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    CBC Business Network on Canadian DMCA

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    Friday June 13, 2008
    I appeared on the CBC's Business Network this morning to discuss Bill C-61.
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    Catching Up on the Canadian DMCA Coverage

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    Friday June 13, 2008
    The amount of coverage and discussion about the Canadian DMCA has simply been overwhelming.  You can view the actual introduction of the bill, local TV coverage, and national TV coverage.  You can read mainstream media coverage (Globe, National Post, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun, CBC), wire services coverage (UPI, Reuters, CEP), online media coverage (Ars Technica, Techdirt), newspaper editorials (Toronto Star supports the introduction), and commentary pieces (mine, Terence Corcoran's in the National Post).  You can read Industry Minister Jim Prentice's quick reference in the House of Commons to support from copyright lobby groups and the support itself (music industry, BSA, ACTRA).  You can read the comments from groups that oppose the bill (Canadian Library Association, Canadian Music Creators Coalition, Documentary Organization of CanadaCIPPIC, Appropriation Art). You can read commentary from profs (Trosow, Murray) and bloggers (Ingram, Doctorow, McOrmond, CopyrightWatch) and screenwriters (Hey Writer Boy).  You can also read the bill.

    And when you're done reading, start speaking out.
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    Report Says Canadian DMCA To Include $500 Fine Per Download

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    Tuesday June 03, 2008
    The National Post reports that the Canadian DMCA, which may be introduced tomorrow, will include a "personal use download" fine of $500.  The front page story indicates that the fine (presumably a new form of statutory damage award) could be awarded on a per infringement basis, leading the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in liability for file sharing.  This provision has been rumoured for some time and may be designed to reduce the maximum possible awards, since the current statutory damages provision provides for damage awards of up to $20,000 per infringement. 

    Some sources say that it comes as a result of Prentice's concern that the Conservatives could be tied to huge damage awards against teenagers for peer-to-peer file sharing. If that is indeed the case, it is not clear how this provision will solve that concern.  While there are still many questions about this provision (does it target downloading or uploading? does it exempt sound recordings covered by the private copying levy?  is the $500 a set amount or a maximum? is it per infringement or cover all activity?  does it require actual evidence that files made available are downloaded?), consider a case involving 1000 song files, not an unusually high number.  The "retail" value of those files is roughly $1000, yet on a per infringement basis the Prentice proposal could lead to a damage award of $500,000. Even small scale cases would lead to huge awards - 50 songs could lead to a $25,000 fine.  Ironically, the prospect of huge damage awards comes as Canadian musicians and songwriters have both rejected lawsuits against individuals.  If Prentice hopes that the provision reduces the concern associated with file sharing lawsuits, this move may actually have the opposite effect.

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    The Unofficial Canadian DMCA Background Document

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    Monday June 02, 2008

    Multiple sources advise that Industry Minister Jim Prentice's current plan is to introduce the Canadian DMCA this week, likely on Wednesday.  While things could change, it would appear that Prentice's communication strategy is to do as little communicating as possible. Plans for a possible press conference have apparently been put on hold given concerns that the press might actually ask questions and Prentice has even entertained thoughts of shuffling the bill quickly to a committee for summer hearings so that he would not have to deal with the issue all summer long. The Minister will also head for Japan and South Korea late the following week as part of the OECD Future of the Internet Economy conference, so out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

    What do we get instead?  Likely a press and MP briefing in a lockup just prior to the release of the bill, which will probably happen later in the afternoon (government bills are tabled after 3:00 on Wednesdays) to minimize the opportunity for critical comment in the immediate news cycle. While Prentice presumably hopes that this is a one-day story, my guess is that he is wrong.  There is no local open house this time round, but Prentice is planning his annual Calgary Stampede breakfast for July 5th.  Further, the OECD is inviting anyone to pose comments or questions about the Internet directly to the Minister on its YouTube page with the Ministers asked to react to the best videos at the OECD conference in South Korea.

    Given the apparent effort to control the media spin, I thought it would be useful to anticipate the likely talking points in the Canadian DMCA backgrounder along with a broader perspective featuring things Prentice probably won't say.  These include: 


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