Prentice’s Moment

In the past 24 hours, Industry Minister Jim Prentice has delayed introduction of the Canadian DMCA, faced questions about the lack of broad consultation during Question Period in the House of Comments (transcript, video), and the media has picked up the growing interest of thousands of Canadians in fair copyright (CBC, Canadian Press, National Post, Ottawa Citizen).  Forty-eight hours after I posted Copyright's 10K, the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group has nearly become Copyright's 15K as it continues to expand by the minute, complete with hundreds of postings, conversations, and sample letters.

While there is now considerable celebration about the CDMCA's delay, in my view such celebration is premature.  The decision to delay the bill is the right one, but it could still reappear within the next few days (indeed, Dierdre McMurdy reports that that is the hope).  Even if the delay stretches into 2008, a delayed bill that does not feature a genuine copyright balance is little better than the bill that was to have been unveiled today.  For those concerned with fair copyright, I believe this means that they must continue to press for balanced copyright by writing to the Ministers, their MPs, their provincial Ministers of Education, as well as to their University Presidents and school district leaders.

For the Industry Minister, there is an opportunity to turn this into a political and policy win.  He has seen first hand the passion of Canadians who seek balanced copyright.  He can now turn to the thousands of Canadians who have written and called over the past 10 days and invite them to participate in an open consultation process.  The government should use the next six weeks to develop a consultation paper that outlines its preferred approach and invite all Canadians to comment.  A winter consultation could lead to a new bill by late spring, still offering the chance to reform Canadian copyright law in 2008.  While there has been considerable criticism leveled at Prentice, this is the same man who two weeks ago did the right thing on the wireless spectrum auction by putting the interests of consumers first.  He now has the chance to put the interests of all Canadians first by launching a copyright consultation early next year.


  1. Consultation is pointless unless it is listened to and acted upon.

  2. John Lawford says:

    Counsel – PIAC
    Why do I see “An Act to Amend the Copyright Act” as item no. 1 on today’s Order Paper??

  3. How many times in the past decade have their been “consultations”? I’m still waiting for action on what PCH and IC heard in the 2001 “consultation”. I was also not impressed with the “consultation” that took place on the Lucy Maud Bill.

    “Consultation” may be a smokescreen to justify the DMCA when it is brought forward. They can turn around and say, “hey, we consulted, and Writer’s Union loves our bill, piss off and shut up.” That’s been the pattern in the past.

  4. Bob
    Good job going after this guy, how about also starting to demand he resign to push this bill with so much voter oppositon?

  5. For Your Consideration
    The stumbling blocks we attempt to create today will no long be a problem tomorrow once these systems are in place. Dissension of any kind including what we write here and more importantly dissenters can be silenced once and for all and where will that leave us? Consider how these comment sections here or on news sites may not be giving us a voice but ultimately be used as a tool to take it away by drawing us out. Now consider ultimately once these systems are in place how easy it would be for someone or a group to use this technology to dominate. Don’t be distracted by Billy or Suzy downloading tripe. Don’t be distracted even by the fact it will be illegal to loan someone your book to read. It’s about as relevant as the hype the media gives to celebrity to distract us from the fact they no longer address reality. This is all reality, no longer fiction. Look and think higher.

    The best way to cover up the real issues is to create a tempest in a teapot, a distraction. The recording industry is a power yes, but only a part of a much larger power using all governments as a tool, a means to add this cog, one of many, to a system already in place. Control and monitoring are the ultimate goal. Consider how much power the Patriot Act gives the American government over it’s people. Now consider a system that goes beyond America and covers the world. Consider how your ability to buy and sell in this digital world is already at the mercy of someone with a keyboard who can freeze your assets with the stroke of a key or two. Consider when electronic currency is our only option. Consider how data mining can amass everything stored on some computer and create a portfolio on you, complete with information and contacts from emails, social sites, purchases, url’s visited, health records, etc., even pictures you put online matched to your IP address. They even want to use new chipped drivers licences as a port to this info claiming it is necessary for convenient border crossing. Now as someone recently said, give them the power to bypass laws we have to protect our IP identities with the installation of root kit software into our computers by cd or by law no less, with the power to snoop where our information reveals who we are and it becomes a much bigger issue than ripping cd’s. Consider also why P2P, an underground pipeline, is seen as a threat to these goals. Why should such a seemingly stupid issue with all it’s weak reasonings be of such importance to these people where the refuse to change course or back down?

    Apart from identity, could this be another attempt to harness and control the internet? We already are restricted in our access to the world by sites which tell us what is “relevant” for our browsing pleasure. Compare the ease of accessibility of ten years ago to now. Sites such as Google, Yahoo, etc., are world-wide portals into local affairs, portraying of course, only the affairs which are not seen as dissenting or dangerous to the “free” world. Our view of the world is increasingly GROOMED for us on the net as it already is through newspapers and television/radio. The internet is the last bastion of free speech. Will not this act restrict us, restrict blogs, etc., something the Americans are already living with as bloggers are being jailed? Consider this. It will become illegal to copy for future reference by way of paste/copy or computer or media recorders any published works, the intent being no doubt that as history is constantly revised, even as it is now on a weekly basis, (look at the reasons for Afghanistan as an example) there can be no legal record of previous histories to contest revised or edited information. One more thing to ponder in the big picture.

  6. spectrum
    I think Prentice’s auction of the airwaves was possibly a blip into good sense territory. We’ll find out in how he now handles the Copyright Act.

    A quick, but important question. Why is it the Industry Minister and not the Heritage Minister who is now taking the lead in introducing the DMCA to Canadians?

  7. @ saskboy

    “Why is it the Industry Minister and not the Heritage Minister who is now taking the lead in introducing the DMCA to Canadians?”

    because it is written to benifiet and protect industry not heritage or culture.

  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Facebook? Surely there are other ways to raise a petition without requiring people folks to sign up with a CIA proxy?

    See: [ link ]

    I want to sign the petition, but I am not about to join Facebook.

  9. Internet druggie says:

    Same as above
    I just closed down my Sympatico Unlimited High Speed account..because it no longer is.

    Although I have not voted in any election in the last decade, I will now re-register and await my first opportunity to vote against any political party which will limit my internet experience, and my rights.

    Hey, Michael, although at first I was getting tired of seeing “moreover” appear in your texts, I now look forward to it. Excellent work defending Canadian’s rights.

    Now that I will be a registered voter, you may count on my vote anytime!


  10. Todd Sieling says:

    Great work, and my thanks on moving this issue forward, Michael. You’ve renewed my confidence that web-based activism can be coherent and effective.

  11. IT Consultant
    This is an interesting conversation. A DMCA type law is a huge mistake if Canada goes down this path. The idea that Canada has to automatically adopt any law that the US adopts is ridiculous. The current laws that are in Canada were the result of discussion with the software industry. They are written the way copywrite laws should be written. A DMCA type law the bans technology that is used to circumvent copywrite. This is ludicrous as for instance such software is freely distributable over the internet. However, banning Copy protection circumvention technology is short sighted and a major burden on the citizens of this country. It would turn back the clock because what is called a piece of circumvention technology is a very gray area. For instance a Photocopier could be called a copy protection circumventing technology, so can computers, so can tape recorders, so can the internet and so can the telephone. People in the music and movie industries that are pushing for this are being very short sighted. They just see dollars and cents and don\’t look at the big picture. I think the thing that the government should do is ignore these people. In reality they don\’t need the help because they have other ways of generating revenue besides CD and DVD sales. Technology to stop such piracy is not feasible. In fact its down right impossible. They are going down a path that can\’t be enforced, will never be used to prevent anyone from copying music, movies or software and will further stifle the computer industry which is an industry that used to be worth 100 billion dollars.

    When I see politicians putting a law like this in place I start to wonder. Why would they want to pass such a thing? What are they hiding? Certainly their citizens aren\’t asking for this so what are their motivation? We need to ask what their agenda is because it certainly isn\’t for the public good.

    Now that being said. Something has to be done about content piracy in Canada. People pirate works of art every day without thinking about it. There are concerns about it. And I agree that people shouldn\’t be allowed to copy works of art without the original artist agreeing to it. I for one have no problem with Music and movie companies going after individuals who are copying their work without thier permission. Thats fair game in my book. But going after the guy who made the tape recorder just because it was used in such a crime is stupid.

    When people understand that digital technology is designed to manipulate information. You realize you can\’t force technology to be something else. Music and movies are nothing more then data in the digital age. Digital data is meant to be transfered from one place to another. Its the nature of the technology. So digital media cannot be subject to such a law. Its like defying the laws of physics. You can\’t do it.

  12. Ken McLean says:

    Copyright forever
    I have a great idea, in fact it is so great that I want the copyright to this idea and if any organization or person tries to use this idea I want to be able to sue them in court for infringement on my idea. I want to enable this copyright protection forever less a day. If you have read my idea then you have agreed that this idea is owned by me and if you try to use my idea, you can and will be sued in a court of law for damage and loss that may have suffered by me and all my heirs for all time less a day. By deleting this statement of intent then you agree to be bound by its content. If you copy this statement then you will be sued for copyright infringement.

    MY IDEA:
    Let’s sue God for creating this planet as I am sure he copied the idea for creation by watching the other gods …… or sue all the religious leaders in the world for reading God’s word to the masses.

    Give you head a shake Canada, by passing such an archaic law the Government is doing what it does best.

    All artists, writers and musicians should create their own web pages to sell their own product at a reasonable price to the public at large. Let’s get rid of the ivory towers ……. Babylon should fall if it gets too greedy.