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Six Days Left: Canadian Net Users Caught As Copyright Consultation Nears Conclusion

[The following post appears simultaneously as a guest post on TorrentFreak today]

Seven weeks ago, the Canadian government launched the first national copyright consultation since 2001.  The consultation, which has featured town hall meetings, by-invitation-only roundtables, an online discussion forum, and an open submission process, has attracted considerable interest with over 4,000 submissions to date.

While the overwhelming majority of those submissions have called for balanced reforms that would strengthen fair dealing, create a liability safe harbour for intermediaries, and link any new anti-circumvention rules to actual copyright infringement, there is reason for concern.

There are only six days left in the consultation and the thousands that have spoken out for fair copyright – the students, teachers, Internet users, software programmers, privacy advocates, librarians, and a growing number of creators – now find themselves under attack from two sides.

On one side stand well-known copyright lobby groups such as the Canadian Recording Industry Association, the Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association, and the Entertainment Software Alliance.  These groups largely represent foreign interests and have consistently called on the Canadian government to adopt the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act as its legislative model.

They invariably claim that Canada should be embarrassed by the current state of copyright law and propose solutions that involve a combination of DMCA-style anti-circumvention rules, a three-strikes and you’re out system that could see users cut off from the Internet, and a rejection of any new flexibilities within fair dealing.

To support those positions, the groups turned out en masse for a public town hall meeting in Toronto late last month, resulting in multiple interventions from record label executives (four from Warner Music alone).  Packing the room ensured that there was virtually nothing heard from education and consumer groups, many of whom could not even attend the town hall since all the tickets were scooped up in less than five days.

Standing on the other side are copyright creator groups such as Access Copyright and the American Federation of Musicians.  Access Copyright opened the consultation by ominously warning its members that “users outnumber us” and claiming that the debate is dominated by people do not believe that authors should get fair compensation for digital and other reproductions of their work (so far five out of 4038 submissions have called for the elimination of copyright).

Meanwhile, the American Federation of Musicians circulated an email to creator groups calling a leaflet distributed by an opposition Member of Parliament “disgusting” since it supported stronger fair dealing.  These groups are pushing for an expanded levy system and have been quick to criticize users that don’t agree or offer up alternatives.

Faced with these vocal lobbying efforts, Canadians have just a few days left to ensure that their voices are heard.  The town halls and roundtables are now over.  The best way to speak out is through the online submission process that takes only a few minutes to complete.  Authors such as Cory Doctorow and David Collier-Brown, technology companies such as Tucows, and groups such as Project Gutenberg Canada and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations have all already done so [the Documentary Organization of Canada has provided advice to its members on how they can participate]

Now is the time for Canadians concerned with copyright to add their voices. Websites such as SpeakOutOnCopyright.ca, CCER.ca, Vancouver Fair Copyright, and Digitalagenda.ca provide tools to learn more about the issues and process submissions.  If you already know what you want to say, simply send an email to info@copyrightconsultation.gc.ca.  Once you have spoken out, tell your friends, send the submission to your local Member of Parliament, and raise awareness that the consultation deadline is Sunday, September 13th.

Many Canadians felt anger and frustration when the government introduced DMCA-style legislation in 2008.  The next six days provide a great opportunity to do more than just complain.  They offer the chance to help influence the next copyright bill.  Don’t wait – speak out on copyright today.

16 Comments

  1. Cameron McMaster says:

    Policy Researcher and Coordinator of the Documentary Organization of Canada
    I would just like to make a quick correction on behalf of the Documentary Organization of Canada(DOC) for this posting.

    We have stated our position on our website in the form of talking points so that our membership can participate on the online forums. Our written submission is being drafted currently and will be submitted in the near future to the consultations website.

  2. C’mon Michael
    I don’t believe you are the evil opposition as some industry and creator groups insist, but then you go and throw ridiculous inflammatory statements out there to create division.

    For example, why does the fact that the tickets for the Toronto town hall were all taken in five days mean that education and consumer groups couldn’t participate. These tickets were available to anyone. If these groups wanted to be there (and some were although you conveniently leave that fact out) they had just as much a chance as ‘the music industry’ – all they had to do was go online and register – or should these groups have some special ‘right’ to be there above anyone else?

    You also left out any mention of the numerous artists (not associations but actual individual artists) who stood at the mic and explained how they live, how they try and put food on their tables and a roof over their head through their art – of how it is necessary to protect their rights to be paid for what they do.

    Try to be a little more ‘fair’ in your ‘reporting’ of events. Otherwise, you’re simply an exact reflection of the industry types you so frequently berate.

  3. copyright mama says:

    Peter, if you want ‘inflammatory’ read the article by Kris Kotarski in the Calgary Herald on the privacy concerns arising from copyright.

    http://bit.ly/WibeM #copycon –

    Not only is it ‘inflammatory’ it’s just naive hooey.

    The simple truth is this: ANYONE who ‘connects’ using an ISP is ‘going public’…

    Any ‘search’ is immediately ‘tabluated/aggregated’ and ‘stored’ for FUTURE reference/referral by ‘cookies’. Google Analytics, as an example, is a ‘for profit’ business. Google monitors ALL traffic using it’s search engine. To think otherwise – by attempting to ‘blame’ everyone else for ‘invading your privacy’ – is just mind-boggling … What’s REALLY happening is that people are starting to REALIZE that this great fat info mothership really isn’t “FREE” after all …

    PRIVACY is a VERY different issue then PIRACY, and to DELIBERATELY ‘meld’ the two arenas is tactical, nothing else.

  4. Darryl Moore says:

    Process favours incumbents
    Peter saiz, “For example, why does the fact that the tickets for the Toronto town hall were all taken in five days mean that education and consumer groups couldn’t participate.”

    Simple Peter. By definition, common citizens are not well organized around a single issue. They have a variety of other things that demand their attention at least as much. Therefore it takes a bit of time for word to spread and for people to find the time to go online and register for these events.

    The copyright lobbyists on the other hand, have a huge interest in these things and were in all likelihood standing at their computers the moment registration opened up.

    Saying everybody had an equal and fair chance to get these seats is disingenuous to say the least. Treating people the same is not the same as treating them equally.

    I fully expect that most of the no shows, were in fact industry employee types who had tickets reserved for them on mass, by fellow coworkers as part of the obvious effort to stack the deck. For their mind, having an empty seat is almost as good as having it filled with one of their own. If their coworkers don’t show, no biggy, they can claim that with the low turn out, they were the only ones who had any interest in coming.

    I think an access to information request, requesting the email domain names of all the participants would be very reveling. Who would like to bet that it isn’t over 50% sonymusic.com umusic.com, and warnermusic.ca

  5. Gary Marcuse says:

    Creating legislation that supports media literacy, a submission filed today
    Here’s a link to a submission uploaded to the consultations today on behalf of a national network of teachers, in support of media education. It argues, strongly and predictably, that Fair Dealing must be a right, not an exception, and digital locks must not trump legitimate uses. An educated, media literate population is essential. Media literacy is now mandated as part of K-12 education across Canada, but there is little training for teachers, and few resources to teach with. All of this could be improved greatly.
    Have a look at our argument at http://www.facetofacemedia.ca/page.php?sectionID=3&pageID=86

    Gary Marcuse Face to Face Media mailto: Marcuse@facetofacemedia.ca
    John Pungente Jesuit Communication Project
    Endorsed by the Canadian Association of Media Education Organizations and its provincial members.

  6. Hmmm…
    I get the feeling, only a very tiny feeling, that this will be all pissed away when there’s a fall election taken place soon. But then again, those “evil assholes” mentioned above to make copyright worse for citizens won’t get their demands taken either. So, I don’t know how this will go down…

  7. Scott Michaud says:

    DRM
    I have two issues with DRM:

    1) It makes it impossible to archive (I don’t mean rip to harddrive but yes that’s useful, I mean Smithsonian) for historical purposes. The root of the problem obviously stems from DRM converting a non-consumable product into a consumable product simply because digital media CAN be programmed to be consumable.
    2) DRM, depending on *what* is being “protected”, can damage/crash/etc. other programs… especially legitimate ones.

    I had issues burning a DVD for my sister, from *my camcorder*, for her Gr. 5 students’ project because SecuROM caused my DVD authoring program to fail — even when my game wasn’t running.

    Even if it’s not intentional — if it gets that far into the OS — it can cause damage and that should NOT be allowed.

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