The Toronto Star today featured a lengthy article by Sam Bulte titled Closing the Copyright Gap which explains her views on copyright reform (unfortunately the article is not currently online). The article makes the arguments that observers of this issue would expect: WIPO ratification is good, Canadian digital businesses are being hurt by the current framework, downloading is a major problem, and opponents of WIPO treaties "employ hyperbole and ad hominem attacks to get their message out" (sort of like Bulte's comments in the all-candidates meetings or a release she posted last week that included a blatant lie from Margaret Atwood who criticizes "so-called newspaper columnists funded as lobbyists by foreign concerns", but I digress).
In my view, the article provides perhaps the clearest demonstration of what critics of Ms. Bulte's fundraiser have argued. Not that Bulte's copyright policies are not in the best interests of Canada (which they are not), but rather that she is too closely aligned with groups from whom she accepts campaign contributions. In this case, the Bulte article is little more than a rehash of claims made in an assortment of CRIA press releases, speeches, and editorials.
While it is too much to go through each paragraph, allow me to cite just a few examples. First, Bulte spends several paragraphs on the need to ratify WIPO and argues that the Supreme Court of Canada has lamented our failure to do so. This is nonsense – the Supreme Court has actually focused on the need for balance in copyright – but that didn't stop CRIA from making these same arguments in a July 2004 release.
Second, Bulte then argues that the absence of the treaties has hamstrung Canadian digital music services. Bulte says:
"While U.S. online music ventures, such as iTunes and Napsters, are prospering because of the certainty of modern copyright laws there, Canada's legal digital music services have suffered without similar legislation. On a per capita basis, Canadian legal downloads should be the equivalent of roughly 10 percent of U.S. sales. Given Canada's relatively higher broadband penetration, the figure could be even higher. However, lacking the same legal supports, Canadians have downloaded only two percent of the amount south of the border. Why? The OECD reported in June 2005 that Canada has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of unauthorized file sharing in the world."
If the comments sound familiar, consider what CRIA said in a September 5, 2005 release (for my rebuttal back in September see CRIA and Kazaa):
"In other countries, legal music downloading services are thriving, with legions of consumers attracted by the convenience, selection and high quality that are provided. By contrast, Canada's legal digital music sales continue to be hamstrung by antiquated copyright laws and widespread Internet piracy. Digital sales in this country run at one-half of one percent of US levels, but should be in the 12 to 15 percent range given relative broadband penetration in the two countries. An Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report released in June of this year found that Canada has the highest per capita rate of unauthorized file-swapping in the world."
Third, Bulte then focuses on software piracy, arguing:
"Currently, 36 percent of all software used in this country pirated according to IDC, far greater than in the UK or the US (each at 27 percent). By not properly protecting copyright-related sectors, we place Canada's economic growth at risk. According to IDC, introducing tougher copyright legislation that resulted in a 10 percent cut to the piracy rate would create 14,000 new jobs, $8.1 billion in new economic growth"
This is what Graham Henderson, President of CRIA wrote in the Ottawa Citizen on January 9, 2006:
"Due to Canada's outdated copyright laws, theft of software is higher in this country (36 per cent of sales) than in our closest trading partners, such as the United Kingdom or the United States (both 27 per cent). Reducing theft by 10 percentage points would create 14,000 new jobs and yield $8.1 billion in economic growth"
Fourth, Bulte then searches for data on the importance of the copyright industries and states:
"In 2000, the gross domestic product (GDP) of our copyright-related sectors was $65.9 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of Canadian GDP. These sectors were growing at an average annual rate of 6.6 percent; double that of the rest of the Canadian economy."
In a speech to the National Press Club on September 29, 2005, Graham Henderson told an audience that included Ms. Bulte that:
"in 2000 the gross domestic product (GDP) of our copyright-related sectors was $65.9 billion, accounting for 7.4% of Canadian GDP. These sectors were growing at an average annual rate of 6.6%; double that of the rest of the Canadian economy."
Fifth, Bulte then cites the December 2005 CRIA-commissioned survey on Canadian views on copyright. That would be the same survey that the Ottawa Citizen ridiculed in an editorial, concluding that "we shouldn't take their surveys too seriously."
I could continue but I trust the point is clear. Citing a series of CRIA studies and editorials doesn't prove Bulte's case. It actually makes the point that critics have been raising for the past three weeks.