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Speak Out on Copyright: The Bill C-32 Edition

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Monday January 17, 2011
Last month, the Bill C-32 Legislative Committee invited Canadians to provide their views on the bill.  The Committee has set the following parameters:

In order for briefs on Bill C-32 to be considered by the Committee in a timely fashion, the document should be submitted to the Committee’s mailbox at CC32@parl.gc.ca by the end of January, 2011. A brief which is longer than 5 pages should be accompanied by a 1 page executive summary and in any event should not exceed 10 pages in length.

Thousands of Canadians have spoken out many times on copyright reform, but it is important to do so once more.  Bill C-32 is a better bill than its predecessors and with some tinkering would be a bill worth supporting.  I've written regularly with my views:
For a more detailed examination of C-32 and Canadian copyright, I edited From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, a book published in October 2010 that includes 20 essays on a wide range of copyright reform issues.  The book is available in paper version or as a free Creative Commons licenced download.

Even if you have spoken out before - an email or letter to your MP, a letter to the Ministers, a submission to the copyright consultation, or a posting online - it is important to speak out again.  Make sure the committee studying Bill C-32 hear from Canadians about the importance of maintaining a fair approach that does not result in digital locks trumping consumer rights and that advances fair dealing for the benefit of creators, consumers, education, and business.  As noted above, the committee will accept comments until January 31, 2011.
Comments (19)add comment

Kevin Main said:

Digital locks should not trump consumer rights.
January 17, 2011

genoki said:

Ugh .. I am not sure what to think. I've read your Toronto Star summary you linked above. Thank you.

But, frankly, when you say: "Bill C-32 is a better bill than its predecessors and with some tinkering would be a bill worth supporting. " that makes me think that it might be ok.

After all, you aren't outright denouncing it so it can't be that bad right?

I am not ashamed to say that I need you, the expert with all the details and my interests in mind, to please provide me with a pithy 'soundbite' to sway me to action. I am totally serious. Thanks.
January 17, 2011

Jake said:

Michael, it would help if you referred to the specific sections of Bill C-32 that focus on digital locks.
January 17, 2011

Boothie said:

genoki, I still don't have any answers either
What is, and what is not, a legal entertainment service? (Graboid? Grooveshark?) What is, and what is not a legal tool? (is VLC? it's being kicked off of some app. stores) Can I record from my sound card?

So, I can share music with my wife, but not with my oldest boy who lives somewhere else, how does that make moral sense? If I get a letter from somebody saying I owe, how do I know that it's a legitimate letter? (There have been frauds!) If I leave my wi-fi on (which is the ONLY way that I can get it to work with my ipad, my wife's laptop and my kid's android thingy.) and somebody commits an "information crime" on it, will I be charged?
No, I'm afraid I cannot support "updating" Canada's copyright laws for the Internet age with a law that is "at least not as bad as the last one".
January 17, 2011

gtron said:

this here canadian made a film in 2002 about this faulty DMCA, it's called The Infringement: a Comedy in One (dmc)Act
congrats Michael on your efforts!
January 17, 2011

David said:

I agree with the above posts. I find Michael's tone has changed from the beginning of this debate. Originally his focus was on the problems with C-32, now C-32 just needs a bit of "tinkering". This is a bad stance in terms of negotiation strategy.
January 17, 2011

Fin said:

There was a tax put on items such as blank cds,dvds and any equipment that can burn movies and songs years ago that everyone seems to have forgotten about. This was supposed to go to the various industries to make up for losses. If C-32 passes will they remove the tax I don't think so.
January 17, 2011

Michael Geist said:

Couple responses

The link to digital lock rules above goes to a five part series of posts specifically on the issue. I suggested potential reforms at



I think my tone has been pretty consistent. If you read my first post on C-32, I described it as flawed but fixable. I argued that the bill contained many positive provisions, but that the digital lock rules were enormously problematic. That remains my view.

January 17, 2011

Mark said:

I already sent a letter objecting to C32. This was approximately one month ago.

I got a form letter response, pointing out all the numerous ways that C32 was a good thing.

I am more convinced than ever that our government does not give a jack what Canadians think. I don't even know if they bothered to actually read my letter.

And right now, I don't think even the threat of non-reelection would convince them to back off on this, or to reach what Mr. Geist has been saying for quite some time could be a quite workable compromise. And if C32 passes, it's going to be good to go, and it's going to be *VERY* hard to get rid of for a long enough period that their agenda of trying to push this through will still be partially met, which is to satisfy the demands being made upon them by certain commercial and international corporations. If it doesn't pass... then they'll just scrap it, go back to the drawing board, and come up with something that's even worse... making it increasingly less likely that any compromise could actually be achieved that would actually treat consumers fairly in a digital age. And they'll just keep on doing this - over and over and over again - until they are fortunate enough to get a majority government, at which point they will pass whatever the damn hell they want, without any regard whatsoever for what Canadians think, and even more importantly, without any regard for what is actually a genuinely good and just law.
January 18, 2011

DJ Rouse said:

In Canada we have always maintained that once we pay for something it's ours to keep. I recently read a judges opinion and it was pretty much this. " we should not only have the right to back up what we pay for rightfully but we should also be able to convert it to whatever format we please and arange it in the playlist we choose. over Protection has resulted in there being a very limited number of Labels that pick up artists , which in my opinion is very much leading to a payola system where if you don't play what we want to sell we drop your band and your radio station ... " its VERY true ...
January 18, 2011

Bill Wittur said:

Will P2P Save DRM?
I recently read in Rolling Stone that content that's been saved in digital formats over the last two decades is proving to be 'non-retrievable' as the disks and other storage devices have stopped functioning properly.

With this in mind, we're faced with the possibility that a powerful argument for ALLOWING file transfers and P2P storage of media is that it will help preserve and save the content. As long as it's on the web, it will be duplicated and therefore, salvageable.

I expanded on these thoughts here:
(With apologies for the shameless plug for myself)

DRM potentially negates this possibility.
January 18, 2011

Kurt Laitner said:

We needn't worry either way. The record industry's business model is broken, and will die with it. Music will be distributed from producer to consumer in a way that benefits both. There is no need for monopoly centralized distribution. Only people who are extracting value need laws to enforce their rights. Those who add value are rewarded without reservation.
January 18, 2011

JM DA said:

This subject seems quite complex and I wouldn't know where to start without having read hundreds of pages of information. It would have made more sense to me if there had been a straightforward survey with representative questions on the various parts of the bill to gather feedback from ordinary Canadians who don't follow this stuff closely. My only other comment is that I don't trust the government as I fear they'll be trying to appease the Americans and their lobbyists.
January 19, 2011

JM DA said:

This subject seems quite complex and I wouldn't know where to start without having read hundreds of pages of information. It would have made more sense to me if there had been a straightforward survey with representative questions on the various parts of the bill to gather feedback from ordinary Canadians who don't follow this stuff closely. My only other comment is that I don't trust the government as I fear they'll be trying to appease the Americans and their lobbyists.
January 19, 2011

Patricia said:

Copyright is a lost cause
Copyright was imposed by "the Church" and ruling powers centuries ago to control thought and knowledge. That is still the case. Rather than strenghtening the laws, they should be abolished. They want to stop the spread of information because information gives people power. There is no way I can support this Bill C32.
January 19, 2011

James K. Phillips said:

Science Fiction question
@Jake The bill does not actually discuss "digital locks" at all; that phrase is from the over-simplified press-release.

Question: is anyone aware of "Hard" Science fiction where strong "copy protection" is either an accepted part of the universe or a plot device?

For example, in "Star Trek" (soft science fiction), transporter technology implements strong copy protection. In episodes where somebody is copied via a transporter accident, the two transporters involved somehow loose communication. This "move but not copy" principle also applies to active holograms in the holodeck. For example, in many "Star Trek Voyager" episodes, the ability to move but not copy the (electronic) doctor is central to the plot.

PS: For those the don't know, "copy protection" does not work in the real world. Even the firms marketing the technology claim it is only intended to stop casual copying. One major reason it does not work is that computers and the Internet would be impossible to implement without copying.
January 22, 2011

John Casey said:

Get Everything You Want to Download Now!!!
I have worked in two government offices. These bumbling retarded idiots can't get anything done right. Bill C-32 will merely stop the weak, cause the real pirates will find ways around anything. Every type of copy protection in the past has either been hacked and exploited or has been so strong that it caused issues for all consumers and had to be abandoned. Let the government and the fat cat recording and movie execs have their hissy fit, roll around on the floor crying and kicking their feet and soon they will come to realize the only way to save either industry is to bring back good movies, not ones where FX are used in place of a good story...AND FOR GOD SAKES GET RID OF FUCKING MIND NUMBING REALITY TV!!!
January 22, 2011

Mary Hemmings said:

Chair, CALL Copyright Committee
The Canadian Association of Law Librarians have already submitted a response to the Consultations this past summer.
Will the consultation documents that are buried effectively
be considered in view of the Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 call for more briefs.
I'm confused. Isn't that what the public consultations were all about?
January 25, 2011

Mary Hemmings said:

Chair, CALL Copyright Committee
Canadian Association of Law Libraries has already submitted a consultation document.
Are we to follow up with a brief?
January 25, 2011

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