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Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright Speaks Out Against Canadian DMCA

When Industry Minister Jim Prentice tries to justify a Canadian DMCA, he frequently claims that the business community is demanding these reforms.  Those claims have now been completely undermined. Sources report that this afternoon, a powerhouse group of companies and business associations in Canada spoke up for fair and balanced copyright.  The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright includes a who's who of the telecom, Internet, retail, and broadcast communities.  Signatories include the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), Canadian Association of Internet Providers, a division of CATAlliance (CAIP), Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA), Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association (CWTA), Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), Retail Council of Canada (RCC), Google, Third Brigade, Tucows, Yahoo! Canada, Cogeco Cable, EastLink, MTS Allstream, Rogers Communications Inc., SaskTel, and Telus.  Yes – you just read right – Google, Yahoo!, Rogers, Telus, Cogeco, and dozens of other companies are speaking out as the largest cable companies, largest retailers, largest broadcasters, largest Internet companies, and most of the major telcos have all joined forces to oppose a Canadian DMCA.

What does this new coalition stand for?  An excerpt from the proposed package includes [UPDATE: The position paper is available here ]:

1.   Expanded Fair Dealing – "if Canada is to truly modernize its copyright legislation, then the time has come for Canada to broaden the existing fair dealing rights in the Act by adopting a more flexible approach that is illustrative rather than exhaustive."

2.   TPMs – "rules against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by rights owners in connection with the exercise of their rights must not prohibit Canadians from engaging in non-infringing activities."

3.   Making Available – "to the extent necessary to meet its WIPO obligations, Canada should introduce only a very narrow exclusive right of making available for those rights owners who need it to protect the legitimate online distribution of their works."

4.   Private Copying – "the government should seriously question the continued existence of the private copying regime."

5.   Avoid Copyright Liability for Technical Processes – "the Act should be amended to grant broadcasters a full and meaningful exception from the reproduction right, similar to that which exists in most other developed countries."

6.   ISP Liability – "as all of Canada's major trading partners have long recognized, Internet service providers should face no copyright liability when acting as intermediaries."

7.   Rational and Effective Enforcement – "while those who infringe copyright on a commercial scale or to the material prejudice of rights holders should be subject to appropriate penalties, courts should have more flexibility to limit damages in circumstances where there is only minimal harm to rights holders resulting from the conduct."

It is difficult to overstate the importance of this new coalition and its support for fair copyright principles.  With such an impressive list of backers, the Industry Minister must now surely recognize that his proposed bill is opposed by the very industries that he has promised to support.  In the past, I've described a Canadian DMCA as anti-education and anti-consumer – it is now unquestionably anti-business as well.

Update: Google has posted on the coalition on the Google Policy Blog.  The CBC has detailed coverage here.

27 Comments

  1. Then who is left out there in favour of a Canadian DMCA? American lobbies, CRIA, 100,000 fundamentalists, John and …. anybody else?

  2. Good list
    I never thought that any of those companies would ever do anything good for me. It looks like I could be wrong.

    Their proposed list looks good too: “7…limit damages in circumstances where there is only minimal harm to rights holders resulting from the conduct.” I guess that means that I might still get away with humming “Happy Birthday” all day, even if people tell me to shutup.

  3. Re: Good List
    Number 7 may also limit the damages in the case of a work still under copyright, where the rights holder is no longer selling it. For instance, books and albums that are out of print. Arguably, online sharing in this case is in some ways a good thing for the rights holder, since it will expose the artist to a wider audience, and when enough demand picks up, the work can be reprinted.

  4. “largest cable companies, largest retailers, largest broadcasters, largest Internet companies, and most of the major telcos” – if you look at their track record in front of the Canadian Copyright Board these people are all basically opposed to Copyright (often arguing for zero tariffs) so no big surprise there

  5. American instrests stay out!
    Wow, so we have all these Canadian companies trying to tell the Canadian Government what to do with their laws. Yet how much do you want to be the American interests will just bribe..err I mean lobby the government with lots of money so they can see the proper way to make a law. This is Canada, American laws do not apply here, American policy does not apply here. Canadian laws for Canadians, by Canadians. No Hollywood/RIAA accounting in Canada.

  6. ISPs don\’t want to the added expense of filtering solutions, resources to handle takedown requests or customer disputes. This is about ISPs reducing cost of business, they\’re not looking out for you it just turned out that way this time.

  7. I’m simply amazed and very happy at this development.

    Suck…on…that…[Prentice | CRIA | US Corporate Overlords]

    I seriously wanna hear Mr Prentice claim industry approval again. You think he could be held in contempt of parliament? ;)

  8. Where’s the document? Obviously Michael has seen it as he has posted some quotes. I’d like to see the context of those quotes and what else is in it which may colour what’s been quoted somewhat differently. Links????

  9. These are all companies that has a financial interest in weaker copyright laws. Nothing new there.

  10. I think the ISP’s are in it for themselves. If Canada reforms to the way the states do, the ISP’s will be file sharing police, and this appears to be a pre-emptive step to avoid that. Either way, great news for Canucks!

  11. Adrian Thurston says:

    Fantastic!
    My favourite point is number 2. The worst part about the DMCA is that it has implications way outside of its boundaries. That’s a mistake we can’t repeat here.

  12. “ISPs don\’t want to the added expense of filtering solutions, resources to handle takedown requests or customer disputes. This is about ISPs reducing cost of business, they\’re not looking out for you it just turned out that way this time.”

    Isn’t that painfully obvious? You only now discovered that?

    The whole point is that there are many parties involved in Canadian copyright laws. It has a wide area of effect. These companies, just like yourself, have a position regarding the direction of the new law.

    The new law can’t only address consumer needs, only Canadian corporation needs and ISP’s unqiue needs, nor American lobbyists.

    The point of the law should be to make everyone want to be part of the whole in the future. The more fair the law is to everyone, the more purchasing will be done.

    Why shouldn’t they have a say, and why should their say mean less because they are out for their own interests? Why should American lobbyist interests be the only interests to be considered?

  13. Microsoft wants DMCA
    Microsoft and hollywood want the DMCA enabled in Canada-badly, and they have tons of money, so NEVER THINK THEY WILL NOT KEEP TRYING. It is like European Software Patents-thankfully, they are not enforcible but the US corporations continue the fight anyway. Expect hollywood to tell the government to do anything and everything they can, using any excuse.

    Vigilance against this \”export\” must be as strong as the effort to try to pass it from US lobbyists.

  14. 1-s^2=p1*(1-r1^2)/(1+r1^2)
    2*s*r5/(1+r5^2)=2*p1*r1/(1+r1^2)
    1-s^2=p2*(1-r2^2)/(1+r2^2)
    2*s*(1-r5^2)/(1+r5^2)=2*p2*r2/(1+r2^2)
    2*s*r5/(1+r5^2)=2*(s^2+1)*r3/(1+r3^2)
    2*s*(1-r5^2)/(1+r5^2)=2*(s^2+1)*r4/(1+r4^2)
    p1^2+p2^2=2+2*s^4

    { {{{r4 = s}}},{{{r5 = 0}}},{{{r1 = 0}}},{{{s = s}}},{{{p1 = 1-s^2}}},{{{r2 = -1/s}}},{{{p2 = -s^2-1}}},{{{r3 = 0}}} }
    { {{{r5 = 0}}},{{{r4 = 1/s}}},{{{r1 = 0}}},{{{s = s}}},{{{r2 = s}}},{{{p2 = s^2+1}}},{{{p1 = 1-s^2}}},{{{r3 = 0}}} }
    { {{{r5 = 0}}},{{{r4 = 1/s}}},{{{r1 = 0}}},{{{s = s}}},{{{p1 = 1-s^2}}},{{{r2 = -1/s}}},{{{p2 = -s^2-1}}},{{{r3 = 0}}} }
    { {{{s = 0}}},{{{r4 = 0}}},{{{r5 = r5}}},{{{r1 = 0}}},{{{p2 = 1}}},{{{p1 = 1}}},{{{r3 = 0}}},{{{r2 = 0}}} }

    I think copyright reform might be a good idea for Canada… but *NOT* anything like the DMCA, which makes things illegal that have absolutely nothing to do with genuinely infringing on copyright.

    I mean, for crying out loud, taken to its logical extreme, simply remembering the movie that you saw last weekend and describing it to a friend who hasn’t seen it yet could be copyright infringement! (you are subverting the “protection” that requires that you pay money at a theatre to find out what happens in the movie).

    Personally, I think that Canadian copyright could do with something like the following major changes. Some of the ideas may need some tweaking to make them balanced, but I think the following general ideas would work:

    1) Copyright durations should reflect the fact that some forms of copyrighted expression, such as computer software most notably, are much more transient than others, and so should have a much shorter copyright length applicable to them. There should be absolutely no provision for extending the duration of copyright protection of a particular work beyond the length of time designated for that form of copyrighted work. After the copyright expires, it becomes public domain, and unlimited copying by anyone from then on is allowed. No particular person or organization, including the copyright holder or his or her publishers, should in any way be held responsible for or be obligated to continue to provide access to content whose copyright has expired. That should be at at the sole discretion of any person or organization that may choose to provide such access.

    2) Private copying of ANY copyrighted content, not just music, should be explicitly and completely exempt from copyright infringement. Any person or organization that makes a private copy becomes responsible for ensuring that the copy they made remains private for that copy’s lifetime. Such private copies of course may not be willfully sold, rented, shared, given away, or in any other way transmitted, distributed, or disseminated to anyone else, except to the extent that such transferral may be necessary for the person or organization that was responsible for the copy (and *only* that person or organization) to use the copyrighted work in a manner applicable to the particular form of work. Illegal activities performed by other parties to acquire possession of or copies of what would would otherwise have been a private use copy should not constitute any willful act of distribution on the part of the person or organization who made the copy to the extent that the person or organization making such private use copies does not condone the activities and makes all reasonable effort to prohibit them in the future (including initiating legal action against the violator, if the offender can be provably identified) if or when such activities are discovered.

    3) Any deliberate public showing or performance of copyrighted content which has not been licensed for such showing is infringement by the party providing the performance. A person playing a stereo loudly enough that neighbors can hear may be violating noise bylaws, for example, but shouldn’t be guilty of copyright infringement. Private performances are not considered infringement. A private performance would be one that is only designated for particular named persons.

    4) Any form of transmission of content from one location to another, other than physically transporting the media on which the content resides, should always and *explicitly* be considered copying of that content by both the transmitter and receiver (regardless of who initiated the transmission). The transmitter should be the actual end party doing the transmitting, and should not ever refer to any communication provider that is merely acting as a conduit for the transmission unless they are also the end party providing the content. Such copying may or may not be copyright infringement for one or both parties, depending on factors such as whether the transmitter was authorized to transmit the content, whether the person or organization transmitting or receiving was even aware the transmission was occurring, and whether the receiver is not otherwise violating copyright law with their copy.

    5) Publishers should be free to place whatever copy protections on their works they desire. But it should not be illegal for a person to bypass or remove such protections *ONLY AS LONG AS* their usage is otherwise consistent with copyright law.

    6) The mere providing of access to materials or resources which allow people to make copies of copyrighted content should not be considered copyright infringement or the condoning of such infringement. This should be true even if one also simultaneously provides access to legitimately publicly distributable copies of copyrighted works. A person or organization that uses such materials or resources to make any copies of copyrighted works takes on all responsibility for ensuring that such copies are kept in accordance with copyright law.

  15. Hmm… not sure how that weird text got in there at the top… musta gotten accidentally pasted while I was editing. Ignore it. :(

  16. “Hmm… not sure how that weird text got in there”.

    I don’t know, but that looks an awful lot like … DMCA Copyright violation! Pirates talk just like that! :)

  17. There is a good writeup about the DMCA by William Patry (Senior Copyright Counsel for Google Inc. and previously copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives) at:

    [ link ]

    It pertains to this thread as well as the other one(s) Dr. Geist put up recently. I found that writeup while reading

    [ link ]

  18. >>”ISPs don’t want to the added expense of filtering solutions, resources to handle takedown requests or customer disputes. This is about ISPs reducing cost of business, they’re not looking out for you it just turned out that way this time.”

    >”Isn’t that painfully obvious? You only now discovered that?”

    Gosh no, just pointing out that this isn’t a “oh our customers are against this therefore we are” type thing (which some appear to believe) but a business decision. If tomorrow RIAA/MPAA/WTF decides to offer ISPs oodles of money and incentives to flip the decision they will.

  19. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    That oodles of money mentioned above would have to be in the form of recurring payments of billions of dollars to cover the costs of:

    - Installing, maintaining, and upgrading filtering hardware and software.
    - Losses due to cancelled Internet accounts, due to the reduced functionality of the Internet.
    - Insurance premiums, which would then need to cover liability for all users, as failure to properly filter content would make an ISP a party to a criminal offence.
    - Losses due to the extra customer service complaints.

    It makes as much sense to place the burden of ensuring that bombs are not mailed upon Canada Post rather than placing that burdon upon the citizen mailing the package as it does to force ISPs to waste resources policing the Internet [which would only act to slow down the Internet]. If we wish to have privacy, we cannot open every package to check for bombs – and how do we know that the act of testing for a bomb won’t set it off on the poor bastard who’s checking the package? Hardly seems fair to everyone involved, right down to the tax payers who’d have to pay for a new sortation plant. It almost seems better to deliver the package and have the parties involve settle the issue in court – they both knew the laws before acting after all.

  20. Pirates will one step ahead of any filtering technology, ISP’s would be just throwing millions down the toilet.

  21. filter farce
    Historically, attempts to block something on the net has had the opposite effect. Denmark’s biggest ISP, Tele2, recently got an injunction to start filtering ThePirateBay and the P2P activity didn’t change one bit. In fact the number of Danes just accessing the site went up by 12%. ISPs know this. Probably Tele2 doesn’t care. They did their bit and some politicians are happy.

  22. JDEGAN
    Fair Dealing: No mention of a TEACH Act equivalent for Canadian educators. This is a must.

  23. >> “Then who is left out there in favour of a Canadian DMCA? American lobbies, CRIA”

    That’s redundant: CRIA *is* an American lobby group.

    This news is where the story turns from concerning to funny. It’s so abundantly clear that ALL OF CANADA is looking for the same sort of reasonable reforms; all we need it a Minister of Industry who’s willing to listen to the needs of Canadians instead of the whining of the US ambassador.

  24. Harrisburg Advertising says:

    Harrisburg Advertising Agency
    Making Available – “to the extent necessary to meet its WIPO obligations, Canada should introduce only a very narrow exclusive right Harrisburg Advertising Agency
    of making available for those rights owners who need it to protect the legitimate online distribution of their works.”

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