Strombo and Trotsky

The media reverberations from the copyright delay continue with some very significant mainstream media coverage.  CBC's The National covered the story on Tuesday (video on the Facebook group and YouTube but I haven't seen a more accessible version), I appeared on CBC's The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos last night, and this morning Terry Corcoran of the Financial Post labels me a "Telecom Trotskyite" in a column critical of the copyright delay.

For the most part, this is all very good.  The coverage has educated more people, brought more people to the Facebook group (now over 30,000 members), and resulted in hundreds more letters and phone calls to MPs and the Ministers.  Moreover, as the copyright issue gains widespread exposure, more of the public will better appreciate its importance and politicians will come to understand that a fair approach that meets the needs of both creators and users is essential. 

There is a downside, however.  As much as I'd like to talk about how much fun it was to be on the Hour or why Corcoran's position on copyright is completely inconsistent with his typical minimalist regulatory approach, this issue is not about me.  I've talked about the need for balanced copyright for many years, but we've never seen this much public engagement in copyright.  That is because the real story is that copyright matters to people and they now have the tools to make their voices heard.  I'm thrilled to have played a role in raising awareness, but the real credit goes to the thousands of people who took the time to write or call their elected representatives, to blog about the issue, to attend the Toronto or Calgary events, or to raise awareness with their friends, family and community.  This blog is going to become a bit quieter over the holiday period but I sincerely hope that the copyright conversation will continue.


  1. Harold Jarche says:

    Thanks for taking the lead on this important debate, as many of us don’t have the legal expertise to comment in a completely informed manner. Yes, the credit goes to thousands of people, but you have helped to clarify the key issues. Copyright matters to me, but I could not have explained the issues as well as you have. Thank you and enjoy the holidays 🙂

  2. Stephen Downes says:

    I echo Harold’s remarks. Yes, the story is not about you – and thank you for stating that – but you have been an important voice in the debate, taking the time and effort to do a lot of the reserach and the heavy lifting to make it accessible to the wider public.

  3. Who is this Terence Corcoran? Does he have a clue about which he is talking? The Canadian version of the US DMCA is a joke as far as common sense. The Sony Rootkit is a perfect example of what can happen when companies run unchecked, and consumer interests are ignored.
    \\\”If the iTune you download can only be used on your iPod, that\\\’s an assault on your rights\\\” is a joke. If I buy a CD today, I can listen to it on my home stereo, or on my computer, and in my car or at a friends house. With the DRM Mr. Corcoran is advocating with his sentence, would limit me to just one location. How is this better for the consumer, and how can he defend this?
    His stance on net-neutrality also looks like he is owned by the Telecom companies. Maybe when his column is not available to anyone because the Telecom companies have decided to not deliver it across the internet, and he does not get paid, maybe then he will realize why we are trying to stand up for the issues that you seem to be the face off.

    Well good job, because without someone organizing people, taking the stupid abuse from these types of columnists, I am sure we will all regret it later.

  4. Giordano Bruno says:

    I found the label “Trotskyites” a little ambiguous.What “Trosky” is Terry Corcoran referring to? The one who participates to the communist revolution or the one who was killed by the communist regime?
    In this role game who is playing Stalin?

  5. Unavoidable…
    One of the things businesses learn – or, more properly, the people in the businesses learn – is that any large project or program needs a champion. This is not always the person who will spend the money, but it is always someone who is there to discuss and support the program.

    It turns out to be almost impossible to go forward with only the full commitment of everyone involved – someone has to appear to lead. It’s still going to be impossible without the underlying commitment as well, but a individual champion is a necessary feature.

    Much as your thanks are appreciated by everyone else, please accept our thanks for your part. I only hope you realize just how critical the role of champion is.

  6. Here is a link to the article by Terry Corcoran of the Financial Post:

    [ link ]

    And for those wondering what Trotskyism means:
    [ link ]

  7. First John Degen [ link ] calls you a red-sashed, swashbuckling leading people to the barricades then Terry Corcoran [ link ] labels you as a Trotskyite.
    Are you a communist Michael or these people do not have any argument rather then throw dirt at you?

  8. Business Student
    It seems you must be ‘logged in’ to comment on the FP article, or maybe the feature isn’t available at all — disappointing.

    Also, whether you like or dislike Harper, I don’t understand Corcoran’s comments about him: “…is that the Harper Conservatives are running an all-new populist government, friend of the little guy and defender of consumerism.”

    Is there something wrong with that?? So, in general, the corporate world should rule and the little guy continue to get squashed? hmmm

  9. Read Mr Corcoran’s article and his bio… I think he is missing the point.

    His comments in para 3 seems to indicate that the companies should not be required to disclose usage policies so that the consumer can make an informed choice.

    In para 4, he argues that “Industry Canada’s recent wireless-spectrum auction regime, which involves a form of nationalization of telephone-cable assets, has its roots in the idea that the people rule”. Funny, isn’t that democracy? I guess he forgot that Rogers had a set aside when they got into the business.

    In para 5, again, he seems to miss the point. Net Neutrality isn’t about charging more to some users or content providers, its about the carriers (not just telecom) attempting to charge money directly to someone (call them X) who subscribes to one of the carrier’s subscribers (call the ISP Y) for services rendered. If they don’t, X’s bandwidth may be reduced, not by the Y but by the carrier. At the very least, this could be considered censorship.

  10. Terry Corcoran says:
    “Changes to Canada’s copyright law have been sought for years by artists, performers and corporations who have seen their rights ignored as technology swept ahead of existing laws.”

    This statement seems pretty stale considering that the musicians felt they had to form their own coalition to get their own voices heard over big corporations.
    Here is a link to what they have to say:
    [ link ]

  11. Not a matter of Left vs. Right
    I don’t know what Corcoran’s motives are. Regardless of whether he is consistent or knows what he is talking about, his column’s misrepresentation of us as communists is dangerous.

    We are a movement. What makes us a movement is that we include a diversity of points of view – liberals, conservatives, radicals, artists, consumers, scholars. The vulnerability in any movement is that the constituent groups could fragment.

    In effect, Corcoran’s column tries to split the movement (and to alienate any potential support from his readers on the right). We must not let that happen.

  12. That’s the FP for you
    There’s absolutely no demonstration in this article that this guy figures that the consumer’s well-being is of any value at all. What’s up with this anti-populist garbage he’s spouting? Who, exactly, does he think democratic governments are supposed to work for? Does he think that our MPs of better use to us as US puppets?

    I love how the financial post offers no readily visible feedback mechanism. “Stories” like this really wouldn’t be able to stand up to any sort of scrutiny if it did. Add some weakly censored nudity, and the NP/FP could be Canada’s version of Fox “News” in print form. Stuff like this is why the G&M will always be the better national paper.

  13. Letters to the editor
    On the sitemap, I found a link called “Letters to the Editor” ([ link ]), but it leads me to a page that says “Sorry, we couldn’t find the email address for that recipient”.

    Looks like they’re not exactly up on all this new technology like the web.

  14. Got it
    Apparently somebody didn’t realise that something’s case-sensitive. Here’s the [ link ]

  15. raise the level of the debate
    That’s how to raise the level of the debate. Say that anyone who disagrees with you is a Commie Pinko.

    The internet fundamentally is a liberating technology, and no copyright law that intends to create a fair and just system for compensating those who create can ignore the essential nature of the internet. Attempts at artificiality within the internet world are doomed.

    Those who do not understand the technology, wish to impose some additional burdens, including taxes and copyright law violations, brand new, without public consultation or wide spread public consensus on what should be done, and those who oppose this brainless form of copyright-stalinism are then themselves labelled communists. That’s a brilliant diversionary tactic, that is.


  16. Here Here!
    Amazing how he never mentions that all Canadians have been paying a levy on blank media for the past 10 years, which is suppose to go to artist & copyright holders. Even if the purpose of the blank media has nothing to do with copyright material, you still pay the levy.

    All that this Columnists article is missing is some form of DRM. Which would probably make it unreadable by anyone trying to access it.

    Side note: A huge thanks to you Michael. While it is true that we Canadians are the movement. We need responsible citizens like yourself to help lead the cause.

    My sincerest thanks to Michael & all Canadians making their voices heard.

  17. David Gratton says:

    I\’m shaking my head that this piece actually came from the National Post. Terry\’s poison-the-well writing style is well known. But to actually promote a point of view that is so counter to the paper\’s long standing view of government and personal freedom is entirely inconsistent. As a large media company, could it be the new information economy is causing the NP to betray its own belief system.

    [ link ]

  18. Stephen Bush says:

    Michael – saw you on The Hour last night and I plan to spend more time on your Blog to learn more about this issue. I\’m particularly interested in understanding copyright infringement of content used within Blog sites. Not all Blogs include a copyright statement and it seems to me that bloggers would like their content to travel. Does your site deal with this topic? If so, can you direct me to where I can find out more about this. Thanks.

  19. writer guy
    Geez, for the last time, what is wrong with wearing a red sash?

    [ link ]

  20. Cartoonist
    I always find it fascinating when someone starts using the communist labels when describing something. It’s as if they are using years of Cold War propaganda to strengthen their argument. I just think it’s lazy.

  21. I wonder if Corcoran is referring to Cory Doctorow when he’s talking about Trotskyists. Doctorow’s parents are Trotskyists, though I don’t know if he considers himself to be one.

  22. Hi Michael,

    When a writer/editor resorted to use a loaded-label to be part of his/her argument, I tend to think that the person doesn’t have a tight nor strong enough argument.

    But I agree with you that any coverage (even wrong ones) will tend to educate people and bring attention to the issues.

    Mr. Corcoran used some flawed arguments in his piece and I will try to address them when I find some time to blog about it.

    By the way, thank you so much for your guiding effort and leading the charge. But if the government and its little helpers want to isolate our efforts and ignore the wide-spread concerns by Canadians across the land, they need to rethink their message. It is not just Michael, you as an individual, who wants to see changes. It is tens of thousands of Canadians that demand changes and accountability.

    I look forward to find some time to write my reply to Mr. Corcoran hopefully without the need to resort to tactics like loaded-labels and can focus on substantive issues and real concerns.

    Best Regards,

  23. Oh, gosh, someone dared attack your precious Mr. Geist. How sad — you people are pathetic blind followers without an opinion of your own.

  24. To TOMAN
    No, I’m not in the least upset somebody attacked Dr. Geist. What I am upset about is that he negates our rights to demand, yes DEMAND a fair say in the laws that govern our country and therefore us. He has no clue on how this issue affects people, obviously. I don’t have an uni. degree, nor a job, but I can tell you that I am informed of the issues because I do read the blogs. I will continue to copy DVD’s for my own, personal use with my precious program “DVD X copy”. Which, of course, isn’t available any more. Why? Because the movie corporations took that company out of business. Why? Infringed on their turf, you see. Actually that’s a myth, but try telling that to them. I will also continue to copy CD’s to my computer and load them onto my RIO MP3 player, ’cause I don’t own an IPod and will not, and won’t use any Digital Rights Management crippled downloading service. Oh, and I do think that artists that aren’t with the CRIA are brave, and wonderful people.

    So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  25. To write a comment like that you don’t need too much brain, do you? Where is your imagination?

  26. By the way the previous message was directed to TO MAN not Deb.

  27. Deb Johnson,

    So many people put down the ipod. Honestly there is nothing wrong with the early ipods.

    Why I bought an ipod:
    – plays non drm formats
    – cost per mb of storage was better than others
    – Did NOT have to install crappy manufactures software to up load music. 3rd party software was available
    – I can choose to change the operating software (rockbox, linux)

    I’ve *heard* but have not confirmed myself that the latest ipods have had some of these features crippled. Apple doesn’t want you using third party software to upload your music. Some say it is so they can make money from ads in their own software. Again I do not know if this is true as I do not have their software installed. Others say it is so they can force updates onto *your* hardware that will cripple the ability to play non drm music.

    If they above is true then yes I would NOT purchasse one of the newer ipods, but the older ipods are good. Friends describe mine as a brick. I’m ok with that cause it’s *my* brick under *my* control.

  28. Why I don’t have an IPod
    I didn’t get an IPod because when I was looking at them in early Feb. 2004 the price was so much higher. So, stuck with the Rio, which also didn’t have crappy software. I can put MP3, or WMA, or .wav files on it. Yes, I’ve heard what you’ve heard about the later models of IPods. Just pisses me off to have to use ONLY ITunes to load songs onto only my over-priced IPod (if I had one).

  29. I bet any money that the ones who are bashing Dr. Geist are the ones who are working for the lobbyists.

  30. freshwatermermaid says:

    punching at air
    Anyone directly attacking a person in this debate, on whatever side they may be, is either failing to realize a conversation is occurring between diverse people, or using a tactical move to make the argument about a personality instead of the issue.

    Anyone out there who wants to say something naughty about Dr. Geist is perfectly within their rights to do so. Anyone who wants to say something nice or indifferent or fail to say anything at all is free to do so.

    The issue is copyright and painting the argument as the NP and several others have done as a debate between Parliament and Dr. Geist is missing the point either deliberately or due to poor perspective.

    Let’s discuss this from many standpoints instead of getting down in the mud.

  31. Time for me to chime in.

    I work in Edmonton as a software developer. I have consulted for many various business and government entities. I have seen first hand how the “open source” movement has fostered and allowed innovation for the products I deliver to these entities. In this “remix” mindset, productivity for everyone in my industry has improved drastically over the last few years. I have contributed and developed opensource software myself. There are personal benefits. I have used my work on these projects on my resume, to gain experience, and network with others.

    I feel that as our society closes itself off around the copyright issue, we loose this innovation capacity. This mindset of sharing, remixing, building on others work is key to furthering our industry and heritage. When we lock down with copyright we claim we are doing it to promote competition, but instead it stifles it. I have also seen in my
    industry many bullying cases were the “big guys” can easily close down other amazingly innovative ideas because they have the lawyers and money, all using copyright and DMCA style takedown notices.

    For a magazine to equate this cause as left, or communist or pop-Trotskyite form is insane. This fosters competition. It builds industry. I have seen more innovative bands(music) outside the big labels than I have inside. These are the ones that
    want others to hear their music, and art, and what they do for the real reason. They get compensated for what they are doing but not as much as what they have done.

    Everyone builds on what others have done. As the cost of making digital copies approaches zero, we should hail this time in history as a triumph. We are not thieves, we are champions. Champions of a new way of thinking. Build and share digital works and recognize the author. The author builds this portfolio and gets compensated for new work because people/business want to use the industry leaders, not the industry protectionists.

  32. There was a report released last January about Music in Canada – “The Canadian Independent Music Industry – An Examination of Distribution and Access”:

    [ link ]

    I think it would be in the interest of Canadians to produce an independent report regarding Copyright before forcing any new law.

  33. Yes, I am a Telecom Trotskyite!
    Yes, I am a Telecom Trotskyite! I am also a Pro-User Zealot! (Sam Bulte, preved!)

    Thank you, Michael Geist, for being the leader of all this.

  34. Oh me too! Pro-User Zealot.
    At some point the Facebook group should put up a penny each, and send that to the ministers. Then they too can be a “lobby group” instead of “a small but vocal band of Trotskyite’s”. In fact, by mere membership numbers they would upgrade to “a large but vocal band of Trotskyite Pro-User Zealot Lobbyists”. It would look great on a t-shirt, I might point out.

  35. @Deb Johnson:

    Just because you have to use iTunes to load the songs onto your iPod does NOT mean that those songs have to be bought off of iTunes. In fact, I’ve loaded songs from my CD’s onto my Nano and well as songs from previously ripped CD’s.

    There is also the iPod Linux project that is working on getting rid of that limitation. Not sure of where they are as I haven’t looked at the project in a while.

  36. The National Post enjoys calling people communists. They just don’t feel right unless they Ad Hominem at least 10 people per year.

  37. so we all know the truth about the lobbyist. they are trying to tell lies.

    Posted on Facebook

    Brad Keenan wrote
    at 11:41am
    Myths or Truths? Have a read about them by clicking over to

    Free speech is free speech but let’s do it based on truths.

    Now what do you guys see here [ link ] ?


    For more information on Partnership Marketing please contact:

    Brad Keenan
    Director, Music Licensing & Partnership Marketing


    So all who are bashing Dr. Geist are just the poor lobbyist trying to start a fight.

    Message to all lobbyist on this issue

    why do yoy guys want this law? when you the lobbyists cant even follow the law that they asked for.

    (ie. MPAA’s University Toolkit hit with DMCA takedown notice after GPL violation – [ link ] )
    (ie. MPAA Steals Code, Violates Linkware License – [ link ] )
    (ie. MPAA Hireing hackers – Exclusive: I Was a Hacker for the MPAA – [ link ] )

  38. If i want to copy a DVD movie to my PSP, i *MUST* break the DRM to do so.

    If I wanted to use an iTunes song the way I want, I *MUST* break the DRM to do so.

    If I want to PVR a movie off a pay-TV movie channel, sometimes I’ll have to break the DRM to do so.

    If I want to transfer songs from a legally bought CD released by EMI or Sony BMG from the period of 2002-2006, I may very well have to break the DRM to do so. In the Sony BMG cases, I’d get a dangerous rootkit on my computer without my authorization.

    If I buy an eBook and want to transfer it to my MP3 player, then I *MUST* break the DRM to do so.

    Once a copyright expires on a DRM-ed media, the DRM lives on regardless and without resolution to me. I must therefore break the DRM to use the media I payed for.

    These are just some of the things that a Canadian DMCA would make illegal.

    DRM makes fair dealing IMPOSSIBLE without being forced to break the DRM.

    Bottomline: If this type of restrictive copyright bill *IS* introduced, I’ll bounce the Conservatives out of office and relucatantly vote for the Liberals, Dion and all. And all my friends and family will do the same too.

  39. freshwatermermaid says:

    Hey fedge,

    Well argued. These are all important points to remember. Please also recall that the last Liberal government tried to implement something similar a few years ago. Please also recall that the NDP had no strong statement on the subject until after Charlie Angus took up the call, and even now the replies are fairly waffly.

    Make sure that in your riding the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Bloc (if you’re in la belle province) candidates and party members know that this is an election issue. We can’t get rid of one to bring in another. Everyone wants to win, so make sure they understand that in order to have and keep a job as an MP, anyone running has to consult and come up with a feasible platform.


  40. FWM,

    I seem to recall the NDP supporting the Canadian Music Creators Coalition quite a while ago. Oh… found it. [link] to press release.

  41. Let’s try that again…
    [link] to NDP press release.

  42. I give up
    Ok, so for some reason I can’t link. Anyway… [ link ]

  43. Martin Laplante says:

    On one side, a respected law professor who is a recognized authority in this field. And at the risk of damaging his left-wing cred, many successful Canadian corporations and investors rely on him and think his research is worth paying for. On the other side, name-calling.

    The irony of this movement is that it is seen as kneejerk anti-americanism. But look at what is being asked for: fair use and most other features we want come straight out of U.S. law. In some ways Canadian law is better but if we’re going change our copyright law let’s adopt the good parts of U.S. law and not the bad parts; the parts that promote innovation and use of intellectual property, not those that stifle them. No kneejerk anti-americanism here, we’ll gladly adopt U.S. laws when they’re good for us.

  44. Thanks for the lead on this one Michael.

    On the other hand what would Mr. FP writer (no I don’t care to recall his name) say to Trent.

    “Rose: So did you — you got flack from the RIAA I heard.

    Reznor: Well, I did read a little bit of — a little grumbling from them. But I’m not on their side. And they’re not on my side. And that’s what I wish the public knew more about where the RIAA really stands. And they’re just a lobbyist group for the record labels. They do not have the artists’ best interests in mind. And as proof of that in the last few years, a couple examples that are ridiculous in terms of things that there’s no way they can misconstrue that as being for the artists’ rights, you know. And I think what they’re doing now as far as going after the housewife, you know, is ludicrous. This is your fans and your audience that you’re attacking —”

    [ link ]

    It is a long read so don’t bother if you’re not a fan or want to know more about his latest advertising campaign and shift to free music. But notice, he says RIAA does NOT act in artist’s best interest. I will never believe that any ‘publishing’ company acts in content creator’s best interest. Internet has changed all that now and there is simply no reason to let them stop this new busniess model just because the bit companies are dinosaurs that need to die off or evolve. Before I go on rambling at 4 am one more time.

    Thanks M.G. and uninformed individuals calling you names only shows that they are frustrated with us the vocal minority.

  45. Giordano Bruno says:

    moral deformity
    Corcoran’s article didn’t give us a single reason why as Canadian we should engage in a Copyright reform. I’m still waiting for someone who is able to write a single not shallow or superficial reason, a just cause why we should give up our basic rights as consumers or as humans (e.g. invasion of privacy and criminalization). Without a reasonable rationale it is difficult to remove the idea that because of the egoism and moral deformity of some privileged group we would suffer restrictions, humiliations and injustice.

  46. Great rebuttal to the article by Kempton
    There’s a great rebuttal to the above article by Kempton Lam here [ link ]

    Have a read, and give him a big thumbs up! Great rebuttal.

  47. Telecom Trotskyite Replies Collection
    IMHO Corcoran’s article is just an example of bad and cheap journalism. Instead of relaying in facts he chooses to relay in his obtuse partisan credo.

    Here you are some smart reply to Corcoran’s article:

    David Gratton\\\’s replay [ link ]
    Larry Borsato\\\’s replay [ link ]
    Richard Pitt\\\’s replay [ link ]
    Kempton Lam\\\’s replay [ link ]


  48. More from NP says:

    More from National Post

    [ link ]

  49. Online Distribution
    As noted in the National Post article, online distribution is helping the overall music industry. There are some losers and winners with the advent of online downloads, but overall does the customer have more choice and freedom?
    [ link ]

  50. Corcoran – what a joke. Trying soooo hard to be a shock jock. Standard crappo neocon subjective poop.

  51. Also, Ars Technica is reporting that EMI, Universal, and Warner have all decided to sell mp3 music. seems to have a large selection of mp3’s for sale, and I hope eMusic will be considered by the large labels as well (since that is where I buy all of my music).

    [ link ]

    They are also reporting that Walmart’s DRM heavy online store is being closed. People aren’t buying media that is restricted in how and when and where they can use that media. There is just too much competition.

    It’s really getting to the point that unless DRM becomes a requirement for everyone, nobody really has the option to use it since it will substantially reduce (or eliminate) sales. So, any DRM directed legislation will not slow “piracy”, since everyone is selling in an unprotected format.

    The intended purpose of the legislation is obsolete before it even arrives at the table.

  52. I’d say that the demand for DRM legislation depends on Sony now. They’ve got a long history of sticking to their highly proprietary practices, even if it loses them a lot of money like betamax did. They’re certainly free to unnecessarily limit their own customer base again, but until they start making equipment that’s just completely inferior, I’d say count on seeing new versions of their rootkit in the future.

    Good of the NP for trying to balance that ad hominem travesty that Mr. Corcoran coughed up. Nice to see they’ve got someone not completely in the industry’s pocket.

  53. Nobody seems to have noted the most astonishing line from Corcoran’s screed:
    “Industry Canada’s recent wireless-spectrum auction regime, which involves a form of nationalization of telephone-cable assets, has its roots in the idea that the people rule.”

    The man wants a corporate dictatorship. Let the people rule? Pshaw! Democracy is sooo 20th Century.

  54. @ Mhaman
    The record labels are not the only ones that will benefit from DRM lockin. There are large software corps. that would love to see the law pass.

    Also don’t be sure that if it passes we will have access to drm free music.

  55. The beginning of the end of fair use in the USA:

    [ link ]

  56. ACTRA and Financial Post against the Int
    Thank you for the links Michael. It inspired me to tie ACTRA’s hypocritical criticism of CanWest Global to Corcoran’s biased view that we’re anti-business and/or anti-American just because we favour fair copyright reforms.

    So please consider this a pTracback:
    [ link ]

  57. misleading title
    There’s too much here about Trotsky, and not enough about George Stroumboulopoulos.
    I had hoped they were going to have an imaginary dialogue, judging by the title of this post.
    Or at least a comparison of their ideologies and methods.