Prentice Calls for “Extensive Copyright Discussions”. . . After the Canadian DMCA Is Introduced

Industry Minister Jim Prentice appeared on CBC's Biznet (RAM file) this morning to talk copyright.  As Prentice talked about companies who "intellectualize property" and copyright as "a fascinating issue and a fascinating piece of legislation," he did not reveal much about the forthcoming bill.  Instead, he relied on the same talking points that he has raised in the past – WIPO ratification, criticism from trading partners (ie. the U.S.), and business wants this law.  Given that these arguments are easily countered, the government either needs a new communication strategy or a new copyright bill.  Hopefully, it will be the latter. 

Regardless, the remarks make it clear that Prentice is currently not inclined to consult the public before introducing the Canadian DMCA.  Instead, he will leave it to a parliamentary committee, which he said will engage in "extensive discussions about all of these issues."  Of course, this approach will help lock in the bill since unless it is sent to committee after first reading, there are significant restrictions on potential changes.  For example, if the bill does not address fair dealing, then no alteration of the fair dealing provision would be permitted.  Moreover, unless the committee undertakes to conduct national hearings and to find a mechanism to hear from the tens of thousands of Canadians that have spoken out on the bill, the danger with this approach is that the usual copyright lobby groups will dominate the debate.

Every bill needs an open, transparent committee review.  Given the concerns associated with a Canadian DMCA, that alone is not good enough. Canadians needs assurances that the government will adopt a balanced, fair approach to copyright that avoids the consequences of the DMCA and they need to have their voices heard as input into the bill itself.  Prentice cannot punt that to a committee – it is his responsibility as the public will hold him accountable and will be looking for more than tired talking points on an issue that even he acknowledges affects millions of Canadians.


  1. uhhhh ….. yikes
    “a fascinating issue and a fascinating piece of legislation”

    Wow thats scary. This is the man who is essentially deciding how 30 million Canadians get to use their own purchased media and goods, and that quote sounds like he got some shiny new fangled gadget the kids are playing with. Instead of reading ‘research’ blurbs the industry is no doubt feeding him, how about his department actually starts talking like they understand both sides of the issue.

  2. …”As we look to the future and having Canada on the ‘cutting edge’… it is important that we have a copyright regime that is cutting edge.”

    Interesting how the phrase cutting edge seems to roll of the Minister’s tongue. Sadly the many restrictions in the DCMA have only served to limit business development in the USA resulting in mediocrity at best – NOT cutting edge, rather more like a wedge!

  3. It’s not at all “cutting edge”; the WIPO requirements were before the WWW really exploded (ie fax technology) and they went obsolete shortly thereafter. Then they went obsolete again when the American DMCA proved such a dismal failure. And then it went obsolete the third time when 3 of 4 major record labels abandoned the DRM technology which lies at the centre of the DMCA.

    It’s cutting edge elevator operator technology.

  4. Fair Dealing
    For those who are interested in “Fair Dealing” and what it is (in the US), there is an interesting report here
    [ link ]

    Now all I have to do is find a way to get the Industry Minister to read it.

  5. Why modeling USA?
    In 1948 Orwell wrote “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” I hope this won’t be the beginning of the British Empire’s Oceania.
    All joking apart I do not understand why we have to model the law of the only western country that apply the dead penalty as punishment and not modeling the laws of countries in the old world which seem to me a little less severe and more democratic.

  6. Chris Beck says:

    I just did a quick review of Canadian parliamentary procedure and I can’t see anywhere that calls for a bill to go to committee before the second reading. In addition, the committee is allowed to review and amend each clause. Surely the amendment function will allow for the addition of fair-dealing exemptions, notice-and-notice, &c. Or is your point simply that if we don’t get them in the bill before reading then our lame representatives will not bother to stand up for us, regardless of their party (which is frankly a very believable point).

  7. It’s a shame that Prentice won’t do the democratic thing and make this an open, transparent debate that includes all Canadians. Unfortunately, this is not new. Canadian history is rife with exclusive committees and councils. CANARIE, the National Broadband Task Force, the Information Highway Advisory Council, among others, were all closed processes. They had the illusion of transparency and openness, which is of course required in order to portray legitimacy. But at the heart of it, ordinary Canadians were by and large excluded from the process. The councils/committees were stacked in the favour of business. Network neutrality and this Canadian version of the DMCA are but more modern examples of an ill democratic process.

  8. “Millions” of Canadians is much too soft. It affects every Canadian who goes to school, reads, listens to radio, watches tv, owns a stereo or owns a digital device such as a computer.

  9. Adam
    @ Chris Beck, I don’t think there’s a problem amending any existing clauses, but if a fair-dealing clause doesn’t already exist, there’s not going to be anything to amend. That was my take on it.

  10. Chris Beck says:

    @ Adam – sure, but you can amend any appropriate offense clauses to change: “It is an offense to infringe on any copyrighted material as defined under this act.” to “It is an offense to infringe on any copyrighted material as defined under this act unless the primary goal of the use falls under the concept of fair-dealing.”


    Honestly, I think the tricky part will be finding an MP willing to actually try to but something like that in.

  11. Jean Naimard says:

    Perhaps the minister needs a reminder
    Perhaps the minister needs a reminder that the government is elected by the people, not by the companies.

  12. The Minister was on Biznet? The show that is on so early no one generally listens to it?

    The Minister is keeping a pretty low profile on this, and I won’t be surprised (given the nature of Biznet) to hear that that industry interests set up that interview for him.

  13. Edward Palonek says:

    [ link ] Bottom line, corporations who do not know the future of consumer behavior have direct influence on the copyright bill. So its a shoot and miss game.

  14. Scary indeed…

    Consider this: The RIAA and CRIA say that we\’re all downloading/pirating music which has drastically cut into their profits. Piracy has been around since records met reel-to-reel. Some things that have changed though are $500 million dollar profiting movies, skyrocketing fuel prices ($100 fill up anyone?)and yet the music industry has not. Where do these idiot executives and government officials think all this money is coming from?? I don\’t know about anyone else but: I\’m an average income earner. I don\’t have money to throw around. And I also think that the majority of music being produced is complete crap. I\’m more thrifty with my money and look for deals. If I don\’t need something I don\’t get it– usually. I also have more needs that my money requires– most people/families have budgets as do I. Somethings have to suffer: no eating out, no buying that new computer or stereo, no shopping sprees, no more trips to Hawaii or Disneyland (oh crap Disney\’s a media company too)– oh yeah and no $20 CD from a band and record executives that are already millionaires based on technology that is over 20 years old– try and sell a 20 year old computer for it\’s original sticker price. And yet laws are being passed by governments that are essentially putting George Orwell\’s boot to our collective human faces. Did RIAA/CRIA ever think that money is being stretched to it\’s limits this day and age by the middle-income consumer that\’s why they\’re profits are sinking like the Titanic? Naw, neither did their high-priced million dollar lawyers. By the way, is there anyone willing to be robbed, for cash, by me so I can buy some CDs and DVDs to appease the entertainment companies, who have apparently bought our politicians, so I can keep my legal rights as a Canadian?

  15. It is time to write letters to the Minister again.

    This “commission” is unacceptable, because only the interest of large corporations are represented. There MUST be a PUBLIC commission similar to Bouchard-Taylor in Quebec.

    DMCA caused too much damage in USA, Canada can’t afford going through that phase.

  16. I call for an FULL Investigation on Jim Prentice as I have a huge feeling he was paid off by the lobbyists to say what he is saying and doing what he is doing.

  17. Mr. Prentice should think about his political furture, if he were smart. Lobby money alone can’t get you the PM’s office.

  18. Exactly – how much money / gifts from lobbyists has Prentice received? Any good way of finding out?

  19. While I am disappointed that Mr. Prentice still doesn’t consider the public to be worth consulting with, it sounds like at least DRM may become a minor issue very soon anyway. Ars Technica is reporting that the last big label holdout, Sony, is actually illustrating on their website how to remove DRM protection from WMA files for use on iPods. Sony is surely the one of the bunch that would need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the DRM cesspool, but as long as they keep losing money over it, they’ll have to come around eventually.

    [ link ]

  20. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Fair Dealing? What about Fair WARNING!
    As an average Canadian who has extensive computer knowledge (with usage going back to the early 1990s), I will need at least one month of notice to shore up my home and eliminate any potentially infringing items or content. In fact, doing this would mean obliterating my entire personal data archive as it stands now, as I’d have to pick through every CD/DVD/Disk and pick out all the pieces I want to keep and they re-archive them. All this to avoid getting a visit from the Copyright Gestapo and having to ruin my family’s life, because at some point I aquired _________ piece of software or ________ piece of hardware that has the potential to be used to infringe on copyright. The worst part of it all is that I will honestly have no idea what I can keep and what can’t, so I’ll just have to go burn it all to be on the safe side.

    In fact, I would be happy if the government gave us a 10 year pardron to help individuals and businesses make the transition. If we do not recieve any pardon at all, expect to be served within days of the act becoming law, as almost every Canadian will be a “digital criminal”, knowingly or otherwise…

  21. pat donovan says:

    a cam corder bill in 6 weeks and you expect the CONserv’tives to back off DMA?
    people shouting at him in calgary helped a lot more.
    that’s a fairly broad hint, people.
    won’t it be cute if shaping traffic (ala being rogered, telused,etc) had NO effect on cd sales?
    welcome to web 2.0, the sanitized web. Like county fairs, when cleaned up, it will die.

  22. Perceived vs Actual IP Value
    I’m sorry but Mr. Prentice is a complete and utter idiot.

    Locking all this “valuable” content down and criminalizing civil matters is just a HUGE waste of taxpayers (that would be OUR money).

    I think the problem with all this talk about “intellectual property” is really about perceived versus actual value.

    The recording companies, movie and television studios all seem to be talking in terms of their “perceived” value that they attached to the IP they distribute which at times seems just north of Pluto while consumers seem to attach a more accurate value to similar IP.

    After all, John Steward said it best. Why would Viacom sue Google for a billion or so dollars for copyright infringement only to post the very same “valuable IP” on their own site for FREE?

    I’m sorry, if these companies and studios are making the same “valuable IP” available for FREE online or over air (radio) how can they possibly expect consumers to associate the same “perceived” value to their IP as they do.

    Oh and Mr. Prentice is still an idiot!