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Liberal MP Dan McTeague: Repeat Copyright Infringer?

McTeague has been outspoken throughout the Bill C-32 committee hearings about the need to compensate creators – even engaging in a heated discussion with education groups who accused him of cherry picking facts about fair dealing – yet his posting of full text articles may well result in lost advertising revenue for Canadian media organizations.

  This raises at least two issues that McTeague has focused on during the C-32 hearings. First, the issue of “repeat infringers” and the claim that policies with a graduated response are needed.  This is often a euphemism for three-strikes and you’re out policies that would result in Internet users being cut off by their ISPs.  If these are in fact repeat infringements, this would appear to be a classic case where such a policy might apply.

Second, if the postings are infringing, the statutory damages liability could amount to $20,000 per infringement or over $500,000 for all the articles posted. Ironically, McTeague has been the most outspoken critic of a proposed change in Bill C-32 that would establish a $5,000 cap on non-commercial infringement, repeatedly expressing concerns about the impact of the proposed change. One wonders whether he feels that the prospect of his own infringing activity is more deserving of hundreds of thousands in liability.

46 Comments

  1. O_o
    If this is indeed the case we should not be too concerned, after all Politicians are providing a public service and should not be held to the same levels of accountability or standards that beholden the average citizen.

    [s]


  2. The question:

    Is McTeague doing something particularly egregious? Or is the copyright law going too far, restricting usage that common sense would say is harmless?

    Nap.

  3. Jeff Dunwoody says:

    Remember Sam Bulte?
    McTeague states, “Recently Toronto Star columnist and blogger Michael Geist…”

    In actuality, Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. He has obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees from Cambridge University in the UK and Columbia Law School in New York, and a Doctorate in Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia Law School.

    Dr Geist has been tasked by the government and is responsible for challenging legislators and law makers:

    http://www.chairs-chaires.gc.ca/chairholders-titulaires/profile-eng.aspx?profileID=840

    Let’s give credit where credit is due….

    Mr McTeague, you can always check with former colleague Sarmite Bulte, she is well aware of Geist’s accolades.

  4. what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander
    Well, this is just another case where legislators think they should have different (read: better, for them) rules than the people they are making the rules for.

    You know, like the Ontario politicians who made it impossible for the “constituency” to convert their locked in pensions to regular RRSPs, all the while leaving it possible for themselves to do it with their own pensions.

    I don’t know why this “one set of rules for MP[P]s and another for the schmucks that voted for them” is not outright illegal. How can corruption be prevented when the rule makers get to make different rules for themselves than those they “represent”?

    On a completely unrelated note, Dr. Geist, can we dispense withe the recaptchas? They are increasingly illegible and need reloading half a dozen times until one can one that one can make out.

  5. We are the generation that gave birth to remix culture, only to be faced by industrial revolutionary rules that state we can’t remix. We like to share ideas, media and info with each other, only to be told it’s piracy and face prosecution if we do. We want to take part in collaborating with our government and help shape our future, only to be shut out by lobbyists. Most of us do believe in global warming, while Canada is mocked at international climate conferences for its position on climate change. We want government to be open and transparent with citizens, only to find the door firmly shut. We want economic change, when all we see is old dying business models propped up in law. We want to be a voice that helps shape our future, only to find that our voice is not heard through political party platforms.

    We are Generation X, the largest voting demographic in Canada.


  6. @Jason K:

    There’s an elephant in the room and no one seems to notice him.

    We’re living times where information can flow quicker and become obsolete sooner, while at same time copyright terms get longer and longer.

    How about looking at this terms. How about reasonable ones, like 1 month for news items and 3 years for anything else.

    Nap.

  7. Comment on McTeague’s site
    I just left this comment on his rebuttal. I’m curious to see if it gets published.

    ===

    Thank you for your rebuttal.

    As you are, or likely will be, aware of Dr. Geist’s answer to your post (see: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5673/125/), I am curious to see your response.

    – Did you receive the necessary copyright permissions to re-post the articles found at http://danmcteague.liberal.ca/category/media/? If not, why?

    – Your own website links to copyrighted videos posted to YouTube by people who, likely, have not received permission to post them from the various news outlets. How does this make your website any different from IsoHunt in “enabling” copyright infringement? After all, like IsoHunt, this makes you a so-called “secondary infringer” since, while you did not do the actual infringement, you are indexing and enabling access to it.

    – How do the proposed reforms deal with larger, more general “enabling” sites, like Google? It is possible, if not easier, to find pirated content with a general search engine like Google. Does this make general internet search engines secondary infringers as well? How will C-32 affect the information industry if these businesses are constantly under threat of prosecution by “enabling” infringement?

  8. @Nap
    Recently in the middle east, a large portion of Youth feel that they are being ignored by government and want a say in how their country is run. Sound familiar…This is the feeling of not just Canadian Youth, but Youth worldwide.

    The Youth Vote is down, so much so that it is a huge problem that government is currently grappling with. In April 2010 a report was released to government stating:

    http://bit.ly/dzNgbl

    “The low rate of youth electoral participation is a problem that requires serious attention, in order to secure the future of democracy in Canada. Governments need a minimum level of legitimacy in order to make decisions that have a major impact on the lives of Canadians. Elections Canada is well aware of the situation and has taken a series of initiatives to attempt to reverse the trend. However, it is clear that research is needed to understand all aspects of the problem.”

    I watched Mansbridge One on One this weekend. The guest was Don Tapscott. A very interesting interview on the roll of social media and politics. A must see interview. What should be more worrisome to politicians in this country, is if they don’t start listening to the youth vote, it’s not their pocketbooks they will need to be worried about, it’s pissing off the majority of voters in this country. While most Gen X’ers are putting our politicians to task on twitter, the lack of leadership and acknowledgement in the youth vote is prime to erupt at some point. Canada is not immune to the size of protests found in the streets of the middle east. We may very well face this reality ourselves if our political leaders don’t step up to the plate here, since there are very similar issues that have yet to be addressed by our political leaders.

    As far as copyright is concerned, both McTeague and Geist are wrong. We can’t adapt rules that applied to a different age and economic model, to this new emerging one. It won’t work, and hasn’t worked well in the past. History has also taught us that applying old economic rules from a different economic age to a new one, almost always is doomed for failure. It’s a dying model of consumption based on rules of industrial individualism, not digital collaboration and sharing. Collaboration and sharing will be the basis for the new economy, not protectionist law. We need to build compensation on the basis of collaboration and sharing, not on models that existed in a different era in order to stand up for our creators.

    The only thing McTeague has done, is stood up for lobbyists, and continuing to ignore the youth portion of his constituency.

  9. @Nap
    The internet is shaped the way we want it to be. Those in power have vastly different ideals and views on the future of the internet, than the majority of voting Canadians. Those in power still hold ideals that were relivent to an economic age that no longer exists.


  10. @Jason: “Governments need a minimum level of legitimacy in order to make decisions that have a major impact on the lives of Canadians.”

    Correct. You can’t just play Manneken Pis over the heads of the citizens and expect it will work forever.

    This being said I would definitely prefer democratic solutions – like people participating in elections and voting out of office the Mannekens.

    Nap.

  11. well well says:

    Does he have honour?
    Well how about that.

    The only honourable think to do would be for Liberal MP Dan McTeague to resign due to his criminal thieving of other peoples hard work and intellectual property.

    Will Liberal MP Dan McTeague do the honourable thing?

    Is Liberal MP Dan McTeague honourable or just another liberal criminal who will hang on to his cushy job pushing the American agenda and lip flapping as their lobby mouth piece to influence Canadian laws, all the while continuing to steal other peoples hard work and property?

    Anyone surprised? Would anyone be surprised if he just shrugs it off as he continues to hate the Canadian people and wish them financial harm and hardships for doing what he himself is doing?

    Honour… Does he have any?


  12. @Jason: “As far as copyright is concerned, both McTeague and Geist are wrong. We can’t adapt rules that applied to a different age and economic model, to this new emerging one.”

    Dunno. I do like to joke here posting “abolish copyright!” messages… but we’re probably not ready yet for such “radical extremist” measure. I was looking again at it again from the copyright terms point of view. Maybe we should just gradually decrease them. I mean, if the terms were something like 3 years, I could take the lock provisions. I will just delay backing-up that DVD with 3 years. It won’t break until then. But when it’s forever… now that’s hard to accept.

    Nap.


  13. @well well: “The only honourable think to do would be for Liberal MP Dan McTeague to resign due to his criminal thieving of other peoples hard work and intellectual property.”

    Or admit that the copyright law is unreasonably restrictive and work onto relaxing it.

    Nap.

  14. Comment left at Mcteague’s site, lets see if it gets posted.
    It is my understanding that CIRA started the legal conflict with ISOhunt by first serving them with cease and desist orders. To say that the CRIA had to respond to legal action against them but that ISOhunt does not have that same avenues for recourse is a fundamental failure of law & democracy that you purport to represent.

  15. Karl Stevens says:

    @Napalm “I mean, if the terms were something like 3 years, I could take the lock provisions. I will just delay backing-up that DVD with 3 years. It won’t break until then.”

    You misunderstand the intent of the anti-circumvention provisions. Even if the copyright term was 3 years, you would *still* not be able to make those backups – the “locks” would still be in place, you wouldn’t be allowed to own the tools to circumvent them (or to even talk about how to circumvent.)

    The entire purpose of legally-protected DRM is to allow big business to circumvent copyright altogether. They get all the benefits of copyright, but none of the drawbacks – no fair dealing, no expiry, etc.


  16. @Karl:

    So if C-32 passes “as is” no one ever would be allowed to copy a fragment from a DVD? not even after 99 years or whatever term is in place now? Duh.

    nap.

  17. @Nap
    How can we minimize copyright when it’s unenforceable? Copyright is an ideal of a different generation. One that’s based on the restriction of collaboration and sharing. The ideas of Gen X are to basically share content and network. That’s what the majority of voters in Canada do. We need a model of consumption that is relevant to the medium it serves. Copyright as it exists in law around the world is irrelevant, and unenforceable. You can’t adapt these laws or rules to serve the purpose it served over a different economic era either. We need a more direct route of compensation in the digital marketplace. That’s how we protect our creative industries.

    Most in the creative industries sign over basically all rights to publishers etc, on contract. Creators get pennies from royalty payments through copyright. It only protects the labels interest, not creative interests and pocketbooks.

    I’m not in favour of abolishing copyright, just that the whole mode of compensation be completely overhauled, rather than trying to adapt old ideology that is no longer relevant nor will work.


  18. @Jason:

    Now I’m confused. I expect that laws make sense. Like in motor vehicle laws. I can understand why I should stop at red traffic lights and how the whole thing works so we can all move along without hurting each other. But this C-32 doesn’t make any sense. It’s just a money grab from people with deep pockets who can afford to buy “copyrights” from authors.

    nap.

  19. @Nap
    That’s why compensation needs to be built into the network. The appropriate system that has come to light to allow this to happen is the Songwriters proposal. Independent academics in the copyright debate I have researched all support this view, and the view that political ideology around copyright needs to change, otherwise these industries will keep dying out with innovators not willing to innovate around rules that are not collaborative, and network based.

  20. I thought CR laws in Canada didn’t allow article republishing liek Dan McTeague has done even if full credit was given to the rights holder of the article.

  21. @JasonK
    As time goes on, the attitudes of most all generations change; the teenagers of the 1960s have, in many cases, very different attitudes than what they had as teens. This is a result, I believe, of a change in responsibilities, such as having a family, having to save for retirement, etc.

  22. Supporter of federal Liberals says:

    I’ve been supporting the Liberal Party of Canada for several years now.

    When arguing a point, it is important to cite your statements.

    Dr. Geist has clearly done so in the above article. Mr. Teague did not provide any citations in his response to Dr. Geist.

    I also felt misled by his neglecting to mention Dr. Geist’s academic credentials, as Jeff Dunwoody points out.

    I don’t think Dr. Geist has engaged in any playground name-calling. His comments were straightforward: Dan McTeague is parroting the CRIA (“The McTeague post confirms that his earlier letter to the editor came directly from content supplied by CRIA…”); he is the most “anti-consumer MP” for many reasons, one of which is his support for internet disconnection based on allegation of infringement (“…issues that McTeague has focused on during the C-32 hearings. First, the issue of “repeat infringers” and the claim that policies with a graduated response are needed…”); and he gets the law wrong (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5668/125/).

  23. Supporter of federal Liberals says:

    Please note: I still support the federal Liberals
    I would like to add that I still support the Liberal Party of Canada. While I disagree with Mr. McTeague, Mr. Ignatieff, and some other Liberal MPs on certain issues, I am grateful that they support enough policies that I do agree with.

    For example, despite Mr. McTeague’s views, Marc Garneau has repeatedly drawn attention to C-32′s digital locks as needing reform (see http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5082/196/).

  24. Uncle Sam says:

    One could well wonder whether McTeague himself actually wrote the rambling rant dated March 4, 2011 on his site against the professor – who he insists on calling “Mr.” Likewise his letter to the editor in The Star taking on the professor. In among all the propaganda and ad hominen attacks, there are tell-tale signs of a lawyer at work. Could it be that McTeague has a McGhost writer? Perhaps at a mega McLaw firm? And if so, who pays the bill?

    LPC – remember Sam Bulte. You can’t afford to lose Scarborough East.

  25. @Anon-K
    “As time goes on, the attitudes of most all generations change; the teenagers of the 1960s have, in many cases, very different attitudes than what they had as teens. This is a result, I believe, of a change in responsibilities, such as having a family, having to save for retirement, etc.”

    I find this very dismissive. The youth I’m talking about is between 18 – 34. Some of us do have a change in responsibilities that include having a family saving for retirement. This age group also has the highest unemployment rate ever at around 14.5% nationally (already in crisis mode), and no active policy to deal with it.

    While attitudes do evolve, so does our world. Throughout history whenever an economic and/or social revolution takes place, it usually ends up with a general strike to invoke change. What’s worrisome, is we have yet to go through that in North America. Youth unemployment in the us is 23%! Those youth rising in the middle east hold the same values as most of the connected youth in North America. Where do you think they got from? Speaking through social media. It’s a global conversation, not regionalized. Politicians need to take note of that.

    While attitudes most definitely change with age and maturity, those in power and from a different generation shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss a large portion of Canadian society who is eagar to contribute around their ideals but can’t because of the dismissive nature of the older generations. That is also the same battle throughout history, exactly what’s playing out in the middle east right now, what those who walked in protest in the 1960′s were and fighting against. Change is never easy. It is also true that the more you get older, the more set in your ways you become and the less adaptive to change you are.


  26. @Jason & Anon:

    Just for fun:

    “If you are not a socialist by the time you are 25, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist by the time you are 35, you have no head.”

    Nap. :-)

  27. @Anon-K
    I have to laugh at the situation though, the Boomers have essentially become something they swore they would never, and that’s old. They are putting their kids through almost the exact same fight that shaped our world in the 1960s. The protests are there digitally, just not physically yet. “Yet” being the proper form. Politicians have a real chance to engage this generation too, through social media and are choosing not to. Very few do. Most politicians need to take lessons for Clement. He’s spot on with social media, and is fully engaged.


  28. @Jason: “Politicians have a real chance to engage this generation too, through social media and are choosing not to. Very few do. Most politicians need to take lessons for Clement.”

    Some politicians are completely disconnected. Michael just posted a link to Mme. Lavallee’s letter to Mr. Clement. I quote:

    “La communauté internationale vous en implore : Barack Obama l’a rappelé au premier ministre Stephen Harper lors de sa dernière visite à Washington.”

    Cool. That’s exactly how you get very popular especially with the youngsters. You just tell them that they need to bend over because Obama demanded it. Instant approval. lol.

    Nap. :-)

  29. @Nap
    Anyone would be extremely wrong to assume that Obama is as popular as when he was first elected. The priorities of the youth were also not met, on reforming Washington and booting special interests out, and dealing with youth unemployment. All one has to do it look at his mid-term results to see what kind of a political mess that created. The pressure is on for all politicians to start listening and engaging the youth.

    “If you are not a socialist by the time you are 25, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist by the time you are 35, you have no head.”

    I disagree. If that was the case the NDP would be ahead of the Conservatives in the polls. The youth can’t really attach themselves to political ideology currently due to political platforms not catering to the demographic. But a side point to this would be, if you want to win the next election with a majority, you will need the Gen X vote to do it. Those seeking majority territory should be collaborating with Gen X, and putting out relevant platforms.

  30. Hmmm …
    @Crockett “Comment left at Mcteague’s site, lets see if it gets posted?”

    Nope.

    Seems the MP’s only perspective is his own.

  31. @Nap
    Mr. McTeague very well may have shut the door to the youth vote for the Liberals with his take on “Standing up for Creators”. The vast majority of Canadians do disagree with his take on exactly what that means. Not a smart move, and theres a lot of youth in his riding.


  32. @Jason:

    Ain’t it funny. I was posting this remark earlier and now I have to do it again: Every time the conservatives do something unpopular, the liberals will find a way to outdo them. Did Mr. Moore become highly unpopular with his digital locks obstinacy? No problem, our very own Mr. McTeague will largely outdo him…..

    Nap. ;-)

  33. “Youth vote” what’s that exactly? Most people in their 20′s and 30′s hardly know or care who the Prime Minister is, and care much more about updating their facebook page than paying attention to election issues.

    Youth vote… what a funny concept.

    In regards to Clement, he’s just another Harper lap-dog trying to get his propaganda – err, sorry – his message across, he could not care less about you pleebs.


  34. @Tom: “In regards to Clement, he’s just another Harper lap-dog trying to get his propaganda – err, sorry – his message across, he could not care less about you pleebs. ”

    Maybe but at least you have to admit that he’s more skilled at it than other politicians.

    Or, as the youth would text it, “CLEMENT HAZ SKILLZ”.
    :-)

    Nap.

  35. Very Captivating Interview of @dtapscott on the use of social media in politics during CBC’s Mansbridge One on One this past weekend now online: http://bit.ly/ePWFXw


  36. @Jason:

    The freakin’ video won’t play unless you let CBC to store stuff on your computer via flash player. Must be one of those super-cookies:

    http://www.osnews.com/story/23830/Evercookie_Virtually_Irrevocable_Persistent_Cookies

    Well done, CBC!

    Nap.

  37. @Nap
    I’ve reported on it, here:

    http://bit.ly/h3sc2Z

    You can also download the audio podcast of the CBC interview, through Itunes or RSS:

    http://www.cbc.ca/thenational/mansbridge/

    Links are located under the podcast section.


  38. @Jason: “http://bit.ly/h3sc2Z”

    Mostly agreed. I’d definitely prefer having the youth voting their favorite new party into office than roaming the streets with Molotov cocktails.

    Nap.


  39. Methinks that Michael Geist downloaded infringing materials from McTeague’s site. This ain’t any different than downloading infringing materials from P2P networks. Michael, you pirate! :-)

    Let’s stop this madness now. Abolish copyright!

    Nap. :-)

  40. @Jason K
    My comment was not intended to be dismissive, rather, as you pointed out, that attitudes within a group change. As such, I expect that the attitudes of the Gen X’ers, some of whom currently argue in one way, will change their mind and later argue that the next generations are wrong when they are arguing for something similar, in the same way that the boomers did. I know that my attitudes have changed as I aged; now in my late 40s (tail end boomer) I’ve become more conservative on some topics, more liberal on others (and note that I used the small-c and small-l versions).

    While I agree that those in power from a different generation shouldn’t dismiss the positions of others, well, my experience has been that that isn’t going to happen. Heck, people, in particular those towards the more extremes of the left and right, will dismiss the opinions of those at the other end of the spectrum simply because they don’t agree. A great example of this is in the crap that you see in the comments on stories at the CBC and Globe and Mail websites. A lot of brow beating and little actual discussion.

    The laws in Canada don’t necessarily change as fast as the technology and the attitudes of the public; the current discussions on copyright and private copying levies are a prime example of this.

    On the subject of youth voting, well, the only thing that I would add to that is that I believe that a new entry should be added to the ballot. And that entry is “None of the above”. While there is a lot of talk about online voting, etc, as a means to bring out the youth vote, I am not so sure about that. The system requires to ensure that a person only votes once, and that the person who fills in the ballot is in fact the person they claim to be. While do-able, this can be a logistical nightmare and I am of the opinion that it won’t do as much as what its proponents indicate. After all, if none of the choices are acceptable…

  41. Napalm said: …
    Mostly agreed. I’d definitely prefer having the youth voting their favorite new party into office than roaming the streets with Molotov cocktails.

    Except Molotov cocktails will have a bigger effect and probably positive changes in the long run if the streets are on fire.

    Politicians only care to be elected and not burnt at the stake.

  42. @Anon-K
    Attitudes among politicians to connect with the very people they serve should never change. Whether you are old, or young, all voices need to be respected in a democratic way. Society has a way in righting itself, and if those in power continue to not listen, it may create an environment that is ripe for revolution. It’s already happening digitally. There is time to engage and listen, before the physical aspects of this revolution show its face. The choice on whether that happens or not, I firmly believe will have a major impact on our democratic principles, government and on the Canadian identity.

  43. None of the above
    @Anon-K

    That suggestion has been floating around since I was a youth, and even before that. It pinpoints the biggest flaw in our representative democratic system.

    But the question that invariably comes up; What then? What if “None of the above” garners the most votes? Another vote with a completely new slate of candidates? Such a choice seems to explicitly mandate it. And if none of those are acceptable?
    If we can come up with a socially acceptable answer to that question, such an option becomes viable.

    There are other possibilities for representative democracy as well, especially if we can crack the online unique/authentication/authorized issues. Garner x amount of “supporters” and you are in. No matter where in the country these supporters are. Lose them, and you are out again. Garner twice as many supporters, and you get to vote twice on any issue before the house. Anonymity isn’t required for this idea, in fact you don’t really want it.

    Various attempts to address the “Youth vote” issue isn’t new (and it is more than just “youth”), there are lots of interesting suggestions. In today’s world we have many more capabilities than we had in the past, options that were previously impossible are now within the realm of the possible, with more happening every day.

  44. @oldguy
    Excellent reply! Well said and well done.


  45. There should be a mechanism where you could vote out of office your MP. If he’s doing something particularly scandalous we shouldn’t have to wait for the full term until the next election.

    Nap.

  46. The disconnect between people AND COMPANIES under the age of 35 with their governments across the western world on this issue is even greater than in prohibition era USA.

    While people trapped under the DMCA in the west continue to ignore such laws en-masse and develop the circumvention tools using the same collaborative system the fossils in parliaments worldwide ignore, it’s not only individuals putting up a fight.

    While civil disobedience is not an option for companies, those which deal in information systems avoid copyrighted software as much as they can in lieu of copyleft software which leverages this new collaborative system. It’s financially unfeasible to do otherwise.

    I work in large scale deployments, and the costs of using windows over RHEL or debian stable are astronomical. Recently, 10% of one of my deployments was REQUIRED to run windows, and the license fees for those 10% exceeded the yearly salaries of the whole team. Within 2 months it got the attention of accounting. Now we’ve shifted several resources to make sure we never have to deploy windows beyond the individual scale again.