There was considerable attention yesterday on a media report stating that Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore warned against "radical extremists" opposing C-32. A video of part of his remarks has now been posted online [full video here]. The comments, which come after the prepared speech, feature a no-holds-barred attack against those arguing for fair copyright. According to Moore, some proposed amendments to C-32 are not genuine but rather part of an attempt to oppose copyright and copyright reform, to drum up fear, and to mislead. Moore encourages confrontation, urging the audience to confront on Facebook, Twitter, talk shows and in the media until "they are defeated."
I'm under no illusion here. Yesterday, I asked in a post who Moore's "radical extremists" are. The video suggests that he thinks it is me and the thousands of other Canadians who have argued for fair copyright (a reporter at the event reached the same conclusion and CRIA lawyer Barry Sookman is happy to do the same). His comments met with applause from the audience and will be taken as a mandate to continue the astroturfing activities on Balanced Copyright for Canada.
To hear the Minister of Canadian Heritage both discredit the views of so many people and to encourage confrontation as the optimal plan of action is incredibly discouraging. To use his own words, it is an attempt to mislead, misdirect, and undermine what has been more than a year-long effort for Canadians to speak out on copyright. For those that are interested, my actual take on C-32 is here and some proposed amendments here. The comments are not dissimilar from many consumer, education, library, business, and creator groups. I see few people who are "absolutists" out there – most want a fair approach but may disagree on precisely where to strike the balance on issues such as digital locks or fair dealing.
Perhaps most troubling is the fact that this is part of a growing trend. Yesterday's comments targeted fair copyright, but we are not alone. When consumer groups criticize the bill, Moore claims they don't represent consumers and cites support from the Chamber of Commerce instead. When political opposition parties speak of the need for reform to digital locks provisions, he says they have not put forward amendments. When creator groups such as ACTRA criticize his approach, he blocks them on Twitter. When business and education groups express concern about digital locks, he selectively cites their supportive comments instead. Moore is clearly ready to fight and has urged the few supporters of DMCA-style provisions to do the same.
Those absolutists out there, who are babyish in their approach to copyright legislation who think that any idea that copyright reform would be an attack on individual citizens are people who frankly don't get. Let me amend what I said a minute ago. Don't ignore those voices. Those people who are out there who are saying that copyright legislation, copyright reform is not good, these are people who are dressing up the fact that they don't believe in copyright reform at all. Right. These people out there who don't believe in copyright at all. They will say, well Bill C-61, the old copyright legislation, we disagreed with these specific provisions. Well, Bill C-32 we have these specific amendments.
Don't fool yourself. These voices that are out there, these people that are out there who pretend to be experts that the media cite all the time. They don't believe in any copyright reform whatsoever. They will find any excuse to oppose this bill, to drum up fear, to mislead, to misdirect, and to push people in the wrong direction and to undermine what has been a meaningful comprehensive year-long effort to get something right. This hasn't been done since 1997, three years after I graduated high school. It's been a long time. We need to amend our legislation. Those people out there who try to pretend that they are copyright experts and they want to amend copyright in a meaningful way, don't be fooled by some of these people. They don't believe in any copyright. They don't believe in individuals' right to protect their own creations.
When they speak, they need to be confronted. If it's on Facebook, if it's on Twitter, or if it's on a talk show or if it is a newspaper, confront them and tell they are wrong. Canada, from the Hudson's Bay Company through FTA and NAFTA to the G8 and G20, Canada always has been and always will be a trading nation. Our future and our past and our prosperity has always been dependent on investment into Canada, being in compliance with international standards, opening ourselves up to the world, welcoming investment and working with the world. Not being an outlier in the world, disregarding international treaties like WIPO that we've signed, disregarding our obligations to protect foreign investment into Canada, Canadian investment into Canadian businesses, we need to protect those investments and protect those jobs.
Make sure that those voices who try to find technical, non-sensical, fear-mongering reasons to oppose copyright reform are confronted every step of the way and they are defeated. When we do that this bill will pass and Canada will be better for it.