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    Copyright Is Back: Why Canada is Keeping the Flawed Digital Lock Rules

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    Thursday September 29, 2011
    Later today, the government will table Bill C-11, the latest iteration of the Canadian copyright reform bill that mirrors the previous Bill C-32. It was widely reported this fall that the government would reintroduce the previous bill unchanged, re-start committee hearings where they left off in March (with prior witnesses not asked to return), and move to quickly get the bill passed by the end of the calendar year. That seems to be what is happening with today's tabling and a new legislative committee to follow.

    Assuming it is the same bill, the government's talking points remain relevant as does its clause-by-clause analysis, both of which I obtained under Access to Information.  From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, the book that I edited on Bill C-32 that includes contributions from 19 leading copyright experts from across Canada, is still useful and is available from Irwin Law in paper or as a Creative Commons licensed download. For those looking for background information on key elements of the bill, there is my initial analysis, a five-part series on the C-32's digital lock provisions in a single PDF, a lengthy post on C-32's fair dealing reforms, data on the effectiveness of the ISP provisions, and a post that puts statutory damages into perspective.

    When Bill C-32 was introduced in June 2010, I described it as "flawed but fixable", noting that there was a lot to like in the bill but that the digital lock provisions constituted a glaring problem that undermined much of the attempt to strike a balance. Months later, those remain my views. The bill has some good provisions, but the unwillingness to budge on digital locks - even as the U.S. has created new exceptions - is easily its biggest flaw.


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    Behind the Scenes of Bill C-32: Music Copyright Collectives Say Digital Locks Won't Increase Revenue

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    Wednesday September 28, 2011
    Two of Canada's largest music copyright collectives warned the Bill C-32 committee against digital locks, arguing that it was unrealistic to think that the implementation of digital lock rules would increase music industry revenues. While there is much to take issue with in the CMRRA and SODRAC submission, the following is not among them:

    Contrary to the government's public statements, it is unrealistic to expect that the other measures contained in Bill C-32 as initiatives to implement the WIPO treaties would result in an increase in online music revenues for authors and publishers and musical works that will be sufficient to offset the revenue losses documented above. In fact, these measures would be unlikely to result in any substantial increase at all in legitimate online revenues for the music industry.

    This can best be seen by comparing the growth in sales of legal digital downloads of music in Canada with the corresponding growth pattern in the United States, where the WIPO treaties were implemented in 1998. Apple's iTunes Music Store launched in Canada in December 2004, 18 months later than in the U.S. Since then, the rate of growth of online sales in Canada has every year been much more rapid than in the United States. Nielsen SoundScan data show that, between 2005 and 2010 the sale of paid, legal downloads of individual songs or single tracks increased by 914% in Canada, compared to 232% in the U.S. Digital album sales increased 1207% in Canada, compared to 431% in the U.S.

    As a result, CSI fundamentally disagrees with the suggestion that the "modernization" measures in Bill C-32 are in any way necessary in order to improve the fortunes of the music industry.

    I have been making the case for many years that Canadian digital music sales have been growing faster than the U.S.  It is good to see that leading Canadian copyright collectives are paying attention.
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    Behind the Scenes of Bill C-32: The Committee Submissions

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    Wednesday September 28, 2011
    The new copyright bill is scheduled to be introduced tomorrow with the government planning to restart the copyright legislative committee and pick up where it left off in March when the election call killed Bill C-32 (talking points, clause-by-clause analysis of the bill). Given the plans to restart the committee, it is worth asking what the committee actually heard during months of hearings from November 2010 to March 2011. There are obviously the transcripts of the various hearings, but the detailed recommendations typically come from direct submissions to the committee. Those have not been posted online, but I did obtain copies of all unique submissions (there were hundreds of letters from individuals) to the C-32 committee. Together with Diana Cooper, a second year law student at the University of Ottawa, we reviewed all unique submissions and tried to categorize their recommendations.

    Given the number of submissions, it should come as no surprise to find that there is at least one group or person who criticizes every proposed reform and at least one that supports it. In fact, this was part of the plan. According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, department officials developed their committee witness list with a requirement that "at least one witness will strongly support every provision in the Bill" and a preference for witnesses "that have expressed an overall positive view"(though it recognized some may have negative views on certain aspects of the bill).

    A full chart of the submissions is posted below and available for download here. There is also a second chart that tracks the submissions based the specific provision available here. Digital locks are easily the top issue raised in the submissions with many submissions calling on the government to ensure that digital locks do not trump fair dealing or that the prohibition on circumvention should be linked to infringement. In addition to many individuals, group submissions supporting this position include:


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    Copyright is Back as Bill To Be Tabled on Thursday

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    Tuesday September 27, 2011
    Copyright reform is back as the government has placed the copyright reform bill on the notice paper. It is scheduled to be introduced on Thursday, alongside the privacy reform bill that also died with the March election call.

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