Copyright’s 10K

As many readers of this blog will know, last Saturday night I started a Facebook group called Fair Copyright in Canada. I sent an invitation to 100 or so "Facebook friends" in the hope that some would join and that we could create a useful resource for discussion on the upcoming Canadian DMCA.  One week later (almost to the hour), the Fair Copyright in Canada group passed the 10,000 member mark.  The group, which will hit 11,000 members a few hours after I post this, has led to hundreds of letters and phone calls to Minister Prentice, Prime Minister Harper, and MPs from every political party.  It has fostered a robust conversation among many Canadians about balanced copyright. It has served as the focal point for yesterday's remarkable meeting at Prentice's open house.  It has been a very good week.

Next week will not be as good.  On Tuesday, Prentice will rise in the House of Commons and introduce Bill C-36 or C-37 which will quickly become better known as the CDMCA.  If the initial comments are any indication, he will invoke a series of discouragingly weak justifications for a law that will cause significant harm to education, consumer interests, personal property rights, and free speech.  The House will call it quits for 2007 a day or two later.  When MPs return in late January, Prentice will bet that Copyright's 10K will have moved on to other things.

Prentice is wrong.  Copyright's 10K will be 20K or 30K or more.  It will include Canadians from all walks of life such as business people, teachers, librarians, musicians, writers, technologists, seniors, students, and soccer moms.  It will include Canadians from all political parties and all 308 ridings.  Something exceptional happened this past week.  Fair copyright in Canada found its voice.  It will be silent no more.


  1. Theo Thompson says:

    Congrats and thanks, this is a great moment for ordinary citizens mobilizing to have their voices heard, using the very medium that this bill threatens to undermine.

    Thanks again for your tireless efforts.

  2. freshwatermermaid says:

    Well done Dr. Geist,

    Let’s hope this becomes the moment when the opposition parties finally oppose something in a substantial way!

  3. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    So what you’re saying is
    Stop posting here – get over to Facebook and make an account so you can post there!

    [ link ]

    No thanks.

    Thank you for leading the charge though. It’s nice to see someone “in the know” actually doing their part to educate the rest of us and make a difference on such important matters.

  4. Theo Thompson says:

    Of course it’s no crime to post in both locations is it?

  5. I think what Canadians need to hear is that this bill will mean:

    they can’t copy a DVD or CDs to their iPod, media server, or make a backup,
    they can’t tape a favourite TV programme to watch later,
    they can’t backup their kid’s DVDs in case they get scratched or damaged,
    they can’t backup that e-book, or copy a section for research, print a bit out,
    they can’t buy cheap ink for their printer,

    It needs to be put in a way that everyone understands.

  6. Farrell J. McGovern says:

    Back at Computer, Freedom and Privacy 2000, a reporter asked me what was the most important subject being covered by the conference…I told her the DMCA…who would have thought that 7 years later that answer would still be true!


  7. I think the minister got it wrong on Saturday when he criticized people who protested before the introduction of the bill. If there are this many people concerned before we know the specifics of the proposed law, think how much stronger our determination will be once the details have been made public.

  8. Uriah Kiezlowski says:

    Firstly, thank you for all of your excellent, yeoman work Dr. Geist. Also, congrats on picking up steam with the Facebook group. I hope that the momentum is enough to cause Prentice et. al. serious pause.

    I also wanted to mention that it’s unfortunate you picked Facebook as your vehicle, because I and many others don’t trust the site even a little. It’s a commercial enterprise that has one very specific goal and that is to make as much money as possible from private user data. I choose not to participate in that endeavour.

    However, please don’t let this mild rebuke stop you. I think I understand why you chose Facebook, and in any case your success there somewhat mitigates the Hobson’s choice.

    I’m off to write my MP and MLA, and to schedule some time to visit both in person.

  9. Calling for the C.C.M.C to show up when
    what we need are the members of the coalition of Canadian music creators to show up when the Bill is being introduceed and Speak on behalf of its Music lovers

  10. SAC proposal
    I Sure hope the CDMCA is Bill Falls and I hope the SAC proposal gets in..

    Why is not MG Talking about the SAC proposal?

    Part of the SAC proposal

    7. We propose a licence fee of $5.00 per internet subscription, per month. Payment of this fee would remove the stigma of illegality from file sharing. In addition, it would represent excellent value to the consumer, since this fee would grant access to the majority of the world’s repertoire of music. Existing download subscription services generally charge considerably more than $5.00 per month, while offering a mere fraction of the file-sharing repertoire

    Link to the Full SAC proposal – [ link ]

    Hell I would even pay 10.00 extra a month to Download Music & Software.
    but then again there is the ISP that has the Trafic Shaping. so who would wanna pay that kind of tax when it would be to long to download what you want..

  11. Concerned Canadian says:

    Believe me, I’ve been trying for some time to get back on FaceBook, but I am currently unable to due to administrative reasons. I’m doing everything I can to get on there, but so far, no luck. 🙁

    I’ll keep trying to get on to join in the conversations though. 🙂

  12. Well, if this Bill C-36 or C-37 (or whatever it’s named) passes, let’s just say that deciding what party to vote for in the next election will be a slam dunk. I will NOT be voting Conservative. Nice going, Minister Prentice!

  13. After so many years they didn’t learn a thing?
    It’s clear the DMCA it’s a flawed model.
    Canadians can make it right, can show they’re open minded.
    Put one universal levy.
    Why Facebook? Like many others, I don’t trust it.
    For the time being the group is there, tomorrow might be deleted.
    Please move the group’s website somewhere else.

  14. May also endanger mechanics
    This law would also end the third-party mechanic. New cars sold into Canada would simply place DRM on their diagnostic interfaces, which only an authorized reader could read. They already try this nonsense to some extent but there are tons of workarounds. This law could make those workarounds illegal — meaning consumers will get to pay dealer fees for the most basic of service. Change the break pads, you’ll need to reset that wear sensor. Change the oil, need to change the oil service indicator… anti-circumvention laws here could be very damaging.

  15. I am very puzzled why an advocate of open communication and open systems would put a political activism site behind the walled garden that is Facebook.

    It is ridiculous that you can’t even read the page without giving a corporation your private info. This will shut out a lot of potential allies who are just trying to find out what this is all about, but couldn’t be bothered to sign up for and account just to read about it.

    I strongly support what you are doing, but there is no way I am ever going to sign up for a Facebook account to do it.

  16. Canadian Tax Payer
    Hi Michael,

    I would like to make a few points that I have considered when I heard about this new copyright law. I maybe right/wrong on these points but they are important to me. And as a Canadian tax payer, I would like know the answers to these points.

    1) Has the government even considered the effects this law will have on the environment ? If this law is implemented then it will create a whole new level of technology with copyright protection that will totally rendering current technology obsolete. If this occurs then consumers will be force to upgrade their technology and dispose of their old technology. I don’t think our environment can afford another technology upgrade.

    2) How will the law protect small copyright holders from being abused by large firms? If the large firmware protect their software with a copyright protection scheme, then the sheer attempt of investigating if your software is being used would be a violation of this law. As an example: company/individual “A” includes open source software in a product that is copy protected but does not include the source code as stipulated by the licenses. How does company/individual “B” investigate without breaking this new law that their license is being violated. From this example the law would create a shield for companies/individuals to violate other companies/individuals copyright.

    3) I would also like to know why we our creating a law to protect companies that make a bad business decision ? As an example the recording industry decides to move from records to CD’s. They do this because it is much easier to reproduce and will generate a greater profit margins. But they don’t factor in the the fact that being able easily to reproduce their product means that other individuals/companies can also do this. And now when there is a problem they come to the government to lobby them to create a new law. Why are we creating a law to compensate for a company’s bad business decision ? The copy protection in records where that they were difficult to reproduce.

    Best regards

  17. will the new canadian tivo be a legal service through a pay subscription model?

  18. Andrew Butash says:

    I am feeling much more optimistic about this new law thanks to this response to it, and we haven’t even seen it yet! Vive le Revolution!

  19. Michael Geist says:

    Facebook Questions
    Several people have questioned or objected to the use of Facebook, raising privacy or other concerns. I appreciate those concerns and fully understand why some may not want to join. I continue to use this blog as the primary source of information distribution and encourage readers to post comments and engage here as well. However, with reports this morning () that one in four Canadians are on Facebook, it is an obvious and important vehicle for educating people on the effects of the DMCA and encouraging them to take action. Whether on Facebook, the Web, or offline, in my view what matters is that people participate, not where they participate.

  20. Mark Le Blanc says:

    I just don’t get it. First, the US version of our fair dealing (their fair use) is already far broader and there are clear signs in the US of the DMCA causing, at the very least, a reduction in the fertile fields of creative development. Second, the Canadian SCC a few years ago saw that the present Canadian law on fair dealing was becoming so restrictive as to hinder creative development of intellectual property and, quite rightly, leaped past the plodding and aimless legislators to create a ‘users right’ out of fair dealing law. Now, a presumably free market oriented federal government is going to come in and throw a legislative harness on the market for the creative use and development of one key aspect of intellectual property. I would suggest that this federal government not just get bureaucratic decision makers out of the financial markets, but also get them out of the intellectual property markets.

    It’s wrong at law, it hinders development of creative thought, it’s bad business and it seems inconsistent with the stated political objectives of this federal government.

    I just don’t get it. The only answer in my mind, is that the federal government believes that copyright reform is small potatoes and far removed from the front page of political life. This is one great way to prove them wrong. Michael, keep up the great work and focus the energies of our displeasure.

  21. Do you absolutely have to use Facebook? I certainly will not go there given their propensity to spy on their “members”.

  22. No, you don’t have to use Facebook to show your digust of the law. It’s just a way to show the politicians that yes, we care. Make an account there, in your name only, with no info, and just register for that one group. There, you’ve supported the idea of no Canadian DMCA, and not released any private info.

    But the point isn’t whether or not you hate Facebook. Just make sure that somehow, on Boingboing, or on Facebook or on the Globe and Mail article here [ link ] you say “Wait, this isn’t what I want for FAIR copyright in Canada!” Speak up, fax, email, write it up to the politicians. They are our government, and they need to hear from us what we want. We want a “FAIR COPYRIGHT” law! Got that Mr. Harper et al?

  23. Does anyone know what chance Prentice’s bill has of passing? It seems safe to say that the NDP will vote against it. I can’t think of any reason why the Bloc would vote for it, but I really don’t know their stance on copyright issues in general. The big question mark seems to be the Liberals. Have they made any comments on the issue?

  24. ( NDP & Bloc = ‘Na” ) ( Lib & Con = ‘
    I think the Liberals will Vote “Ya” for it.. NDP & Bloc will Vote “Na” I say that the Liberals will say “Ya” is because the fist time of a Bill like this was the doing of the Liberals also nothing is being adressed on the Liberals learder’s Site about this issue.

  25. party lines
    Copyright generally doesn\’t align well with party lines. It comes down to how well educated the MPs of the party about technology (and how friendly they are with movie record company executives).

    The Bloc are likely to vote for this Bill. Anything that \”strengthens\” copyright is seen as a good thing by them. The level of outcry by users and creators isn\’t nearly as loud in Quebec as it elsewhere.

    The NDP will oppose.

    The Liberals tabled C-60, but that was a while ago. They certainly have many friends in the movie and music industries. On the other hand, it was their MPs that lost seats due to their support for a CDMCA, and they\’re looking for a way to get back into power, so who knows…

    Oh, and people who don\’t like facebook might want to head over to

  26. lol the Conservative are geting there ass kicked today.. so by the way it looks right now the Bill will not pass with all Partys kicking Conservative ass on other matters.

  27. SAC Proposal
    dl, if I am not mistaken there was a posting, on this blog, about the SAC proposal. A lot of people pooh-poohed it, and I think for good reason. My personal reason was, among other things, part of the reason for the recordable media levy is to compensate the artists for private copying. Since the writers are considered as artists, you should be getting a share of the money that the CPCC gets. If you aren’t, and you own the rights to the song, then bring it up with either the recording artist or the CPCC (your problem, not mine). If you don’t own the rights to the song, then why are you asking for money to compensate you for downloads?

  28. I am not a big fan of Facebook, Myspace and these other big corporate sites either…but I have posted a link to the video on the opening page of my own website. Will be writing my local MP and other politicians too…but fortunately my own MP (Jack Layton) is onside with us.