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Canadians Speaking Out on Bill C-32: Only Five Days Left

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Thursday January 27, 2011
The House of Commons resumes next week with hearings on Bill C-32 likely to pick up where they left off in December.  As I noted last week, the Bill C-32 committee has invited Canadians to provide their views on the bill in email submissions due no later than January 31, 2011.  The call for comments has attracted some attention, leading to some posting their responses online:

A reminder that 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.

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.
Comments (16)add comment

pat donovan said:

comments submitted
my usual incoherant ditribe got posted out; since i'm against the extenstions to property, they'll get ignored.
the CRTC seems to be locking down the web to major players; between the printing press and Ghenis Khan, we need a 'bloodbath' revolutionary stage breaker to come up.

the information revolution needs more than a banking hack to recreate itself here. freedom is the answer, control the solution.

if this is a jungle, web tv isn't the answer.that's gatekeeping via copyrights.

(wishful thinking dept) Content is. not idiots, explosions and falling anvils.

packrat

January 27, 2011

Jason K said:

...
a) There's about 99.9% probability that we are headed to an election before this committee wraps up

b) Thousands of Canadian Consumers have already wrote into the copyright consultations. My voice was heard there as well.

Each party has already released their stance on copyright and net neutrality issues. I will be voting according to those platforms. I do not need to voice my concern once again to our representatives. If they haven't got the message by now from Canadian consumers, they won't. Speak with your votes, make it an election issue!


January 27, 2011

john said:

...
So much time and money wasted with this bill... Not only does the committee have enough work until next summer, but everything will be cancelled out by a more than probable election - that is of course if the NDP doesnt whore itself out to Harper.
January 27, 2011

Taylor Cutforth said:

Adding internal Expiration Dates to DMA Locks
[Unimportant side note: I just posted this in another blog post of yours earlier today. I should of done so here instead as this is the most recent place to do so.]

I've sent an email to the committee regarding this.

If Victor Hugo was alive today I think he would weigh into account the concept of artificial scarcity and expect the copyrights to not hold as much length as say 50 years! Which in itself is ancient in the digital world.

Something closer between 5, 10 or 15 years seems more appropriate depending on the content and its usage or purpose. Films can require a whole host of cost and contracts to be arranged in order to fulfill the desired goal of what the content creator is trying to achieve. The fault lines of success line more in their overambitious ideas than necessarily the potential costs from someone downloading their work. Assuming that would of been a genuine customer in the first place. Authors who have who accept donations to their projects and have unset prices have been able to fair well even without enforcing their copyrights on those to check out their work from downloading it. With the use of unset prices a creator can receive a few cents per purchase or a few grand out of support.
Using the DMA Expiration, they could charge whatever they like or need for the first 5 to 15 years then move on to unset prices or none at all.

5 to 10 years is still along time to wait for some, but creators & producers need to be able to not only get a return on their investments, not having to directly compete with their own content released only a couple years prior. Having to compete with free content that was previously released does force creators to make more than just artificial or cosmetic tweaks to their software, but to go the extra mile to build loyalty to with their customer base. Relying less on the established formulaic processes of aiming for the lowest common denominators. Having to top yourself helps to raise the bar and specialize in the quality of content rather then units sold. As software continues to get easier for creators to utilize, running out of ideas will be the least of their worries.

Free market capitalist are pro-competition not monopolization, which can come from both governments and the private sector. It's more of a crony-capitalist view that props up the established businesses who have been around for a long time; that seeks to expand & exploit copyright law beyond it's legitimate range of use.

Arguments for higher ranges (20 to 30 years) miss the point in that for the past generation (or three) most companies still get by without much enforcement as it is. If their biggest financial worry is getting the most out of copyright laws than they have few financial problems indeed. Particularly compared to the bulk of people they hope to enforce against.

At any rate, theres no need to make partisan attacks since the file has been left to cabinet ministers Clement and Moore. Unseating those MP's would make more sense that to change the entire government only to get the same results by some other group. Including even the NDP unless isolation and protectionism is at the top for their agenda.

One could make the argument that--if the conservative party had all the seats in parliament, the different dividedly united libertarian capitalist groups within the party would be hashing this for & against copyrights in both directions.
If there were such groups amongst the currently elected opposition the same effect could be accomplished without brinkmanship. I personally don't see that to be the case nor expect to.

Either way it really serves no good to make this about party politics no matter which way you look at it.
January 27, 2011

Taylor Cutforth said:

The email that was sent.
---- My email to "CC32@parl.gc.ca" is as follows:

Hello,

Allow me to cut to the chase.

DRM locks should have expiration internal dates. So when the copyrights are no longer enforceable the DRM unlocks or are legal to break. Preferably the former.

It would be a reasonable compromise to consider the addition of expiration dates on some digital locks.
The basis for DRM Expiration is in regards to distribution rights i.e copyrights.
50 years is ancient in the digital age. To this day no digital content is 75 years old... Think about that for a moment.
20, 15, or 10 years is a long time in the digital world.
Arguments can be made to both extend, or shorten those time frames.
I'll keep mine fairly brief, so as to spur discussion for others to discern and expand upon.

The numbers I'll start with throughout writing this will begin at the shortest possible length. Leaving room for others to argue in the direction for longer ones.

To aid both industry and innovation, while providing healthy competitiveness, and preserving/expanding the open source communities both on, and off the net.
This should help to establish the right balance that pleases all sides of the debate.

Here are my suggestions for which you may tweak and adjust, or use as general guide lines as you discuss the issue in full.

General Software Industry: 4 to 10 years.
Film Industry: 8 to 15 years.
Gaming Industry: 5 to 10 years.
Music Industry (For song or audio files and etc): 18-to-24 months with a maximum of 8 years. This would be a grayer area to sort out. Soundtracks, sound effects, etc. Share a natural relationship with the content they were created for. Perhaps thats between the authors.

These numbers should be a workable starting point. This will still enforce against producers having their work be leaked, or ripped before it is even complete and while it is still clearly in its initial circulation.
50 years is too long. My numbers may seem too short. It's your job to find and discuss the appropriate balance.
An additional option would be as follows;
You could even receive a small revenue source from those who wish to have longer locks on their digital properties as one method to cover the cost of enforcement. Or not. That point may be redundant.

Expiration dates should keep companies on their toes, and keep a leveled playing field while protecting against stagnant monopolization. 50 years to create and collect revenue is an absurdly long time. Especially when speaking in terms of distribution rights and not intellectual ones.
Going too far in the other direction hurts the financing on larger projects beyond what smaller operations are typically capable of. In such cases, improvisation and adaption to challenge forces both artists, and producers, to invent new ways of achieving their ambitious goals. Inventing new methods of creating in the process. Long established companies at the top lose sight of this process and begin to dwindle, it's no wonder after loosing their inspiration they set themselves upon their competition.

The digitalization of content should free up creators from middle men meddling in their craft. Placing a priority on copyright law, in this instance, over intellectual rights doesn't help the creation process. DRM Expiration helps to remedy that imbalance. Why do the middle men of the past take center stage and not the rights of the artists themselves?

Why burden the legal system with frivolous lawsuits from laws that were intended to halt criminal activities? Not generally accepted practices that are over a generation old. Or force heavy handed uneven fines that don't fit the trespass on practices that came into place because the copyrighters became too complacent and slow to adapt.

DRM EDs puts the competition back into the hands of the original content creators, and emphasis away from the hangers-on who've milked the process too hard. Distributors (copyrighters) don't have to lose their relevancy if they are as willing to adapt as their content creators are. This frees up lawyers to prosecute actual criminal pirates who sell their goods to make cash illegally.

Something is wrong with aspects of the current bill and should be addressed. And if other countries still find the idea of DRM Expiration Dates not to their standards, then perhaps it is they who should re-examine the issue in their respective countries and in the process bring the issue before their population before telling us what to do with ours.


Thank you and good day.

~ Taylor Cutforth
January 27, 2011

SI said:

Prof.
Meera Nair is a sessional instructor at SFU, not a Professor. She teaches one introductory CMNS course.
January 27, 2011

Adam said:

stifle with a muzzle
Hey great way to crush digital innovation CRTC! Way to get in bed with your broadcast lovers and perform for them any old trick, you dirty old dog, you. I for one will be "peacefully" fighting this the whole way. I'll vote for anyone who is against it. I'll call my ISP and bitterly complain... repeatedly. You won't be getting away with this.
January 27, 2011

Programmer, author, and linux user said:

@SI
> Meera Nair is a sessional instructor at SFU, not a Professor. She teaches one introductory CMNS course.

In any case, it would be appropriate to refer to her as Dr. Nair, since she has a doctorate (http://fairduty.wordpress.com/about/).

I think her website is an excellent resource -- I highly recommend it.
January 28, 2011

IamME said:

...
My submission to the commitee was made some time ago, but here it is.

--snip--

As all of you know C-32 has been an extreme contentious issue. Much of the problem I see with C-32 is that it seems it was largely formed behind closed doors, under intense pressure from international lobbies. To make matters worse it seems those who developed this bill did so without the consult of someone who actually understands of the technology. I'll avoid pointing fingers or making accusations here though I have some strong feelings toward that. I'll also avoid getting too deep in to the technology. I'm not looking to waste your time, so from one who has been in the computer scene since before public Internet I'd just like to list a few points...

* As we've seen with the failure of the DMCA in the US and their recent move to include breaking TMPs for lawful purposes, TMPs at the private consumer level are useless at best and can generate further disrespect for copyright. Added to that, it makes millions of Canadians law breakers right off the bat, and most won't magically stop them from doing things they've done for years just because of this bill. Many younger Canadians know no different. TMPs really are a licensing issue and have no place in copyright, but WIPO says it has to be there, so adding the clause "one may only break a TPM for lawful purposes" would be sufficient and still WIPO compliant.

* As an extension and serious misuse of TPMs, one of my personal favorites is the assertion by Danielle LaBossiere Parr of The Entertainment Software Association of Canada that digital locks are needed to prevent "cheating" at games that "gives other players unfair advantages.” Cheating at games?!?!?!? That's the best she could come with? That is so ridiculous as to be laughable. This is a licensing issue and should be dealt with by the software owner and the EULA. This has no place in C-32.

* Again with TPMs on the issue of backups. In the presence of a TPM it would be illegal for me to make backup copies of content I purchase on-line. This is ridiculous since makes it illegal for me to protect my investment. As a smokescreen, they say they don't use TPMs anymore and that might even be true in the US, however most of the content available to Canada on Napster, iTunes and much of the content on Puretracks is still DRM protected. I have to break the locks just to play it on my wife's MP3 player. Should this be illegal?

* The decision to make out-of-region content illegal is unfortunate and perhaps even discriminatory. I'm one who enjoys foreign movies and while I don't import many I do once in a while and only import content I cannot get here. I have many friends from Europe who import far more than I so they can get local movies and TV shows in their own language, again, content they cannot and will likely never be able to get here. I can understand blocking imports of something like Ironman or Harry Potter, things readily available here, but to block all foreign content is wrong.
January 28, 2011

IamME said:

...conintued...
* Has careful consideration been given to unexpected consequences of this bill? A prime example that comes to mind is the Skylink Technologies case back in 2003. Was DMCA ever intended to protect garage door openers? The case was only dismissed on a technicality. Others are worried about the computers in cars and the effect C-32 might have on universal code readers.

* "Circumvention" tools should not be illegal. Using them to perform illegal acts should be illegal. Owning a gun, a tool where the primary purpose is to kill, is not illegal, but shooting your neighbor is. On top of that, there is no way to control the spread of such tools. For instance... VLC Media Player is a free, open source media player and is one of the most widely used media players in the world. It will play virtually any file format, out of region disks and DVDs. With the release of the BluRay encryption master key, I suspect it will soon be able to play BluRay as well. deCSS is also a free, open source application used to play DVDs under Linux. Such tools would become illegal under C-32, but they won't magically disappear from the web and are easily and legally available from dozens of web sites along with any torrent provider.

* On the issue of levies, the only comment I have is that if private copying becomes illegal then the collection of the levy becomes revenue collected as a result of an illegal act...money laundering. The CRIA cannot have their cake and eat it too.

* This bill needs to protect consumers from copyright trolls. Throw the book, hell throw the whole library at commercial offenders, but consumer, private use offenders should have some degree of protection against ridiculous disproportionate law suits. Please stand your ground on the $5000 cap for non-commercial infringement. This is not a "license to steal" as some would have us believe and is still a lot of money for most people, especially in these tight financial times.

In closing, as I said I've been around the computer scene a long time and I've experienced the pirate scene first hand. This will do nothing to stop those at the commercial level. These people are extremely experience at hiding their footprints. TPMs are easily broken and true pirates will continue to do so in light of whatever law is instituted. In light of the DMCA and HADOPI where piracy is at an all-time high in their respective countries, we should be looking to avoid the same mistakes. These should be considered failures. Laws like this, at least as written, only hurt "mostly honest" consumers and will cause further resentment and further infringement, just like DMCA and HADOPI.

Consumers have spoken; they want ease and convenience, not locks and hindrances. That being said consumers aren't afraid to pay for it. On the contrary, they simply want to feel respected and that they're getting something for their money. The "Steam" application by the Valve Corporation is basically an on-line game store that delivers retail games over the Internet and has almost as many users as Playstation or XBox. Steam has been extremely successful in adjusting to a digital reality and it really shows.
January 28, 2011

Chris said:

...
I sent my letter to my MP and many other's in charge of Bill C-32... this is what I got in return from my MP.

"Dear Mr. *********:
Thank you very much for your recent email regarding copyright policy.

My colleague, the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and I are pleased to inform you that the Government of Canada has introduced legislation to modernize the Copyright Act, bringing it up to date with the advances of the digital age.

This legislation will bring Canada in line with international standards and promote home-grown innovation and creativity. It is a fair, balanced, and common-sense approach, respecting both the rights of creators and the interests of consumers in a modern marketplace. The federal government is working to secure Canada's place in the digital economy and to promote a more prosperous and competitive country.

The popularity of Web 2.0, social media, and new technologies such as MP3 players and digital books have changed the way Canadians create and make use of copyrighted material. This bill recognizes the many new ways in which teachers, students, artists, software companies, consumers, families, copyright owners and many others use technology. It gives creators and copyright owners the tools to protect their work and grow their business models. It provides clearer rules that will enable all Canadians to fully participate in the digital economy, now and in the future.

For more information, please visit www.balancedcopyright.gc.ca.

Once again, thank you for writing and please accept my best wishes.

Earl Dreeshen, MP
Red Deer"
January 28, 2011

LC said:

...
I got the same exact letter from Bob Dechert.
January 29, 2011

George Geczy said:

...
My submission to the C-32 committee, reflecting my views as a video game software developer, and pointing out why the C-32 digital lock protections are bad for many Canadian "Content Creators" as well...

www.battlegoat.com/downloads/Copyright201011-Comments.pdf

Of course I also find it amusing that the Government points to lack of TPM protections as being a detriment to innovation and digital progess, yet our greatest roadblocks are the comparatively poor and expensive internet services we have available, only getting worse with usage-based-billing changes.
January 31, 2011

Mark said:

...
I got the exact same letter from Tony Clement and James Moore when I sent mine straight to the legislative committee on Bill C-32 at the beginning of December. Except for the names at the bottom and that the paragraph mentioning "My colleague, the Honourable James Moore..." is not present in the response I received, the remaining text is word-for-word identical to the above.

It is blatantly obvious to me that the conservatives are not willing to compromise on this issue, even though the other parties are insisting on it. The result is that the bill will be scrapped, and the conservatives will go back to the drawing board and come up with something many, many times worse. And they will keep on doing this, indefinitely... until they get that majority government they are hoping for, and then all of the objections won't matter one jot.
January 31, 2011

Andrew Robulack said:

Over-Use Fee Correction
Great piece, but there's one important correction required. You cite $5 as being the high-water mark for over-use fees in Canada. In fact, everyone who lives in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, northern BC and northern Alberta, pays $10 per GB in over-use charges to the regulated monopoly carrier, Northwestel, a fully-owned subsidiary of Bell.
February 04, 2011

buy clomid said:

good chat
Then I guess, should this be included, we'll know exactly where our government stands and plans to go on the issue. Hopefully the artists' lobbies gain some attention as well. buy clomid
September 23, 2011

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