The U.S. Influence on Bill C-32 Hits House of Commons Debate

One of the most notable aspects of the House of Commons debate on Bill C-32 thus far (debate continues today) has been the recognition by opposition MPs of the influence of the U.S. on the bill’s digital lock rules.  In the opening debate, Bloc MP Carole Lavallée argued:

This bill was developed for the big American film and video game companies, and digital locks meet most of their needs. For these big American and European film and video game companies, the government did a good job.

That theme continued in day two of the debate in this exchange between the NDP and the Liberals:

Mr. Jim Maloway, NDP:

The government has made the claim that it must follow the American approach to the WIPO Internet treaties and must support the digital lock measures in the bill. However, 88 countries have now ratified the WIPO treaties and only half of those 88 countries support the American approach. Does the member believe that perhaps the current government is being overly influenced by the American movie industry, business lobbyists or perhaps even American politicians to get their version of what should be a proper agreement in force in Canada with the view to having a sort of common competitive market in North America?

Mr. Pablo Rodriguez, Liberals:

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. First of all, I would say that generally speaking, the government is always a little too easily influenced by what happens in the United States, especially during the previous administration, the Bush administration. The issue of digital locks is interesting, because there are various options and various ways to respect our treaties. We think it is acceptable, however, but not in an absolute way. There must be some kind of reasoning behind it, a certain limit. For instance, when people buy a certain product, there must be a way for them to make a copy for their personal use without violating the copyright.

The discussion brings to mind Blayne Haggart’s article in From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda.  Haggart examines the copyright systems in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, concluding that each country has considerable latitude in establishing its own laws.  However, he quotes a former Industry Minister chief of staff reflecting on past Canadian copyright reform efforts as follows:

The Prime Minister’s Office’s position was, move quickly, satisfy the United States and both of our positions were, politically speaking, “Listen, there have been mistakes made in the DMCA, there are a list of exceptions that have been created by court, can we not have DMCA lite?” And they said: ‘We don’t care what you do, as long as the US is satisfied.”

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  1. Bill MacEachern says:

    “As long as the US is satisfied”
    Good to see our government kowtowing once again to US interests, against the interests and wishes of the citizens of Canada, to the point of outright lying to us with this nonsense about hands being tied, gotta ratify the treaty etc.

  2. Why the U.S.?
    Why are we trying to satisfy the U.S. specifically? Isn’t WIPO an international treaty? Seems to me we should be seeking to satisfy on the international scene, NOT the U.S.

    If the U.S. wanted a Canada-U.S. treaty like that, they should have went for it (Not that we’d ever accept it – at least I hope >.>)

  3. “As long as the US is satisfied”
    Well I have some news for you. They *never* get satisfied. The more you give them the more they want. Give them WIPO, they come up with ACTA. Sign ACTA and they’ll come with something new. It’s a never ending game. Pretty much like in dealing with the “protection” racket. Oh wait isn’t it exactly what it is.

    And only if they would observe their side of the treaties.


  4. Reports from Fort Erie say several battalions of US entertainment lawyers had amassed on the Buffalo side of the Peace Bridge in recent days. It looked for awhile there like they would advance toward Ottawa, but it turned out they were just looking for chicken wings.

    Stand down everyone.

  5. BAH!!! The US feels they’re exempt from the treaties…They make the rules so they don’t have to follow the. Typical of the americans to think they’re the king of the world. “Do as I say, not as I do!!”. They’ll be the first to cry foul though if someone else doesn’t follow the treaty to the letter though.

  6. “We don’t care what you do, as long as the US is satisfied”
    That statement there is so incriminating, so telling, so utterly self-damning that I’m not sure if I should laugh or be livid.

    If anyone ever wanted proof that the conservatives lied to us, *THIS* little gem is it.

    And to think they had the audacity to claim that this bill is really a “made in Canada” solution… Oh sure it might have been drafted within our borders, but guess who’s calling the shots?

  7. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    hardly a joking matter
    Tom Watson, quite possibly the only elected UK Member of Parliament (Labour Party) to actually understand the technology, commented on the incredible intensity of the American lobbying efforts brought to bear in the lead up to the passage of the UK’s dreadful Digital Economy Bill. The resultant Digital Economy Act has the dubious distinction of being even worse that the US DMCA. Canada’s Bill C-32 has the potential to be worse still.

    Seems to me that a democratic government ought to be representing the citizens of the country it serves, rather than the corporate interests of another.

  8. @Laurel L. Russwurm
    It should be, but it’s not. The funniest thing is that it’s suppose to be all about Canadians and Canadian artists, but it really comes off as a “Let’s appease the US multinationals”. Degan’s attempts to make it look like it’s not otherwise.

  9. @ Degen: “Stand down everyone”…

    …and kiss our asses goodbye?!
    Not on my lifetime I would. Pathetic.

  10. @ Degen: “Stand down everyone”…
    Whoops, what I meant to say is kiss the US corps asses?! Never!

  11. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain …
    If there is no US influence on our elected officials then what was the point of the CRIA’s recent high profile trek to Washington .. sight seeing?

  12. End of downloading for private use? ISP’s will take hardest hit
    It looks like the NDP was the only one who
    addressed the issue.

    If downloading for private use becomes illegal, ISP’s
    will take the hardest hit. Who will want Hi speed
    internet then? What would be the use for it? To watch
    our web pages load faster? That would be like taking
    the net back 13 years.

    The end of the internet, not likely. The end of
    High speed internet in Canada, most likely. Most
    people aren’t going to pay over $50 a month to
    watch Slam canoe sports load at a faster pace.

    Back to dial up?

  13. @MK
    There will be no end to P2P file sharing, it’ll just morph into something the industry nor ISP’s can track (it already has), which is of worry to the intelligence community if that morph gets into the mainstream.

    Graduated Response: A Threat to National Security:

  14. @MK There are many uses for high speed other than file sharing. That’s just more propaganda fear mongering. Legal streaming services for video, music, telepresence etc. all are dependent on fat pipes and high bandwidth caps. Unfortunately the same companies that provide the lions share of internet connectivity in Canada are also buying up the media distributors and lowering the bandwidth caps at the same time. So yes, now that I reconsider it, maybe we should all go back to dial up 0_o

  15. @MK
    No, no such thing will happen. No one will respect or believe in the law, ultimately, relatively few will know about it and fewer will abide by it and it will become unenforceable…a black eye on the conservative government. Assuming it makes it through committee without major mods and doesn’t get dropped on the floor at all. At this point a vote of non-confidence would look good on the conservatives. 100 years ago they would have been hung for so blatantly bending to international pressure. Hopefully our system works properly and this “made for USA” bill gets amended into something a little more balanced.

  16. Yeah, high speed isn’t going anywhere. With the mount of multimedia online these days, websites would take too long to load and some sites would not even be accessible without high speed. Plus if you play any games online, you’re going to want high speed as well.

  17. Wait…
    Canada has high speed internet?


  18. Thanks for your input, guys.

    IMO, it will be the people who have paid for
    the highest speeds, the ones up to 15 MBPS,
    who will be downgrading their subscriptions.
    What do they think people were using those speeds
    for? lol Make it illegal, and the ISP’s will be
    getting less money. People then will be reverting
    to HS lite, which will still make Rogers and Bell
    lots of money, but not half as much dough they’re
    raking in right now.

    As Chris.A alluded to, there will be multimedia out
    there, but will most want to even watch it? Do you
    mean the kind of multimedia on youtube, watching two
    kids act like fools? Or watching some guy review
    some video game he’d just played? Is this the kind
    of multimedia you were alluding to, Chris?

  19. “Wait…
    Canada has high speed internet?

    Really? ”

    If they make downloading for personal purposes
    illegal, then it may not matter all that much if
    Canada has HS internet or not. The ISP’s gave people
    very high speeds, and I’m sure knew what people were
    going to do with it. They just wanted the revenue.
    Now, other corps are trying to take that freedom

  20. Hulu plus, Netflix HD, Amazon on demand … all legal delivery services that will require high speed, plus all the others we haven’t thought of yet. To say illegal downloading drives high speed is a bit silly. Even regular an old 2Mbs line can download a movie sized file in an hour or so (or so I’ve heard).

  21. On the off topic thread:
    Low speed, high speed, dial up. It doesn’t matter, there will be downloading and filesharing, it just takes longer on some connections. On the other hand, all dynamic streaming services REQUIRE a fairly high speed. Ubiquitous high speed may actually help reduce P2P and downloading, as longer as the alternatives are accessible, global, fairly priced, and easier than the current P2P. The success of iTunes shows that people will pay for their content when it is easy to access. But that “easy” includes high speed internet connections.

    On the main topic, one really has to wonder why “we” are bowing to US pressure to implement measures stronger than the US itself has in place. Measures that have been shown to be ineffective in the US, and opening the door to legal abuse of those same legal measures. What are our politicians thinking?

    If one considers the source of these pressures in the US, the question is what are they after? What do they think they will achieve? Do they know nothing of psychology or sociology? Do they really think that the reason these measures in the US are ineffective is because they aren’t strong enough? If we credit them with at least the education and intelligence of the average downloader or P2P sharer, they certainly can see that stronger measures won’t work, it has to be a different *kind* of measure.

    Back to basics. Everything to do with copyright is a purely social construct. Technology doesn’t change society directly, but it does enable new and different society behaviors. Yes, copyright laws need to be updated to reflect the new society behaviour. But more importantly, the business model of being an “artist” or “author” needs to adapt to the new society norms.
    This isn’t new. Worldwide digital connections have already disrupted the income of wide swaths of society. Many because a business adopted newer, and more efficient and cheaper, channels for labour and distribution. But sometimes because whole industries become outdated. People can adapt to those changes, they have already proven it. One would think that a person specializing in professional creativity could adapt at least as well. Or perhaps the collectives and associations representing them should be actively exploring alternatives that reflect our changing society.

    If you step back and look at it from a wide perspective, it is clear that these “political pressures” from the US aren’t coming from the average person there. I doubt the average US citizen even knows about the political pressure being brought to bear on Canada concerning our copyright laws. I’m sure there would be a wide range of responses if they were made aware, from outrage to don’t care, but very, very, few would be saying “yeah right, they deserve it!”. Canada still engenders a lot of respect from US people, even if it seems to get very little from the US government.

  22. Fair pricing and content ,name of the game
    If downloading for personal use becomes illegal, I’m
    very much hoping that services like Hulu, Hulu Plus,
    Amazon on demand (Hulu and Hulu Plus aren’t even
    here yet, if they ever do make it in Canada) can
    we be sure we don’t get an overly price, watered down
    version (which we almost always get) from these US
    based companies? Someone had mentioned that they had
    joined Netflix Canada, and their selection was very
    limited, in terms of movies and quality selections

    To me, this would be very unfair to take
    downloading for personal use away, and then give
    Canadians inferior services, compared to what
    our neighbours, friends and cousins get in the

  23. @MK – Apparently you haven’t been to any websites lately, based on your comments and all. Most of them have a lot of images and flash built in that can take a very long time to load. The difference between high speed and dial up is so vast with regards to just Internet browsing in general that it’s not going anywhere just because people like the speed.

    Plus I doubt the new copyright law will greatly affect the number of people who download stuff online. ISPs will be fine through all of this.

    @oldguy – “On the main topic, one really has to wonder why “we” are bowing to US pressure to implement measures stronger than the US itself has in place. Measures that have been shown to be ineffective in the US, and opening the door to legal abuse of those same legal measures. What are our politicians thinking? ”

    Because Canada likes to make the same mistakes as everyone else, but generally in a much worse way for no reason whatsoever.

  24. john walker says:

    @ oldguy
    The world wide pressure might has more to do with the interests of the “copyright industry” than with the interests of manufactures / publishers (let alone artists). The licensing industry over the last forty years became a real and distinct entity with its own interests. The licensing industry is very directly threatened by the developments of the past decade. It is increasingly economicaly uncompetitive.
    Hence its need to replace copyright with tariffs : hypothecated taxes, paid to the the licensing industry. These taxes need ever more draconian enforcement and wider and wider application if they are not to fail.

  25. @john walker
    “The licensing industry is very directly threatened by the developments of the past decade.”

    No argument there. But this industry has been built on the efforts/exploitation of the artists and authors. The artists and authors are the ones that should be in the driving seat, not the industry built up based on their efforts. The justification for draconian measures is based on “protection” for these creators. An industry is expected to take care of itself during changing times (or die). Which really leaves an impassioned defense of the creators as the only argument left. These creators are just people like everyone else that has been impacted by worldwide digital connections. They can and will adapt, even if the “industry” cannot. They can have the same assurances for success as everyone already impacted in our changing digital society, none.

    This is why the whole social structure surrounding Copyright needs to be reconsidered. Trying to patch or twist an outdated construct for the new world leaves way too many loopholes and inconsistencies. Industry input should be welcomed, but industry health should not be an element of consideration. Purely the relationship between a creator and modern society, their audience.

    “These taxes need ever more draconian enforcement and wider and wider application if they are not to fail.”

    More draconian enforcement is not the path to success. It will only ensure a more spectacular failure. The evolving society will respond, portions are already responding, and that response will take all kinds of shapes. Jail or bankrupt enough kids, and their parents and grandparents start becoming a political force to be answered to.

  26. Well said Oldguy.

  27. and…
    if you ban peer to peer, people will just use something else. usenet, file hosting services, and whatever new technology is coming down the pipe. Copyright lobbyists can’t shut them down fast enough. They finally nail limewire, only to realize most of the P2P community moved on a long time ago. By the time they get the pirate bay shut down, everybody will be using some newer thing. I don’t think ISPs have much to worry about.

    The only way to stop P2P, is to dismantle the internet. Thats it.

  28. Barrett hit the nail right on the head!!! Most people consider Napster as the first P2P downloading service. Did a $100,000,000 law suit stop file sharers? Of course not, options popped up: Grokster, Kazaa, eDonkey, Limewire, Bittorrent, to name a few…some now defunct, others have gone legit. While Napster might have been the first widely used, there was widespread downloading long before that. As Barrett said, services like Usenet, and filehosting offer options, other services like IRC file server and SFTP are other options. These services tend to be less user friendly and require more technical knowledge, however, one can always find what you’re looking for if you want it bad enough. Incidentally, as much as the industry would like us to think otherwise, all these options are still widely used.

  29. The industry is trying to put the genie back in the bottle rather than adapt to the fact that the genie is now out.

  30. So true. They like the genie analogy…more due to Aladdin and pop-culture. Genies are prisoners of their bottles and can never come out until called…they MUST go back when told. They give their master ultimate power. ;-D

    In reality, Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah believed the djinn were generally “ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous”…this likely lends to the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for…” since if a wish was worded poorly, the genie would twist the words against the master. Watch the movie Wes Craven “Wishmaster”, that’s more accurate to the historical genie. Fun movie too.

    I personally like the genie analogy, but using the classical malicious djinn rather than the pop-culture Aladdin-style genie. No matter what the industry wishes for, the djinn will always twist the words against them.

    Another good analogy is Pandora’s Box which cantained all the evil of the world…once opened, and the evil released, it can never be closed. Of cource, the indistry considers P2P and the Internet to be evil.

  31. How’s this for irony?”
    “KISS Videos Removed Due To Copyright Claims”

  32. More do what I say not what I do.

  33. john walker says:

    Old Guy mostly agree.

    Redistributive compulsory collection collectives with transaction levy powers are not the answer to the problems currently surrounding copyright; They are the destruction of copyright.

    The post ww2 world was a time when the distribution and production of culture was largely a natural monopoly. In a bigger picture this fifty year period was a exception ,not the rule.

    This has left a legacy issue; The Licensing industry grew up as a service industry/lap dog to those natural monopolies of cultural production/distribution. The Natural Monopolies are rapidly going west and the Licensing industry is looking increasingly hungry.

  34. Unfortunately, very little can be done. They shut down Napster and a half a dozen services popped up in it’s place. They will shut down “The Pirate Bay” and ISOHunt and the like and something else, bigger, better and more secure will come along in it’s place. Heavy-handed draconian laws will not do a lick of good, if people want they will find it…period. I don’t like the levies, but the more I think about it, the more I find myself thinking that removing them at such a “tender” stage in our copyright revamp to be a bad idea. Many artists with crappy contracts have come to rely on this levy as an “off season” source of income and cutting it off cold turkey might cause more harm than good.

  35. john walker says:

    “Many artists with crappy contracts have come to rely on this levy as an “off season” source of income and cutting it off cold turkey might cause more harm than good.”

    A professional musician friend describes the system as : “they construct frequency playlists , and then they give the money to whoever they like”.
    I doubt that there will be a sudden cut off bang , it is more likely to end in a whimper.