TVO’s The Agenda Debates Copyright

Last Friday, I participated in a 40 minute debate on copyright on TVO's the Agenda.  The discussion focused on the events of the past two weeks, the primary concerns with a Canadian DMCA, and the influence of the U.S. on the Canadian copyright process.  Other participants included David Basskin, Mathew Ingram, and Robert Thompson. The full video (scroll through about 15 minutes) has now been posted online.

Update: Thanks to Joe Clark for noting that there is an MP3 version as well. 


  1. lol David Basskin your such a TOOL..

    I just went to HMV and paid for a CD and the CD i got I’m not going to name and I cant copy the CD unless I use a program that By-Passes the DRM.

    So that being said I say to you David Basskin STFUYFT.

  2. I call bullshit. What CDs have DRM?

  3. Gary,

    The Sony Rootkit CDs did.

  4. I think the key thing to note in this discussion is what are the rights of creators vs consumers.

    I buy a CD and bring it home

    1) I make a copy in case the original gets scratched

    2) I put the original in a safe place to make sure it doesn’t get scratched, and use the copy in my player

    3) Instead of copying to a CD, I copy it to my harddrive and play it from the harddrive

    4) I copy it to my portable player to listen to it on the run

    I’d argue that 1-4 are all fair uses of the CD

    5) Now, what if the CD had some form of DRM (some mystical form that actually worked) on it and I have to break that to do any of the above.

    Should I have to pay extra? Should I have to buy new copies for each use? Who should decide? I’d argue that any proposed law that made 1-4 infringing uses _regardless of DRM_ is unacceptable.

    Or my favorite example, a blind person buys an E-book with DRM which is not supported on his braille reader…is he now a criminal for breaking the DRM to read it?

    That’s why any law that makes a _tool_ illegal (for breaking DRM) rather specifying a _use_ is a bad law.

  5. I noticed that David Basskin talked about the DRM on AutoCAD and Shake (two very expensive and specialized computer programs). He implied that the copy protection the publishers use to keep those from being distributed is effective. A quick search for either title comes up with multiple torrents for each on a common torrent tracking site. I suspect his statements might lead an uninformed viewer to believe that DRM is generally effective when that’s definitely not the case.

  6. Linux Guru
    Oh the debate was good excpet the software angle, whats not mentioned was the fact that auto cad is losing business not because of P2P but due to there being open source and free alternatives. Like he said at 7000$ a pop, i’ll try and make my own thank you. And software is fast becoming all opensource, we have as proof how the model works, it also shows games and other apps. FOR BOTH WINDOWS
    so adding the levy for software is not only wrong , it would not fairly compensate opesource developers, and perpetuate the old model like microsft that is in 10 years not going to exist. Note that the guy himself was 5000 years old and they only have OLD people working for htem cause all the new and youth are not part a the riaa/mpaa/Microsoft racket.
    NOTE want to see 3 autocad like opensource pieces a software for 49.95 go get the mandriva powerpack2006
    ( note the cost there is for a few proprietary things like nvidia drivers ) and is far cheaper then 7000$
    they even had arkea a normally 20000USD per cpu package for database security that you get one free 50GB database on one cpu.
    P.S. there are alternatives to even arkea…

  7. DLatimer
    I was disappointed you allowed them to get away with the false dichotomy of creators v. users, instead of the more accurate vested interests v. new creators. The potential for explosion of creativity with computers and the internet is what’s at stake. The legislation has the potential to set up a legal minefield for those who wish to create with new mix and mash technologies.

  8. Scotty
    Listening to David Basskin he would outlaw Photocopiers, Mp3 devices, computers, cassettes, Vhs Tapes, dvd machines and so forth. He reminds me of a luddite type of person. What the industry should do is embrace technology. Look at Raidohead and the canadian creators as examples.

  9. fascinating
    The fascinating thing to me is that the people pushing for the DMCA say “but we aren’t going to sue anybody !”
    and nobody says “then why are you pushing to change the law so that you can ?”.

    The idea that “we’ll make these things illegal, but it’s ok, because we’re not planning to sue anybody for it anyway” is a reasonable position seems absurd to me.

  10. Excellent Showing by Prof. Geist
    Excellent interview.

    Dr. Geist clearly and calmly articulated all main points of our arguments regarding Copyright reform.

    One point that I think shouldn’t be lost is the argument that the “Copyright and IP” lawyer made about Canadian sheet music.

    The same abuse of copyright by sheet music copyright holders is what lead MOST consumers to photocopies – usually in libraries that had PAID a licensing fee that covered activities like copying is the type of copyright abuse that laws like the DMCA and unbalance copyright reform create!

    He also noted that artists should not go unpaid. Last time I checked the “artists” were NOT getting the fees and charges that the middlemen “associations” he represents were claiming (at least not the CRIA and SCOCAN). And artists like the Bare Naked Ladies have made this point countless times. Artists make their money on the road playing their copyrighted music live. Their original recordings which are aired publicly for virtually NOTHING are little more than advertising. So stop with the starving artist argument already!

    And lastly. Mr. Basskin repeatedly mentioned our “obligations” to the WIPO. WIPO is nothing more than a large collection of first world countries and their powerful corporations trying desperately to criminalize the act of sharing, learning even communicating. You see in their world citizens must PAY FOR EVERYTHING. And not just the first use. But for every subsequent use there after. That’s why so many of these desperate creatures claim they DON’T SELL anything – They LICENCE IT! Why? Because licences are perpetual and never ending. All sales are FINAL! Gotcha boys!

    You need not look any further than the BOOMING post secondary textbook industry. All the publishers need to do to ensure a book of general knowledge NEVER RETURNS to the public domain is to keep republishing the book ever year. Making only minor changes, sometimes just the cover. But the fact that the book has been republished means the public domain counter is reset.

    Copyright reform MUST be fair and balanced. And yes the artists and CREATORS MUST be properly compensated NOT the MIDDLEMEN like Mr. Basskin and these so-called “associations”.

  11. Zinc Saucier
    This whole notion of “Obligation” to an international body is ridiculous. Prentice’s and the CRIA’s only obligations should be to the Canadian people/artists who pay their salaries and keep them in their lofty and overinflated positions. I realize the importance of international cooperation, but I call a spade when I see a spade and the WIPO treaty is outdated, corporate focused pile of fuddle duddle.

    We may claw a few concessions from the Conservative government, especially if the liberals utilize this copyright controversy as a entry point to the techo grass roots and a chance to actually stand for something, but when all is said and done is it overly optimistic to assume that the Canadian Government (in its current paradigm) will let pass a truely progressive Copyright reform. There are simply to many stakeholders on either side of the issue sharing an unequal distribution of influence, mix that with a federal definition of compromise and I think you can see where this is going to end up. Barable, but just so.

    In other words, it looks like the Canadian’s will continue to be pirates.

  12. Example of DMCA Abuse
    From arstechnica: A Boston man has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing hardware maker HP and office supply retailer Staples of colluding to inflate the price of printer ink cartridges in violation of federal antitrust law. According to the suit, HP allegedly paid Staples $100 million to refrain from selling inexpensive third-party ink cartridges, although the suit doesn’t make it clear how plaintiff Ranjit Bedi arrived at that figure.

    For most printer companies, ink is the bread and butter of their business. The price of ink for HP ink-jet printers can be as much as $8,000 per gallon, a figure that makes gas-pump price gouging look tame. HP is currently the dominant company in the printing market, and a considerable portion of the company’s profits come from ink.

    Seems people have forgotten the lengths that printer manufactures like HP, Epson and especially Lexmark went to all but extort people into buying ONLY their cartridges by putting a VERY SMALL snippet of code on a chip in their printers that could be used to say to a judge that users were bypassing copyrighted code to use OEM parts. The DMCA rule stood.

    You know the more I hear industry BS like we’re not going to suit anybody the more I retch because everyone know damn well what these creatures will do. They will selectively suit users across the country with the goal of scary people into submission. And really that’s what we’re talking about here.

    And let’s not forget that the WIPO accords that these guys yammer on about were written over a decade ago at a time when companies like Microsoft, Oracle and HP and most large multi-national tech companies with turf and a business model to protect, very much feared this “new” thing coming down the road called OPEN SOURCE!

  13. What is truly apparent in this interview is a difference of philosophy. It is the difference between seeing Culture as a product that people buy or Culture as a collective story that belongs to everyone.

  14. A lucky programmer says:

    Open Source saved my job
    A couple of years ago I was very close to loose my job. I’m a computer programmer and most of my friends were losing their job because of outsourcing. At that time we were having problems with Web Sphere (an application server from IBM). To fix the problem we have called on board a couple of IBM consultants which were costing my company over $1,000 per day. They never figured out what the problem was and they blamed us the programmers for the memory leaking. I then passed some night learning how to configure JBOSS (which is an open source application server like Web Sphere) and once installed we didn’t have any memory leaks and today our application is still working smoothly. No more problems and no more expansive IBM consultants. The “negative” thing about open source software is the lack of support and documentation. That negative thing turned out to be very “positive” for me asince it made my skill valuable again. Doesn’t matter for the lack of support or documentation a good programmer can figure it out (as last resort you can always look through the code to figure things out and even fix it).

  15. I think the AutoCad analogy is interesting since they owe a lot of their success to their lack of protection in the early days. Back in the beginning the 2 front runners for desktop Cad supremacy were AutoCad and CadKey. CadKey unprotected their software with a dongle, while AutoCad had very little protection. As a result AutoCad spread throughout the world like wildfire, while CadKey disappeared.

    Another example is Microsoft. Microsoft would not exist today if they didn’t steal code wherever they could. Now of course they want to lock everything down to prevent anyone else from achieving similar success.

  16. Of course I meant CadKey “protected” their software with a dongle

  17. Arthur Goldsmith says:

    Software Developer
    Sadly enough, those were one of the better television debates I’ve seen on copyright legislation. I love how about 3 quarters of the way through, when Michael said “BSA” and the host requested the meaning of that acronym, everyone, nearly at the same time, said “BUSINESS SOFTWARE ALLIANCE!”.

    Although that lawyer representing the industry is just a mouth piece for his client’s interests. I found it hilarious how he was so insistent that it was possible to copy any CD that was found in an HMV, hmm I wonder why…. I would have asked him how many portable music players take CDs as their primary input medium? Nearly none. The industry is still somewhat out of touch, and is in the process of finding new ways to monetize its media. We need to step back a little and find out what happens, it’s clear to me that our artists aren’t going to stop creating, more recently than ever I’ve been exposed to such a diversity in this digital age, I’m curious as to weather that would have been possible without new forms of medias and mediums such as Youtube and the Internet.

    I’m also really confused as to what constitutes fair use. I recently did a promotional video for my university last semester in form of a video contest. Submitted and won first place. The video was only 3 and 1/2 minutes long, it used 1 track out of copyright, and 2 other tracks still in copyright today. After I submitted it, I came across an article about a woman’s Youtube video who’s baby was dancing to some music in the background, and the mere presence of the background music prompted the publisher to ask Youtube to take it down. She’s filed a civil suit back, but this prompted me to find music in which I could get artists permission for such use. It took nearly 2 months to get a reply from a couple artists, but I don’t want my creative work to suffer from someone’s accusations that it’s copyright infringement.

  18. Arthur Goldsmith says:

    .. whoops.
    hmmm I misunderstood what ‘title’ meant. lol

  19. Palonek
    [ link ]
    Canadian DMCA ? I thought the entire purpose was to import the US bill into Canada, save on lawyer costs for companies and so on… Am I wrong ?

  20. Jame
    [ link ]

  21. Microsoft and IP
    Brent. For a good example of your statement about Microsoft’s practice, think back to what happened with the release of MS-DOS 6. They got sued by Stack Electronics because of a product from Stack called Stacker which compressed the disk approximately doubling the capacity of the disk. Back in the day when a 10 to 20 MByte disk was the norm on a PC, that was significant. Microsoft reverse engineered the code and incorporated it into the OS, calling it DoubleDisk. Stack sued them and won something on the order of $100 million. Microsoft counter sued Stack Electronics claiming that they “published” information from the early access pack that Stack purchased from Microsoft. Microsoft convinced the judge that using the information in the documentation constituted publishing the protected information and awarded Microsoft $12 million.

  22. Edward Palonek says:

    Microsoft and IP
    KDH you have a very good memory. At the end the product did not even produce half the money that was used in legal proceedings. Never the less the Copyright issues will continue to evolve and change as the technology allows for new methods and transfer of information and other “property”
    Edward Palonek™
    [ link ]

  23. David Basskin talks about the English Publishers vs. the “pirate” Scottish Publishers, but what he failed to note was that the English publisher wanted copyright to last *forever*.