be an even worse environmental catastrophe. Governments should not be legislating anti-interoperability. For the good of the environment.
Canada’s technology will not just be
“Designed For The Dump”
“Legislated To The Dump”
by Bill C-32
[[Note to Malcolm Gladwell: yes Malcolm, there are online activists, and you know what? They do good work!]
The very title of this opinion piece is both inflammatory and misleading. Although Mr. Ricci mayt be qualified to comment on the state of culture, the article is actually exclusively devoted to one small piece of Bill C-32, the expansion of the fair dealing section of Bill C-32 to include educational uses.
Although Mr. Ricci implies it’s the equivalent of making educational material free of charge it’s not. Canada’s Minister of Industry is well aware of this, tweeting:
But even more important, although some students coming out of higher education may retain their textbooks rather then selling them on, educational text books have never formed the basis for societal culture in any universe I’ve ever heard of.
What Mr. Ricci calls this “vulnerable cultural sector,” has been working hard to impoverish our children’s education for years. Educational publishers have routinely charged vast amounts of mark-up on text books for decades and the lion’s share of this has certainly not gone to the writers.
The excessive prices demanded is a great part of why so many textbooks in all levels of Canada’s public education system are so terribly out dated. In some areas of study it may not be an issue, but in others it does an incredible disservice to our children. My child’s high school computer programming text was older than he was… and written in a time of pre-Internet history before most of today’s technology existed.
The justification for the exorbitant cost of textbooks was always that such small print runs were required. Even so, the publishers made out, the copyright collectives made out, but, sadly, the writers are the only ones who were actually unable to make a living from the books they wrote. Of course, some writers could get paid employment by going to work for the copyright collectives or publishers.
But at least with textbook purchases, our children may at some point get some value from re-reading the material in later years, or perhaps selling the used copies to later students. The absurdity of paying absurd amounts of money for photocopies has always struck me as foolish. These aren’t books with an intrinsic value, they’re disposable.
If students were buying entire textbooks for a single chapter, why didn’t publishers offer them as individual chapter offerings? Slim text volumes at a fraction of the price? But no, the necessary chapters were overpriced to subsidize the unnecessary chapters. The “innovation” that was arrived at in the latter part of the twentieth century were contractual deals whereby publishers and copyright collectives received compensatory payment for photocopies from libraries and educational institutions. These copies made with student labor on educational institution equipment triggered compensation for the textbooks that were not sold.
But then I think the “Public Lending Right” is horribly unfair too. Books people read in libraries aren’t lost sales, they’re advertising. It used to be that writers were happy to have their works disseminated in public libraries. It was the authorial equivalent of air play for recording artists. But even charging libraries quantities of extra cash per book has not improved the standard of living for authors either. Funny, that.
My purely anecdotal take on today’s public library systems is that there are fewer books in them. Part of it is that physically they are removing shelves of physical books in favor of public work stations and digital media. But I’m wondering how much of that is due to money being paid out for the “Public Lending Right” rather than spent on the purchase of actual books to lend.
Perhaps because my public library can’t afford to stock it, I’ve never read any of Mr. Ricci’s award winning fiction. Like any careful consumer during a recession, I never buy books I’ve not already read, and then not unless I think it’s a good book. The only time I’ll buy a book by an author I’ve not read, is if it looks interesting and costs only a buck or two in a remainder bin.
technology has reduced costs of physical production of books
As writer involved in self publishing my first novel, I recently discovered that it is more economical to purchase Print On Demand (POD) bound proof copies with glossy colour covers for my beta readers than to print them myself at home on my laser printer. Things have indeed changed.
And in today’s digital world, there is no reason why text books can’t be tailor made to the class. It can be easily be accomplished in these days when digital copying has brought the distribution costs down to almost nothing, as shown in another Globe and Mail article: Toronto startup cracks the electronic textbook
Our children and their education have traditionally been the big losers here. Neither publishers or copyright collectives seem to have student interests at heart. They’re in it for the money.
Personally, as both parent and writer, I have some very serious reservations about Bill C-32 but expansion of fair dealing for education is not one of them. It saddens me to see creators who are not well versed in either the legal or technical aspects of copyright law being set up as straw men. I guess what I wonder most is why a fiction writer is weighing in on this aspect of Bill C-32 rather than a writer of textbooks.
More a more informed opinion of the fair dealing aspect of Bill C-32, read what David Fewer has to say.
But the real post script comes from Mr. Ricci himself in his response to the comments his article garnered:
What the response amply demonstrates, however, both in its range and in its vehemence, is that there is a need for much more public debate on this very complex issue before Bill C-32 is allowed to pass into law.”
He is right about that. Canada may be ready for a new copyright law, but a bad one rushed through in haste would be infinitely worse than what we have now. This is an issue that will impact on all Canadians. We certainly don’t want a Canadian DMCA.
Although all three opposition parties have criticized aspects of the bill, they are expected to pass it in principle so that it can move to the legislative committee that would discuss amendments. At this stage, however, amendments could only address existing language; new issues could not be added.”
The most incredible thing is that NOBODY supports Bill C-32. Passing legislation “in principle” that is strongly opposed in all quarters seems foolish indeed.
Bill C-32 will NOT “update” Canada’s copyright law, it will actually work to regress it, by legislating control of the recording, movie and publishing industries back into total domination by corporations.
The “creative community” is not best served by any copyright collectives and unions that advocate legislation which returns artists to the indentured servitude of the last century.
“1¢ per download → Artist 68¢ per download → Record Company
“Is it any wonder musicians are choosing to go Independent? ”
The Internet makes it possible for artists to distribute their own creative works without having to sign away their souls (and copyright) to distributors (aka record companies) who continue to exploit them unfairly.
The copying levy actually works against the truly Independent recording artists (who comprised 30% of the Canadian Recording Industry at last count) who do not in fact share in the proceeds, but rather have to pay the levy themselves on the CDs they sell containing their own original material.
Last year the Canadian Government hosted a Canadian Copyright Consultation which resulted in an unprecedented amount of response from Canadians. The overwhelming majority of this direct citizen input emphatically opposed any kind of “Canadian DMCA.” Yet Bill C-32 completely ignored what Canadians want, instead this so-called “Copyright Modernization Act,” enshrines “digital locks” against the best interests of both citizens and creators.
In a democracy, laws should be made to reflect society’s mores, not dictate them.
Our Minister of Heritage James Moore presented himself as tech savvy with a twitter account and an iPod.
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.
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.
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.
Reading the response Russell McOrmond received from MP James Moore I am appalled. Canada’s current Heritage Minister, James Moore, has represented himself as a technologically astute legislator. This is important because the Heritage Ministry holds sway over both the CRTC and matters of copyright and the Internet. Unfortunately, no one has explained to him that the ability to “tweet” on Twitter is not the same thing as possessing technical expertise.
Dubbed “the Ipod Minister,” Moore was one of the ‘forces’ behind last year’s Copyright Consultation and this year’s Digital Economy Consultation. Still, Minister Moore’s technical savvy seems limited to purchasing and promoting Apple products; this letter incident highlights Moore’s woeful lack of technical expertise, which ought to make him a poor choice to occupy a position of power over Canada’s digital economy or copyright reform.
Canadians deserve to have legislators who at least understand the issues.
But there is a wider concern. Every time we have an election the main stream media takes the populace to task for lack of participation. Only a fraction of eligible voters turn out for any given election at any level of government. Yet no one ever seems to mention the many ways Canadians are disenfranchised before we even consider going to the polling station.
writing letters to our Government
Most of us put real effort into the letters we write to our MPs. Many federal issues go beyond the scope of our individual MP, and depending on the issue it may be necessary to correspond with all the members on a committee, or the Minister in charge of the issue or even the Prime Minister. Sometimes it might even be best to send a message to every Member of Parliament.
To facilitate this constituent—-representative contact Canada Post delivers mail from citizens for any or all of the above mentioned correspondence to our representatives in Ottawa free of charge. Naturally Canada Post employees don’t perform this service out of the goodness of their hearts, this democratic service is paid for by the government. Presumably because they want to hear from their constituents. So they can serve us better.
I understand why we need to write letters to our representatives in government. If we don’t tell them our views about about issues important to us, our concerns will not be considered, and laws may well be passed that are contrary to our interests. Laws contrary to the public good.
So why don’t the responses we get back from our elected representatives actually answer any of our concerns or questions?
I’ve sent a few in the past year or so, and the responses take a very very long time in coming. Do they think that if they take months to reply we will have forgotten what we wrote? I guess they don’t realize most of us keep copies of the letters we send. At a time when most of our letters are written on computers and copying is easy.
Yet the supposed “response” they give us doesn’t indicate anyone has actually read anything we’ve written beyond our name and address. Invariably a form letter, the responses they send seem more like press releases. Many people seem to accept this as the way our government conducts its business.
But I don’t.
Before I was even old enough to vote I wrote a couple letters to my representative at the time, Conservative MP Perrin Beatty. I got a written response to one letter and a personal phone call from the man himself for the other. That is the way it is supposed to work.
This year, when I wrote a letter to my current (Conservative) MP to protest the government’s premature prorogation, the envelope I received was addressed to me but the letter inside was not. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
When we send our elected representatives to Ottawa they get access to administrative staff paid for out of the public coffers. People to deal with scheduling, email, letters from constituents. Every letter we send to anyone in out parliament should be read and answered properly.
Perhaps they think sending a response like this gives the appearance of responding.
who pays for this?
As a citizen, it makes me angry that we taxpayers foot the bill for these unresponsive “responses”.
Every response that isn’t a real response is a waste of money.
But the much higher price we pay is in the certain knowledge that our elected representatives can’t be bothered to listen to us let alone reply.
This is a clear message to Canadians that our voices as citizens are not merely not being heard, they are being ignored. It is certainly a disincentive to citizen participation in the democratic process. And I think this is very possibly one of the most blatant causes of the legendary Canadian “voter apathy”. Why bother: they don’t listen. The first step in disenfranchising citizens.
This is not acceptable in a democratic nation.
Canada’s ‘public servants” may be able to say the word “democracy” but some of them don’t seem to understand what it means.
[I’m breaking some of my digEcon issues down into a three part series across my blogs. The first part is published in the wind where I usually look at copyright issues as a content consumer and a writer. This second part here in Oh! Canada and the final part in StopUBB. When all three are complete I’ll add link arrows.]
One thing we all seem to love about the Internet is the opportunities we have to “Like” things. A simple mouse click bestows or withdraws our approval on comments or news stories on the Internet. It gives us the power to be heard.
Voting in the Digital Economy Consultation
The Canadian Government recognized our liking for “Liking” and gave us the means to do so on the Digital Economy Consultation website. The top three ideas appeared on the home page, right under Industry Minister Tony Clement’s video opening. Every time I logged in to the DigEcon site the same three ideas were on the front page. If you wanted to participate in the consultation you had to be registered and logged in to vote for an idea.
I’m not entirely sure how these ideas got there although I think they originated in the online discussion forums.
digEcon Voting Scandal?
One idea did really well, one which sought to Reinstate our Census Long Form aka Questionnaire 2B based on the understanding that in a digital world information is vitally important, especially for Government’s long term digital economy planning. A great many visitors to the digEcon site agreed with this idea and it quickly rose through the ranks.
Apparently the Government didn’t like this.
So the Government relocated it.
‘Reinstate our Census Long Form’ was pulled and tucked in an out of the way corner. Even after being pulled, at the end of the day it still held second place, having received +389 votes.
The Census idea was removed July 9th, a day after Compete/Compute arrived onsite.
The Census idea was unfairly treated, but in all fairness you could still vote for it– if you could find it.
The Government claims the subject matter was outside the guideline, which clearly was not the case. Even if it had been true, it should have been taken down much sooner. It sat on the front page for a very long time to get that many votes.
The sad thing is that it has been well proven that this type of “voting” system can be easily “gamed”. The fact that it was done so heavy handedly is bad. I have to wonder about the appropriateness of Compute Canada’s vote getting campaign. Clearly the only concern is getting votes. I would hope that the Canadian government isn’t planning policy based on such flimsy data.
From the Compute Canada Website:
Does Canada really want our future decided on the basis of an advertising campaign?
As amazing and important as supercomputers may be, in the real world there are very few Canadian Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) that would actually need supercomputer access. Certainly there are a few specialized cases where it would be ideal, but I suspect that most SMEs don’t use the PCs and equipment that they have now to the fullest. Everything changes so quickly, just keeping up is both cost and labor intensive. It would be a lot of fun to play around with a Supercomputer, but as a writer all I actually need to write novels is my ancient laptop.
digEcon Canadian Content Scandal?
I didn’t have time to be active in the forums, but something about the Digital Economy Consultation website disturbed me a little at the time. The more I’ve thought about it the more irritated I’ve become.
And of course there were problems with the Twitter partnership, most likely because of Twitter’s extremely proprietary nature. Although it is the kind of thing that frequently happens with proprietary software and digital locks…
So often ordinary users aren’t aware that the technical difficulties they are experiencing are DRM side effects.
What bothered me is that the Government of Canada has chosen to include both Twitter and FaceBook here on an official Canadian Government website. This is effectively an advertisement and a government endorsement of these two American corporations.
I am well aware that Canadians use these services, as I myself do.
That’s not my problem. I am wondering where the Canadian Content was. Hmmmmm… isn’t that one of the things that our current Heritage Minister James Moore is in charge of watching over?
In particular, I’m wondering why the Canadian Government chose not to give equal time to Identi.ca?
Like a lot of people, I have Identi.ca and Twitter connected for the best of both worlds.
Identi.ca runs on open source Status.Net software. Which isn’t at all surprising since both are part of the same Canadian company from Montréal. People and corporations all over the world are creating their own Status.Net sites. A corporation can easily run Status.Net software on their own LAN. It can be contained as an internal system or interconnect with other systems (without FaceBook type privacy issues) because it isn’t proprietary software. I know individuals who run their own Status.net domain they then connect to Identi.ca
I am not saying we can’t use American services like Twitter or Facebook. I’m writing this blog post on a blog on the American WordPress site.
But Status.Net is a Canadian digital economy success story.
I would have thought it elementary that the prime directive of the Canadian Government’s Digital Economy strategy would be
promotion of the Canadian businesses who are out there building Canada’s Digital Economy.
At the very least I would expected our Government to give equal time to Canadian Digital Enterprises.