Confirming the Copyright Gap

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.


  1. Add Plagiarism to the List
    You kind of wish that this Bulte/CRIA link did not exist so obviously, and that a person in her position would have an independent command of the facts i.e. her own research, using whatever data that the Department of Heritage pays for from Statistics Canada and analyzes independently. That she could say at least “our studies show”, use them in articles like these, and support/contrast/diminish the private sector studies but she does not. This is even more outragious to me than the first failure to recognize a conflict of interest by taking funds or the now obvious (to me) plagiarism by an elected official.

  2. It looks like there’s a generation divide in how Canadian artists are approaching this issue. You have Atwood and Bachman on one side, and the BNL’s on the other.

  3. Bulte is a copyright violator
    Plagiarism is copyright infringement! Won’t someone think of the creators?

  4. Darryl Moore says:

    To DM: Actually plagiarism is not copyright infringement. You can plagiarize without violating copyright. For example when you buy your ethics essays online. Let’s not muddy the waters by confusing the two.


    On another note, it was an interesting irony to read Randy Bachman on Bulte’s webpage, considering this story that I heard a while back…

    Apparently at a concert in Canada shortly after returning from a US tour. Randy and the Guess Who simply started jamming on stage during part of the concert.

    After the concert, they remembered doing the jamming, but couldn’t quite remember what they did. So what did they do? They took one of the bootleg tapes that had been confiscated by security and used that to recreate the work they had jammed. “American Woman” was born. Somewhere in The Peg a bootlegger is owed big time!

  5. Robert Babiak says:

    They woner why there is not more digital purchase of music in canada.

    Look at Itunes, I own a Ipod and buy music from itunes but when i goo looking for a artist i generally can’t find what i am looking for. I will find one 3 year old album from the artest.

    But is switch to Itunes US (which I can’t purchase from because i am in canada) and i find 4 album from the artist and the song i am looking for.

    I have seen this pattern over and over again. the content is not provided in canada, not that we don’t buy it. there is nothing to buy!

    so whose fault is this, the consumer for not buying as much as the US or the producers for not supplieing the content. Last time i looked it was still illegal to copy music in canada, all they want is the big stick to try and force a digtal brodcast flag into canadian law also. i am sure this is there end goal.

    I am not a legal counsil but i believe the way canadian law is the copying of copyright material for personal use is still leagal, there is no DMCA style law that make the breaking of copy protection illegal.

    so this mean if they want stronger laws in canada they want to make us buy the content for every place we listen to it, one for hom, one for car, one for work, and one to jog to….

    Personaly what i think is that we need a law that copyright is non transferable from the original artist ever!

    This means the industry would have to license the content from the creator, not buy it and the artist would then get treated with respect fromthe music industry!

  6. link
    I wouldn’t be surprised if the submission to the Star was approved, edited or even partially written by the CRIA. Wasn’t there some word doc tracking snafu in the U.S. on some copyright legislation?

  7. Ms. Atwood’s Comments
    Mr. Geist:

    During the last debate over the current copyright legislation Ms. Atwood likened the ability to photocopy articles in a library to Car Theft. Now she is accusing you of being “funded as lobbyists by foreign concerns”? Did I get that right?

    I have to give her credit. Not only do her arguments fly in the face of reason, but she always does so with a dramatic flare (I wonder if she has been writing speeches for George Bush…but I digress!)

    Ms. Atwood last argued that artists need royalties in order to survive and so the whole Copyright Collective was born. An artist collegue of mind told me that the money he recieved from them was enought to buy a bottle of wine. In the meanwhile, the public libraries she scorned would pay writers salaries in order to have them as writers in residence. I wonder how many do so now that their costs have skyrocketed.

    As always, she lives in her comfortable world with no idea of the cost of her misinformation to artists; poor people who rely on libraries for information; and on our ability to support our researchers with affordable information that they are the very creators of. I would appreciate it if she shared her flare for the dramatic to issues she knows something about.

  8. Less Capable
    From the cited CRIA report/survey…

    “The ‘if it’s there, it’s free’ thinking extends far beyond entertainment products and software to ideas themselves,” adds Henderson, noting the rise of plagiarism in schools and universities. “As a society, we risk raising a generation less capable of creating original products of the mind that will in turn keep us at the top of the IP pyramid.”

  9. Enough with the “WIPO Please and Hurry
    Watching events as they’ve horribly unfolded in this arena over weeks now, one can only ask: How is it that politicians can get away with this crap..? Sunday’s Tor Star special by Sam Bulte is such a blatant bastardization of facts that one can only assume her initials are reversable and they stand for B S…

    Would someone please explain that NO, Ms. Bulte the “ACTUAL WIPO LIST” of countries that signed onto these treaties does NOT include Australia or ANY G8 other than Japan + USA, and looking at the EUs on the list there are precious few if any of them that one would call ‘major’ economic powers of any sort.

    Its an EASY reference website. For more information, at: and .
    Looking directly at the WIPO lists one quickly discovers NO France, NO Germany, NO United Kingdom.

    The Toronto Star should be ashamed for allowing such wrong information in their paper. They should also instruct their readers to go and look at the WIPO LISTS themselves!

    Sucn an ‘animation’ of the WIPO’s reality is the worst kind of entertainment lawyer trickery. They’ve obviously gotten away with this lie tactic long enough without having anyone check on it that even Ms. Bulte jumped in blindly adopting these WIPO country claims as fact! Er, the lady is Soooo wrong.

    FACT: There are 182 WIPO member countries, and only about 1/3 of them have signed onto these two agreements. Hardly a majority. On any grading scale these WIPO treaties are a global failure!

    What is MOST IMPORTANT for anyone in the world to ask about WIPO is: “What’s keeping the majority of countries (Canada included) FROM jumping onboard?” Perhaps it has something to do with reluctance based on a perception of “abuse of powers”? Or, maybe member countries are well-adivsed to better to “wait and see” how the digital world will evolve before jumping in pre-maturely…

    In the grand scheme of mankind the Internet is a relative ‘newborn entity’. Words in print were around for what 2,000 years before the Statute of Anne was born? Goodness, the Internet’s only been here for a couple of decades!

    So where are we?… MPs who don’t even BOTHER to check the facts… MPs who seemingly have become nothing more than a mouthpiece for special interest group’s mis-information and rhetoric… Such MPs do not deserve to have any seat where there is an expectation of a PUBLIC’S TRUST.

    END OF TODAY we can only hope that it’s over for Ms. Bulte… and end of today we must thank Michael Geist and Cory, and Matthew, and Steve, and what appears to be a growing list, for continuing to offer a most necessary “balance of view” in the ongoing copyright policy debate.


  10. Matthew Mastracci says:

    Sam Bulte – possibly defeated?
    According to canoe’s interactive map, Peggy Nash may have prevailed…

  11. Election results
    It seems that Bulte hasn’t gotten re-elected this evening:

  12. yeah for nash
    sweet – at least Bulte didn’t get re-elected

  13. She’e Out!

  14. Matthew Mastracci says:

    Congratulations Parkdale
    Well done, guys – scored one for user’s rights. I hope this sends a message to candidates in the future…

  15. Concerned Copyrighter says:

    Who will be the next CRIA stooge?
    Bulte got the jolt, and the readers of Michael Geist heave a collective sigh of relief. Things are seemingly going their way for a change. But beware… a threat is still on the horizon. Who will be the next CRIA mouthpiece to try and twist Canadian copyright laws? Michael Geist, please keep a look out for us…

  16. omnippotent speck says:

    Jully Black’s “testimonial” on the Bu
    Three things I would like to point out here: 1) I very much doubt the artist discovered by themselves that their were 2.8 million searches for their work. In all likelihood, it’s just another inflated figure fed to them by the label -oddly enough the exact same number that was said about Tom Cochrane’s works last time Bulte had him and a few other washouts jam on the Hill. The sad reality is, no-one is downloading 2.6 million of anything by Cochrane.

    2) If Jully Black had a hit single, played all summer with the huge BEP tour, and still doesn’t have enough coin to eat, maybe the fact of the matter is that their label (again the culprit) is shafting them blind through frivolous expense claims and ambiguously worded contracts. Wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened, eh Prince?

    3) Permissions aside, this same hit single mentioned, “Sweat of Your Brow” ends with a sample from Reel-2-Real & the Mad Stuntman’s 1996 hit “I like to move it, move it”. Does anyone else find it a tad hypocritical that someone bemoaning the theft, dissection, or re-mixing of creative work is in fact profiting from it themselves?