The Canadian DMCA: A Summary To-Date

As the likelihood of the introduction of a Canadian DMCA increases, I've received a large number of requests for a brief summary the issue and the mounting concerns.  This is not easy given copyright's complexity, but it is important to ensure that more Canadians better understand the issue. 

My short version would be that there is concern with what the bill is likely to contain (modeled after the U.S. DMCA which has had a negative effect on innovation, privacy, education, and research), what it is unlikely to contain (nothing on fair dealing, time shifting, device shifting, the private copying levy), and how it came about (no public consultation, strong-armed pressure from the U.S.).  As for what reforms we should have, I think my eight Fair Copyright for Canada principles are balanced and meet the goal of complying with the WIPO treaties.

For those that want to dive a bit deeper, I'd recommend the following five posts:

Want to get involved?  Here is my list of 30 things you can do, which includes joining the national Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group and a local chapter.  Copyright for Canadians has even more comprehensive list.

Want to dig even deeper? 

Groups and companies that have expressed concern about the current path include:

Concerns with the Canadian DMCA include:

Op-eds and media coverage includes:

There is, of course, much more – from deBeer's Copyright Resolutions to the Copyright MPs to the Ponsonby Rule to BoingBoing's exceptional coverage to my recent Why Copyright talk – this is clearly an issue that has galvanized thousands of people.  In fact, more telling than any posting or op-ed are the thousands of letters, calls, and postings from individuals from coast to coast that provide the clearest signal that the copyright issue should not be underestimated.


  1. But by allowing anti-circumvention only in relation to non-infringing copying, the DRM will still have a tendency to perpetuate the copyright long after the copyright has run out by making it much harder to keep the material shifting to new media as it ages to keep it playable.

    I see that you\’re trying to fit fair copyright into WIPO, but I don\’t see any DRM legislation as being fair unless it\’s terribly complex with mandated DRM-free copies for libraries/archives etc.

    Now, if you allow the breaking of DRM for private copying, and we know that commercial pirates just avoid the DRM issue completely, just who is the DRM now stopping?

    Allowing any law criminalizing any aspect of DRM removal makes no sense in a world where DRM is being dropped daily, and only effects the very situations you want exempted anyway.

  2. Anthony Power says:

    Where’s Google while all of this is going on? It seems there are certain types of companies, Google being the main one, that would have an interest in lobbying against this type of legislation.

  3. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    We should add…
    “Take your music and get off our Internet, if all you’re going to do is cause problems.”

    Seriously, no one had an issue with the Internet until these lobbiest started considering the Internet their personal medium for delivering their content and treating the rest of us who couldn’t care less about the music industry as customer’s as well. Now these musicians want to add a $5 tax to everyone’s Internet service in Canada to make music file sharing legal and I am sure that by the time everyone has had their piece of the “let’s tax the Internet for corporate greed”, the Internet will be so expensive the majority of Canadians will not be able to afford it!

    [ link ]

    At this point I have four words for the RIA, CRIA, MPAA, and their minions:

    “Get off OUR Internet”

    Ban the transmission of all copyrighted content on the Internet and the issue is over. Period.

    If these people think that the community of Internet users are going to sit back and let them ruin the Internet for everyone, these people had best give their heads a shake. I’d rather see a ban on all copyright than a curtailing of our rights and freedoms and a subsidy of yet another industry that does not need it.

    Farmers, manufacturing, and infastructure need money and I’ll be damned if I give the media moguls a single cent before I give a farmer a thousand dollars. Farmers feed cities, media moguls rip people off. End of story.

  4. Darryl Moore says:

    Ban all (C) content?
    R. Bassett Jr. you make it sound so simple “Ban the transmission of all copyrighted content on the Internet and the issue is over. Period.” OKaaay, But this begs two questions.

    1) How do you identify content which is protected by copyright? With different terms of copyright in different countries and different standards for fair use, this is a very difficult task.

    2) How do you implement the ban? Encrypted torrents and offshore servers are almost impossible to stop. Just ask the guys at TBP.

  5. “How do you identify content which is protected by copyright? With different terms of copyright in different countries and different standards for fair use, this is a very difficult task.”

    This would be quite easy actually. It is my understanding that in countries where the Berne Convention applies copyright is automatic on any work created. Therefore all works originating from can be assumed to be under copyright (including our posts here!).

    This probably constitutes the majority of the internet.

  6. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    My comment was made to make the point about how selfish the media industry is being in regards to the Internet.

    I find it especially offensive when they refer to Bittorrent as illegal, as many compaines use it every day, such as Blizzard (World of Warcraft). These media companies seem to act as though the Internet belongs to them and they can do what ever they want with it, which is a total farce.

    As for administrating a ban, it would make sense to put that onus on the media companies themselves to ensure their copyrighted works cannot be made compatible with the Internet. This would allow ISPs and consumers to sue the media companies for making media available to people in such a manner that it can be transmitted over the Internet, as such transmissions would cause undue stress on the network. Thousands of companies and millions of consumers should not have to spend their money policing content that belongs to a handful of companies that evidently can’t control their own content. Those companies should be held accountable for making media available in a form that can be converted or modified for transmission over the Internet. It’s no one’s fault but their own.

    I wonder how much these media companies would like the current system if we put the shoe on the other foot, eh?

  7. I was attempting to point out that applying a dumb filter on all copyrighted works would essentially eliminate the entirety of the internet, since copyright is given automatically on all works you create.

    I didn’t mean to suggest it was a good idea. Quite the opposite in fact.

  8. Anthony Power says:

    R. Bassett,
    A ban on copyrighted material would definitely solve the problem. So would dismantling the internet. So would a ban on computer technology. Better yet, a ban on writing and creative expression altogether.

    I think you’re missing the point.

  9. Anthony Power says:

    Can you point to a summary of the proposed new legislature and what has been presented to parliament by the minister to date (ie have any bills or drafts been presented or otherwise described?). I would like to express my position on the subject to members of government as you have suggested, however it would be nice to know their stated position (if any) before doing so. I don’t don’t use Facebook so apologies in advance if you have already done so in that forum.

  10. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Anthony Power wrote:
    “A ban on copyrighted material would definitely solve the problem. So would dismantling the internet. So would a ban on computer technology. Better yet, a ban on writing and creative expression altogether.

    I think you’re missing the point.”

    That IS my point. You’ll have to excuse my sarcasm and emotion, they are integral parts of my nature. It runs in the family.

    Of course, it would be a continual process of “catch up” to try and regulate the Internet or control copyrighted media and it’s not worth the effort for an exceptional number of reasons. Painting the situation in the light of it actually being the media company’s fault [as I did earlier] is about right, as it’s meaningless easy to break the encryption on a CD/DVD and CD/DVD information is binary compatible with computers. As a consiquence to this absence of forethought by the media companies, the Internet is bursting at the seams with their media. Whose fault is that? The media company’s, obviously. Who do these companies want to pay for their mistakes? Based upon their actions and statements, everyone but themselves, it would seem. That’s hardly fair, now is it.

    Indeed, I am fed up with the Internet being pushed around by big business [and business that thinks it’s still big]. Just as logical as it would be to punish all Internet users for the absence of forethought of the media companies [ by charging them all a $5/month tax, etc.] would it be to ban all copyrighted content on the Internet. The truth of the matter is that these companies made their beds and they are unwilling to sleep in them. Boo fucking hoo.

    I am also fed up with truly important matters of local, national, and world importance taking a back seat to something as meaningless as the property rights to recordings of music. Performance rights are one thing, because someone actually has get out of bed and DO something to earn their money, but prerecorded music? It’s worth only the hardware it’s printed upon, in so far as it is removable from said hardware. Farmers really do feed cities, eh, and they are a hurting bunch in this country. Shouldn’t we deal with them first if we’re needing to add new taxes to this country?


  11. Anthony Power says:

    R. Bassett,
    I’m still not sure I understand your point. But I hope you understand that copyright law is not just about recording companies and downloading MP3s. Scientific research and education, for example, rely critically on the fair use and dissemination of copyrighted electronic material through the internet. I’m sure you can appreciate that progress in these areas is vital for maintaining a healthy and competitive Canadian economy. This especially includes sectors such as agriculture, which as you point out is important to many Canadians. Any new legislation that limits or prohibits the use of electronically disseminated, copyrighted material will set the Canadian economy back by about 20 years or so. Surely you agree?

  12. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Anthony Power,

    I understand it all and I am making light of how ego centric the recording industry is and how the media only focuses on iPods and music, when the issue of copyright encompasses the whole of our freedoms in our nation.

    I “get it”.

    In the past few months I have peppered this site with comments on the issue, but to sum up how I feel about the situation I will conclude (with my point),

    1. With all of the truly important issues that need to be addressed here and around the world, so much time is being wasted on helping subsidize a failing industry that really caused its own problems and it pisses me off. Where are our priorities as a nation?
    2. The media and the media mogul entities (Sony BMG, Warner, etc), especially the RIA, are far over stepping their bounds by pushing to curtail the rights and freedoms of pretty much every person and every entity in Canada to make up for their own mistakes – give me a bloody break! Our current copyright laws are sufficient to ensure that real cases of commercial infringement are dealt with, as can be plainly seen by reviewing headline cases of RCMP raids and arrests that took place using our current laws. I suppose they may not be perfect, but they certainly do not needed to ammended in a DMCA manner either.
    3. The CRTC decided not to regulate the Internet and the RCMP decided that they will not go after individual file sharers. I think this sends a pretty damned clear message about Canadian priorities when it comes to copyright and if the RIA/MPAA, etc. don’t get, then too damned bad for them. There is no need for Canadians and Canadian industry to suffer, becuase one group of short sighted loud mouths in the United States don’t care about anyone other than themselves.

    I hope that clarifies my position on the matter of the current copyright debate, as perpetrated by a handful of lobby groups from the USA who have “manufactured our concent” [ link ] for so long that many Canadians actually believe our copyright laws aren’t any good…