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Prentice's DMCA Indecision

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Wednesday June 04, 2008
The Globe and Mail reports this morning that the introduction of the Canadian DMCA has now been delayed until next week, though some MPs apparently believe that today is still the day.  While the indecision may be attributable to any number of things (the GM layoff announcement, the current pressure on the government arising from the Bernier affair, or the public criticism of a Canadian DMCA and ACTA), the real source of the problem is that Prentice has treated the copyright file primarily as a communications issue rather than as a policy one.  From the moment of his appointment as the Minister of Industry, his instructions from the Prime Minister have been clear - introduce a copyright bill and make sure that the U.S. is happy with it.  With that, the fear is that the concerns of many Canadian stakeholders have taken a backseat to satisfying the demands of the PMO and the USA.

Over the past two weeks, the plans for introducing the bill have continuously changed.  Sources say the initial plan was to get it out immediately after the Victoria Day weekend, press for the completion of second reading before the summer break, and then conduct summer hearings.  Now it may be just to get it out, or to wait until next week and do a dump and dash - introduce the Canadian DMCA and make a quick exit to Asia for the OECD meeting. 

I would argue that much of this could have been solved with greater transparency and consultation.  On the transparency side, Prentice has stuck to his line about working with the Minister of Canadian Heritage on a balanced bill, yet the Globe quotes the recording industry as having been promised that the bill will be tabled before the House of Commons breaks for the summer.  In other words, Prentice has been telling the public one thing and the copyright lobby something else. 

The absence of a real consultation is obviously the other big source of trouble.  While the article quotes an unnamed lobbyist as saying that copyright is too difficult for a minority government, I've argued that there is a consensus position that would leave many reasonably satisfied.  By excluding Canadians from this process, Prentice has ensured that copyright is his most polarizing issue and led to the mixed messages of the past number of months.  The way forward is clear - shelve the current bill and open up the process with a real consultation.
Comments (20)add comment

Puckem said:

Never believe a neo-con
Ah, the politics of stonewalling, lying, misdirection obfuscation and deceit. And harper and fellow minions have barely gotten started delivering this country on a silver platter to the US! I hope that those that voted for them are very proud!
June 04, 2008

Zeeman said:

Propaganda by Conservatives
The tories are here to sell us out, lock, stock, and barrel to any american corporation they can get money from or just want to be friendly with.
The reichwing blinders are soo tight they don't even notice the GOP losing in the US.
June 04, 2008

phoomp said:

\"too difficult for a minority governmen
If it's too difficult for a minority government, it's only because a minority government can't easily force it's will upon the people (unless the official opposition is more afraid of an election than the government) and actually needs to find out what the people want.

A difficult pill for democratically elected officials to swallow, I know.
June 04, 2008

Nathan Wainwright said:

Amazing
It's amusing to see just how far Harper has moved from his running platform, I seem to remember statements of "more transparency in government", and "removing government from Canadians lives."

FYI to the PMO, you're doing the opposite.
June 04, 2008

North of 49 said:

\"His two bosses\"
"...his two bosses (PMO and USA)." Definitely, if by "USA" you mean something like: The GOP and what leftie bloggers to the south are calling "Deep Government", that is, the 500-pound gorillas of American big business and the moneyed individuals who control it.

I'm guessing that's probably what you meant. The question arises, though, as to just why PMO and by extension Prentice are so eager to please the 500-pound gorillas? I think it's because they are investing for their retirement. Harper, for sure; the other Droogs, probably.

Taking just Harper as the most illustrative example, ask yourselves what this man, who has always been a politician in one form or another, will do after he has finished being Prime Minister? (May he find out sooner rather than later.)

I think, like Mike Harris, he desperately needs patrons. He needs a cushy sinecure as a Fellow at the Fraser Institute or some similar so-called think tank, he needs corporate directorships, he needs speaking engagements to ideologically pure and deep-pocketed audiences, he needs publishers.

Who can provide these? Not ordinary Canadians. Not small businesses. Certainly not the public sector, unions, or NGOs. No, the only source is Big Business, and having no means beyond his pension, he needs to please these... entities ... so he can get in on the goodies. (To which, I believe, he is convinced he is righteously and rightfully entitled.)

Look at this government's actions to date through that lens, and it explains quite a lot. Obviously it's not the only factor, but I think it's a pretty big one.
June 04, 2008

Chris S said:

If it\'s introduced but not passed...
Time to learn a new word...

"prorogue"

Google News for (prorogue canada) and see what you get.
June 04, 2008

PorkBellyFutures said:

Disappointment
I subscribed to this blog's RSS feed long ago because Professor Geist offered informed insight into a cause I really believe in (balanced copyright law).

I still enjoy reading Professor's Geist's newspaper op-eds. However, it has been disheartening as of late to see this blog descend to becoming just another left wing echo chamber. Posting things like "the concerns of many Canadian stakeholders have taken a backseat to satisfying the demands of his two bosses (PMO and USA)" serves no purpose other than to inflame the readership. It is propagandist speculation, devoid of informational value.

I care about these issues. And this is why it makes me sad see a good source of information transform into a rallying point for activism. I'm not trying to say that Professor Geist is doing something wrong, here. If Professor Geist has decided that being such a rallying point is more important than providing an objective and fact-based viewpoint on the issues, then that is his right. But I am going to stop reading it because it becomes less relevant to me. And I suspect I'm not alone.
June 04, 2008

a guest said:

comments on an exaggeration
PorkBellyFutures, if laws are being made which are against the interest of Canadians, and if our government is not taking the necessary steps to hear the views of Canadians, then don't you think that some amount of 'activism' is called for?

WRT Geist's jab at the Americans. If you consider for a moment that most of the domestic lobbying for stronger copyright is really coming from American businesses dressed up to look Canadian. (CRIA and CAAST come to mind), and that the USTR has made no bones about their pressure on other world governments to fall in line, and that the Tories have always wanted to create stronger ties with the US, and finally that the government's actions on this file demonstrate that they are only listening to one side, then I think you could safely categorize Geist's words as little more than an exaggeration. Only a slight one at that.
June 04, 2008

Kevin said:

Plans for the bill
There is another possible plan... I remember reading in one article this morning on the subject that it is expected that the bill in the current rumoured form would be defeated. Thus, introducing said bill would serve the purpose of allowing the government to say to the interests pushing for the bill that they tried and failed. The bad thing for the CPC would be that it looks like they are trying to ram down the throat of Canadians something that would go against their interests, but how much would it actually affect their chances of re-election in the fall, after the furor has died down? Given that the Canadian public seems to vote based on current events, the folks that copyright is a big issue for may well have had other issues go front and centre with respect to a voting decision.
June 04, 2008

A non voter will vote said:

A non voter will vote
ive note voted in 17 years and i will vote to what ever party doesn't support this.Does that tell you something.
You anger anyone under 40 and they come out in droves and if even 10% more youth vote it will not be antoher harper govt and it might be a very weak liberal one wiht more NDP seats.
It is up to DION how he wishes his party to be.
The next gov't or sudden stronger NDP that might make whatever comes next VERY weak with two opposition parties able to bring it down instead of needing 3.
June 04, 2008

Dave said:

\"Prorogue\"
Is that what amateur rogues become once they reach parliament?
June 04, 2008

ok said:

Re: \"a good source of information trans
Professor Geist's posts are one of the only reliable, in-depth, factual sources of information available on this issue.

If theses comment threads are becoming a rallying point for activism, it is in no way a sign of Geist's posts becoming less objective or factual ... it is simply because of the severity of the corruption we are facing and the enormous scope of consequences if we let Prentice sell us out to the U.S..
June 04, 2008

Mark said:

Opposition
I hope the Opposition can stop this bill..
June 04, 2008

a guest said:

...
US like laws don't prevent piracy. Pirates do what pirates do there is little to stop them. They are only going to hurt legit users by pushing them to the pirate world to learn to do things that they should have a right to do. example backup dvd.
June 05, 2008

AND WHEN said:

BELL CONTRACT
And when bell canada can't keep a contract to provide TV , what do you think i shall do.
Become a person whom will do from 50days, to 5.5 years in prison for watching a single tv epsisode

i say let them arrest us all for it.
When we all are in jail , they won't be able to afford the prisons.
With the GM layoffs this is a great time to start fining the hell out of everyones kids, and the parents.
When they cant afford it it is 1 day in jail for every 10$
50 days to 2000 days PER download
NICE ONE
Conservatives finally found a way to put EVERYONE in PRISON.
June 05, 2008

The opposition said:

LIBERAL PARTY
AND just remember that the liberal party of canada has the power to stop this bill.

Remember that.
NEVER FORGET IT NEXT ELECTION EITHER.
June 05, 2008

JasonN said:

U.S. Style Government
"i say let them arrest us all for it.
When we all are in jail , they won't be able to afford the prisons. "

Actually it doesn't work that way when you are employing U.S. style laws and government because Private Prisons are just constructed and it is HUGE business in the states! Great for the economy, construction workers, guards, prosecutors, judges, lawyers, police, etc. etc., all on the backs of taxpayers who help build the prisons to put themselves in, "care of" the "protect me from myself" Conservative governments! These are messed up Police State days we live in, with our rights eroding away at an exponential pace by failing governments. The Conservatives need to be eradicated ASAP, we need an election.
June 05, 2008

harper said:

Prime Advocate
Our current government has a core constituent that is simply advocating for big business at this point. The egregious thing about it is the openness and smugness by which voters are snubbed while big business receives a wink and a nudge.

In the old days complicity was assumed, now its practiced right in our faces.
June 05, 2008

PorkBellyFutures said:

...
ok wrote: "Professor Geist's posts are one of the only reliable, in-depth, factual sources of information available on this issue."

Larry Lessig's blog is far superior, and I would say Howard Knopf's blog is as well (though that wasn't always the case).

And my complaint is that this blog is far less factual than it used to be. What I see is a lot of speculation being offered up as fact, and complex problems being reduced to simplistic single causes. These are hallmarks of propagandist writing. And while that sort of emotional rallying seems to be most of what the blogosphere is about these days, it's a waste of time for those more interested in objective and informed analysis.
June 05, 2008

fair_n_hite_451 said:

How amusing
Wow. What a load of short-term memory loss we have. While I grant you that the Conservatives have botched this issue (among others), to think the Liberals would be behaving any differently if they were in power is shockingly naive.

Liberals have far more ties to big business (given their power centre is Ontario and Quebec) than the conservatives have ever had.

Like those from the States who lament the loss of the Republican party from it's "small government" roots to its now "social conservatism" core ... I look around at Canadian politics and see no party which represents my beliefs. Socially liberal (stay out of my bedroom) and fiscally conservative (small government and balanced budgets) just doesn't exist in a working political party anywhere in North America right now --- not sure about elsewhere.

Why is that?
June 05, 2008

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