Broadcasters Claim Copyright at the Breaking Point

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, which represents television and radio broadcasters across the country, has jumped into the copyright reform debate.  In an op-ed in this week's Hill Times, CAB President Glenn O'Farrell warns that radio broadcasters are at the breaking point on copyright, pointing to escalating tariffs that could grow to $200 million per year if Industry Minister Jim Prentice introduces his Canadian DMCA.  O'Farrell argues that:

"If a new fee proposed by the record labels is approved, additional payments from Canadian broadcasters to the labels – many based outside Canada – are expected to total approximately $50 million per year.  In claiming this fee, these labels are looking to take advantage of a provision in Canada's Copyright Act to compensate themselves for losses they say they have incurred via Internet downloading.  Rather than adapting their business models to the opportunities presented by evolving digital media, the labels are engaging in what is essentially an abuse of the principles of the Copyright Act."

The editorial concludes by arguing that "the government needs to restore a true balance between the rights of creators and users." With the powerful Canadian broadcasting community speaking out against Prentice's plans, the list of opponents and concerned parties gets longer every week as it now includes consumers, education groups, retailers such as Best Buy, telecommunications companies such as Telus, musician groups, artists groups, privacy groups, and more than 40,000 Canadians on the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group.


  1. What the CAB wants is free content

  2. Bit rich, the broadcasters criticizing others for not adapting their business models to digital technology!

  3. If they really want to put the kibosh on illegal filesharing, they ought to make it impractical for residential internet access subscribers to run any sort of service of any kind on their computers by blocking absolutely *all* incoming connection requests, as well as any incoming UDP packets that weren’t responses to a previous outgoing request. This sort of thing would probably have to be required by law so that switching providers wouldn’t matter, and any communications provider that didn’t block their residential users from this sort of thing could be held responsible for such activities when it was technically within their means to prohibit them. The level of internet access that would be available for residential users would be perfectly adequate for probably 80% of its users who were not involved in some form of file sharing already, and the remainder would simply be forced to escalate their level of service to one where you have to pay strictly by how much traffic you actually have, and not just a flat rate every month, which for major file sharers would be vastly more expensive than residential access, and would considerably reduce their numbers… almost invariably far below the epidemic proportions that illegal file sharing has achieved already.

  4. to the above:

    Blocking filesharing is a silly, prohibition-esque approach that will royally screw legitimate filesharers and simply cause the black market to find an alternate means.

    Your claim that it will not affect 80% of users is not valid; the home user’s internet connection is used for increasingly advanced and diverse purposes. Blocking all incoming connection requests? Your view of internet usage is overly-simplistic to say the least if you think this is will affect only 20% of users. What if I wanted to host a game of Half Life? Or a person starting up a home business wanted to host a net meeting?

    The internet is fundamentally about sharing data, and turning off certain techniques because they’re especially good at enabling data sharing is a doomed premise.

  5. Interesting…
    In response to the above suggestion: how much data is too much data? At what point do your bandwidth needs and patterns clearly identify you as a miscreant?

    What if you have six machines lending processor time to legitimate efforts like SETI signals analysis? Or what if you post your own, popular works online for public download? What if you are legitimately sharing large files (research doc’s, etc.)? Should these people be punished by such a short-sighted plan?

    Crippling the technology is not the answer…

  6. Look who’s talking
    Here is a quote from the Canadian Copyright Office:
    “All radio stations pay a permanent preferential rate of $100 annually on the first $1.25 million of advertising revenue. This rule results in approximately 65% of Canadian radio stations paying only $100.”
    Obviously it’s the big guys who are complaining. They’re not the ones of much value to the community anyway.
    BTW: I note that the person posting about controlling “any sort of service etc.” on residential computers was too ashamed to even use a pseudonym… and so they should be. That level of computer understanding is not acceptable any more.

  7. I agree with Trails and Patrick about any caps being rather wrong-headed. Filters cripple Canadian access to information and resources available to people in other countries.

    Much of the hideous “free” content out there is free because it is offered that way. Microsoft and the record labels have said that they can’t compete with “free”. The best way to combat people who do things for the joy of it (not the profit margin) is to eliminate their delivery systems.

    It has never been easier to create something and distribute it world-wide for almost no overhead.

    So, why would people say the best thing to do is filter it out of existence?

  8. Want Facts – Not Rhetoric
    The broadcasters are speaking out of both sides of their mouth and now so is Mr. Geist. The broadcasters want content for free so they can get richer and richer – have you seen the bottom lines of some of these broadcast companies lately? Many times on this blog and the FCC group have we seen people saying big companies want to get richer by manipulating the copyright reform process – and now Mr. Geist is supporting that too – I don’t get it – credibility is waning on this one!

  9. Want Facts – Not Rhetoric
    And sorry am I missing something – a new fee proposed by the record labels and is in Prentice’s bill – did a bill happen that I do not know about – has O’Farrell seen something wee haven’t? Is there a fee the record labels have said publicly they plan to get through the copyright reform process? Help educate me please either I am missing something or this is plain rhetoric!

  10. SPIDER MAN 1.6BILLION says:

    1.6 billion as a franchise for ol stan lee and crew guess how much more there entire genre add in DC comics moves and you have billions for the top ten.

    broadcasters charging me 80$ for TV i can get off the net WITHOUT there DAMN commercials.

    THE MOVIES yah right 12$ pop n popcorn , 10$ ticket and double that for your gf , cheaper to take here to a steak dinner with wine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    not only do you not have ot put up with a ton a whiney kids looming around, but the setting is nicer.

    My GOD they are just all so greedy.
    Do you need to make 50 billion a year for so little work
    Do hockey players and football players have capped salaries?????
    Don’t baseball players also have caps , WHY DON”T ACTORS.

  11. Okay, you\’re right. Sure, why not. I\’ll just hand over the rights to every damn thing I ever bought and promise never to come out with derivative works so that some of the lowest scum in the business world continue to make money.

    Why? Well, of course because some commentors decided this was better then letting broadcasters make money.

    What the hell difference does it make that this would work in the broadcaster\’s favor? The alternative is far far worse. And -any- opposition to some of the stuff this bill would allegedly contain is a good thing.

  12. A good thing
    I have to agree with \”realyst\” above: \”What the hell difference does it make that this would work in the broadcaster\’s favor?\” My earlier post was a knee jerk reaction.

    Regardless of any greed on the part of the broadcasters, they are a powerful lobby and they are a help to our cause. This is a good thing. I would also think that any hardship imposed by the record labels\’ ideas would hit all the smaller stations disproportionately harder than the big ones. That would be another blow to free speech. Public broadcasting is top heavy enough as it is.

  13. reading through an article at [ link ]. Not sure how they are going to determine what is an illegal download/copyright infringement, but this looks like an attempt to further reduce the freedom of the internet.

  14. From a cultural point of view I’m happy that government and business lobbies are going to fight piracy. In fact most of the artifacts being illegally downloaded are just crap. People will be driven towards free and legal alternatives which have a more cultural value and which will forge the next generation. In the past who was in power was using cheap and free entertainment to distract people from thinking. I’m happy to know that in a way people will be pushed to start thinking again.

  15. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Internet Usage
    Since getting back on “high speed” (don’t get me started on reliability…) Internet in Dec 2006, I’ve likely download around 50-60GB of data, consisting of Linux distributions and software updates for Windows, Linux, and various online games. Sometimes I’ve used Bittorrent for iso downloads of larger distributions, but the BT implementation in World of Warcaft doesn’t work through my ISP at all, so I have to use direct download for WoW. My ISP admits to “traffic shaping”, yet the only thing it does is block my access to some legitimate services that I pay for.

    Incidentally, the best Linux distributions I have used are:
    Laptop: Kubuntu 7.04
    Desktop: Kubuntu 7.04 or Fedora 8. SuSe is decent, but the life cycles are short.
    Old Hardware: Damn Small Linux
    Learning Linux: Slackware 7 through 12, depending on hardware age.

    Anyhow, my point is that it’s perfectly possible to use a lot of bandwidth and a number of network services doing pretty mundane, legitimate things (especially updating Windows XP after a reinstall…). If ISPs were to take steps to block illegal downloads, legitimate uses would (and do) fail to work as well. For me, it would mean I’d have to waste time and money on shipping and handling for Linux CDs or DVDs that I used to be able to download in the wee hours of the night and I may or may not still be able to play online games – who knows.

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

    Given the complexity and importance of the Internet, it’s best we do as little as possible to break its functionality. There are better ways to protect “Intellectual Property”.