Copyright Enforcement and Local Police has posted a letter from Liberal MP and Justice critic Marlene Jennings explaining her support for Bill C-59, the anti-camcording bill. Jennings, who was working on a private members bill to address the same issue, says:

"The crux of the matter is that the relevant dispositions preventing camcording are found in the Copyright Act. However, because of its nature as a federal law, it cannot be enforced by provincial and municipal police organizations."

Jennings is not the only MP to make this claim.  Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, speaking in favour of the bill in the House of Commons, argued that the "main purpose in amending the Criminal Code instead of the Copyright Act is to ensure that local police and not merely the RCMP are engaged in an effort to stop camcording."

One problem with relying on the local law enforcement argument.  It is simply wrong.  There is nothing to stop local law enforcement from enforcing the Copyright Act.  In fact, both the CMPDA and IFPI have issued press releases over the years trumpeting enforcement actions under the Copyright Act by local police forces.  In fact, it is interesting to note the earliest press release featured on the CMPDA anti-piracy site.  It dates from 2002, advising that local Toronto police had arrested two men for camcording Star Wars in a theatre. The men were charged under the Copyright Act.


  1. Chowarmaan says:

    What a Crock
    The problem with this silly arguement is that all Federal laws are still handled by the Police whether the police are provincial or city. Murder is a Federal crime, and the Metro Police and OPP still charge people under those laws.

    When will politicians learn to read and understand before opening their mouths for the sake of speaking and hearing themselves talk, so they may feel important.

  2. Self Justifying Sound Bites
    We see so much of this all the time. The constant spew of misinformation to baffle and batter the public mindset to accept legislation that is sold under one rubric when it is actually intended for far deeper consequences. I suspect these spouting politicians are (at best) naive and merely mouthing from the talking points that have been handed to them by their superiors. If they actualy believe this crap then they are morons. What remains is just lies, more lies and damned lies.

    Keeping up this kind of comparison to what is said and what is real is most important. Thank you, Mr. Geist. It would be wonderful to see more of this make its way into the mainstream press but they seem to be speaking from the same talking points and are only too happy (or too lazy) to do anything other than spout the same falsehoods.

  3. midlantan says:

    Any clue as to what might be causing or maintaining the confusion on this issue? While I’m sure that some people making this argument know that in fact local police in Canada have the authority to enforce federal law, these comments are being repeated without challenge in the press and in discussions among policymakers without challenge. I understand that the U.S. lawyers in lobbyists who’ve been pushing for a Canadian camcording provision might think the Criminal Code/Copyright Act distinction is important, given the sharper federal distinctions made in US law (in the U.S. state and local police generally do not have authority to enforce federal laws). But Canadian lawyers wouldn’t be confusing Canadian law with US law. Is there some other plausible reason why it makes a difference to the (Canadian) advocates of the camcording bill that the camcording stuff be in the Criminal Code and not in the Copyright Act ? Does it offer any advantages for enforcement? For example, is there some sort of general practice or unwritten rule among local police that laws outside the Criminal Code don’t get enforced except under special circumstances?

    Or is the only reason to take camcording out of the copyright context to divorce camcording from the copyright defenses that might otherwise be available?

  4. Just to clarify, the difference being discussed as to why there is a distinction regarding enforcement of Federal Acts versus the Criminal Code. The Copyright Act is a federal Act enforced by the RCMP, while the Criminal Code is for all law enforcement to use as needed.

    The argument to move these offences involves the response by law enforcement. The RCMP doesn’t have uniformed police officers in every city, or even every province, so having them enforce the Copyright Act to deal with this issue makes no sense. As with other offences that are “in progress” such as shoplifting, the local police are best equiped to respond as they are working on the streets to respond to these matters.

    A similar distinction is seen in Immigration matters. The RCMP immigration sections would investigte these matters, but the criminal code allows any peace officer to arrest someone on an immigration warrant. The distinction is that the local police will not investigate the immigration to begin with, they would send the person to the RCMP.

    It is confusing at times, but these arrangements are made all the time and noboby is lying to you, they just aren’t explaining the issue very well.

    There are also issues with

  5. Just wanted to add, Michael you should know better than to suggest because someone is charged with an offence as you indicated means it was the appropriate offence.

    If you read the site again, you’ll notice shortly after that press release things started to change.

    For almost the last 2.5 years local police, mostly the Toronto police, have only been charging with Fraud, which is a Criminal Code offence.

    There are several reasons for this which you failed to explore.

    The earlier cases in 2002 were all thrown out by the courts or stopped by the Crown. In fact, most of the 2002 charges were laid in error as copyright and were changed to Fraud when possible.

    There are things stopping the local police from charging with certain offences which I need not explain here, but needless to say, these are legitimate barriers that exhist so that there aren’t parallel investigations going on with the RCMP, the provincial police and the local police for the same offenders and the same offences.

  6. What a load os BS
    This sounds like yet another attempt by idiot politicians to pass a law on behalf of those who line their pockets best.

    Have you ever seen a cam movie? They absolutely suck. Anyone who is willing to watch a cam to avoid paying to see a movie in a theatre, was never going to the theatre to begin with. And this doesn’t even begin to address the problem with Telesyncs, as well as Cinema personnel themselves camming the movies in a closed theatre.

    I’m getting tired of the copyright dogs panting about how they are losing all this money to piracy. The big problem is, if you want people to buy things, you have to stop making crap. That’s the reason records and movies don’t sell these says. Did you ever see “The Darkness?” If not, go rent it and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself back in the rental store asking for a refund.

    Just my $0.02