61 Reforms to C-61, Day 1: Remedy the Lack of Consultation

Today marks the first day of the House of Commons summer recess, yet there are just 61 weekdays until it is scheduled to resume on September 15th.  In light of that numerical coincidence, I am planning to run a 61 Reforms for C-61 series by posting a new necessary reform to the deeply flawed Canadian DMCA each weekday thoughout the recess.  Many of the proposed changes will unsurprisingly focus on the anti-circumvention provisions.  The 61 day series will be aggregated here (and I should note that my site now features a modest change with many of the C-61 postings readily accessible through pull-down menus in the top right corner).

The next 60 postings will identify specific flawed provisions in the bill or reforms that were not included.  To start the series, however, one post on how we got here.   It should be emphasized that Industry Minister Jim Prentice failed to properly consult the public before introducing C-61. The last full copyright consultation occurred in 2001, a timeframe that pre-dates the iPod and Facebook.  There have been several House of Commons committee hearings that touch on copyright, though only one – the 2004 Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage Bulte report – directly focused on copyright reform.  In my view, there is something fundamentally wrong about meeting with representatives from foreign governments and a handful of copyright lobbyists, while refusing to make time for education, consumer, and public interest groups.  Indeed, many of the flaws in C-61 could have been addressed in advance with a proper consultation.

That said, Bill C-61 is a reality.  My first reform is that the government should remedy the way in which this bill came about by ensuring that all voices are now heard.  This will require a commitment to extensive committee consultations, including ample opportunity for Canadians to air their views, cross-country hearings to ensure access for all, and a willingness to take as long as needed to get this bill right.  The Standing Committee on Industry is expected to take the lead and there should be significant time allocated toward consultations.  Moreover, given the subject matter, the committee should work to identify methods of participation that extend beyond the (largely inaccessible) committee structure.  This could include electronic town halls, online submissions, crowdsourced interviews, and more accessible methods of identifying proposed amendments to the bill.   Too much of Bill C-61 reflects backroom dealings.  The time has come to ensure that the future process better reflects Canadian voices and values.


  1. The last full copyright consultation occurred in 2001, a timeframe that pre-dates the iPod and Facebook.

    Not that the 2001 consultation mattered anyway. The public said a lot of things they didn’t want to hear, so Industry and Heritage just quietly pretended that nothing every happened.

  2. About the Bill…
    “That said, Bill C-61 is a reality.”

    By that do you mean the Bill is already in effect?

  3. Focus on anti-circumvention
    “Many of the proposed changes will unsurprisingly focus on the anti-circumvention provisions.”

    I think this is an excellent plan. Much of our efforts are discounted as tying to stop penalties for unauthorized downloads of copyrighted material. This is not the case: the penalties for downloading and distributing copyrighted material appear to be relatively fair.

    But, why should I be punished for time-shifting, device-shifting and backing up content that I’ve paid for the right to use, as long as I don’t distribute it unfairly?

  4. fair!?
    “I think this is an excellent plan. Much of our efforts are discounted as tying to stop penalties for unauthorized downloads of copyrighted material. This is not the case: the penalties for downloading and distributing copyrighted material appear to be relatively fair.”

    for example you will not be able to post any refference material to back-up your arguments’; or make parody =critical of the system; also i bet you have in your “cache” SOME downloaded “copyright” material that you might not even awar of it. the problem here is that the WHOLE bill restricts your rights not only as a consumer but as a CITIZEN. please read the fine prints on ALL subject more carefully!

  5. Plain Language
    Fist thing should be to clearly state which activities you want illegal, and which legal, and then work to a law that represents those issues. This bill is the other way around – you\’ve got a bunch of contradictory statements and no way to figure what is legal and illegal.

    I\’m sure that lack of consultation is wrong, but consultation won\’t fix this bill, as it\’s pretty simple to see that the purpose of the bill is to ignore the needs of users of copyright.

  6. this whole bill takes away freedom of speach; there are ALREADY laws to deal with copyright infrigments since 1976 and people that made commercial use of such things are already in jail! the last thing we need is for private use infrigments to have penalties higher then for CRIMINAL ones!?

    freedom of speach is the aspect that threatens big business profits the most, becouse people have the CHANCE to be aware of publicity scams BEFORE they buy any product. and intellectual property has ever been public in the end. personally i am sick of such COMMERCIAL “property “…. the word INTELLECTUAL and PROFIT do not go together. to start with,it can not be “creative” if it is MADE for profit. support artists DIRECTLLY and not by means to support the middle man too. this coorporate music “producers” etc, need to get a life and WORK for a living like the rest of us and not push up scam laws just so they can still get paid for doing NOTHING. this laws are made for DISTRIBUTION chanels and not for the ARTISTS, wich get the biggest advantage from file sharing promotions. now they will be FORCED to sign-up with labels so they can get PARTS of profit. is it that HARD to see this aspects as they are!?

  7. Clarification on Reality
    Reality meaning that it is a document that has had first reading, thus it is in the process of becoming law. Unless greater forces intervene (other then the usual political banter in the House)then by the fall it will be made into the law…

  8. p2p for all
    Legalise p2p by charging around 3$ to 4$ a month per user. A fee that would amount nearly to a billion dollars a year. Give it back to the creators and then \\\”MOVE ON\\\”… It would amount to a 10% increase on a monthly bill, so I guess we could live with it.

    If you would add it up to all countrys that would do the same, I hope it would be enough for those copyright holders to shut the hell up and help create stuff instead treating their \\\”music consumers\\\” as thieves.

    Excuse my english people.

    Bonne Fête Nationale

  9. Windsong4 says:

    re: p2p for all
    “Legalise p2p by charging around 3$ to 4$ a month per user. A fee that would amount nearly to a billion dollars a year.” You are missing the point entirely. The RIAA/MPAA will NEVER be satisfied with only a billion per year. They have shown this repeatedly. At this stage it is not only about the money. It is about control. Besides, it wouldn’t go to the artists anyway…but rather the suits who publish them.

    Control for the corporate overlords means tracking you 24/7, spamming you with ads, and charging you for pressing the “mute” button on your remote control during commercials.

  10. re: p2p for all
    well said, my thoughts exactly; me and my friends know this very well and for long time now we stoped buying any cds/dvs from the \”big\” guys in town like \”wall-mart\” or \”hmv\”.also never consider anything played on radio( 10-20 times/day!?!?!) as serious, even if it might be \”good\” to a certain extent.and we are not teenagers with revolting thoughts just for the sake of it.we must make sure that \”intelectual property\” remains creative to provide soul food for our kids and generations to come. we are sick enitire of manipulations. the best way to support your artist this days is by his/her own website access, the best road taken
    to avoid filling the pockets of any \”exec.\” that only wants us to pay for what HE/SHE thinks is worth to do so for. they just use YOUR money to get back at you (lobysts and lawyers are perfect examples). the more you pay the more you are requiered to do so in the end, that is all it comes down to when mixing ANY creativity with BOTTOM line numbers!.

    as compared with movies wich DO cost money to produce, even bad ones (we agree to a certain extent there) music and ANY other creativity does not, as long as the artists themselves are not FORCED to join major labels of pay DISTRIBUTION FEES THAT ARE EVER INCREASING. this age is much easier to create simply becouse the HUGE amount of art that already exists and TECHNOLOGY.

    the problem lies in the distribution becouse those people KNOW they lost control, so try harder and harder to \”regulate\” it so they can still get a paycheque for \”promotions\” that are not NECESSARY to start with. art will always be ON DEMAND, humans will always NEED entretainment, and there will always be money to be made of it FOR the artist regardless of \”loss\” reported.

    the \”upcoming\” artists and \”newcommers\” are much more in numbers then the \”established\” ones. talking about DEMOCRACY, who\’s RIGHTS SHOULD WE BE UPHOLDING MORE THEN????

  11. Crosbie Fitch says:

    Appeal to Greed
    As I wrote once before in “Good Copyright, Bad Copyright” [ link ] the only way you’ll get gentler copyright legislation passed is if it is at the same time harsher, i.e. let the cartel have a cruel copyright, but give citizens copyleft by default.

    Frankly, the only amendments I’d make to C-61 that would have any hope of being supported would be to criminalise ‘possession of unauthorised copies’.

    The sooner (c) is properly recognised as a symbol of cultural repression the better.

    You won’t get more liberty by asking for it from those who make money out of its suspension (or even those lobbied by them). You will get complete liberty however, if the privilege of copyright is made so nasty that no-one touches it with a barge pole. This is of course happening anyway, but you might as well hasten it.

  12. TY
    I like the new website layout with this hot topic grouped. No searching!

  13. re: p2p for all
    I have got to agree with the other comments on the idea of a p2p levy. It assumes that I am to commit an illegal act, downloading illegal copies of copyrighted works (there goes innocent until proven guilty). Why stop there? Why not increase the amount that I pay for my driver’s license to cover fines for the speeding that it is assumed that I do?

    Given that my dial-up line at home gives me about 19200 bits per second on a good day, why would I pay $3 per month to allow me to download a 3 MByte song which takes about 45 minutes to download? I just don’t do it, it takes far longer than it is worth.

  14. re: p2p for all
    It doesn’t assume that you are to commit a legal act, it makes said acts legal.

    If you had the right to download that song, and were paying for it, would that be such a problem? I mean, we already pay such a fee on CD & DVD blank media (though amusingly none of the money from that goes to software devs, who probably have just as much of their software copied with said media).

    Of course, it will never happen…

  15. No Point in Pleading
    I\’ve been following this subject now for quite some time, reading all the comments, complaints and plans to lobby and plead with the legislators, and I\’ve come to one sad conclusion – it will have little or no affect on the current Government.

    Many readers have contributed excellent logical arguments and suggestions, both for and against various aspects of this proposed legislation, but I believe that if logic and reason would sway this government, it would have happened a long time ago and we would not be in this situation now.

    No, I believe this bunch in Ottawa have their own agenda which they will pursue to the bitter end, regardless of the wishes of Canadians. They will not deviate from their plan, they will merely adjust the \”spin\” to obscure the real intent and deny that there is any problem at all. Or they will mount a personal attack on their critics, anything but address the issue at hand.

    The only \”argument\” which will focus their attention, is the possibility of losing an election, and it is this \”argument\” which we must use if we hope to have any chance of defeating this terrible legislation.

    I suggest one method of reducing any electoral support, is if everyone who finds this bill offensive/flawed, would write to their friends, relatives, co-workers – anyone, and solicit their support in defeating this government in the next election, AND (this is the important part) send a copy of your letters to the PMO, your local MP and the Conservative Party.
    Urge everyone to vote for anyone BUT the Conservatives. If there is sufficient turmoil – even a slight possibility that some sitting MPs may lose their cushy seat, THEY will find a way drop this proposed bill. It will die on the order paper when the next election is called.

    We must restore the concept that they work for us – and if they do not follow our instructions – they will be fired!

  16. I\’ll be very happy if the Conservatives lose the next election. But though copyright is important, sorry, it\’s not going to influence my vote. Social issues, education, defence, health, law and order, troops getting killed in Afghanistan – seriously, these matter less than anti-circumvention laws? No wonder Jim Prentice ignored this blog.

  17. I’ll be very happy if the Conservatives lose the next election. But though copyright is important, sorry, it’s not going to influence my vote. Social issues, education, defence, health, law and order, troops getting killed in Afghanistan – seriously, these matter less than anti-circumvention laws? No wonder Jim Prentice ignored this blog.

  18. re: happy if the conservatives loose
    That’s just it mr or mrs anonymous, copyright is a social issue, and in this case it’s also an issue of law and order, because if this bill passes and becomes law, then a very large percentage of the Canadian public just became criminals. Whether or not the police uphold the law and take part in bringing in people he break it is irrelevant, just because you haven’t been arrested, doesn’t mean you’re not a criminal, it just means you don’t have a record.

  19. What does it matter?
    What does it matter…

    There isn’t a single problem that matters more then another. Problems are problems and as smaller as a problem could seem it could have devastating consequences (expecially when it is going to affect a majority of the population). About troops getting killed in Afghanistan the problem has even the same root (American invasive politics).

    Did you ever heard about the butterfly effect? (Chaos theory) [ link ]

    “The flapping of a butterfly’s wings in your garden might create a tornado in another part of the world.”

  20. my problem with bill c-61
    What bothers me the most about this bill is that it seems to automatically assume that EVERY copyrighted work traded via p2p is ripping off the copyright holder. That\’s simply not true. Suppose someone is sharing their old record collection. Any payment due the copyright holder on those recordings has already been been paid 30, 40 or 50 years ago. And if you sell your old record collection, do you have to give the copyright holder a cut? No, that would be ludicrous. And what about a used cd? Again, the copyright holder gets nothing from that. Therefore why should you not be able to share them online, since in both cases the copyright holder is in no way being ripped off. I can kinda see how breaking the drm should be unlawful – but if I knew the cd I was buying had it, I wouldn\’t buy it anyway.

  21. Anonymous says:

    If this bill gets past, Canada will not be the same again!! Its taking away our freedom from the charter!!! Still alot of Canadians are unaware of such a bill, therefore its our job to let people know so we all have a fighting chance before its to late!!!

  22. WILLIAM VEGA says:


  23. to be or not to be….
    hi there,
    as i know, nobody owns the internet so nobody shall not make laws for internet. as it was spoken above, if i have an old collection (for that i have payed some money, sometimes a lot of money)who can stop me to share this collection? it’s ok when two peoples are in the same town but what happens with peoples across the globe? they have to travel a lot of miles for a cd? i don’t think so.
    [b]A person’s right to have access to any information of public interest can not be restricted.[/b]
    i think that this phrase is missing in their vocabulary…

  24. Bill C61
    What’s particularly SCARY about bill C61, is making it ILLEGAL to unlock a cell phone.

    There are several things wrong with this proposal:

    1) It’s your physical property. What you do with it SHOULD be within your rights. It’s no different than modifying my dryer to operate on hydrogen (genius-permitting :P).

    2) The technologies that ALLOW non-locked cell phones to switch seamlessly between carriers is called “standardization”. These standards are open, known, and free, which contributes to their success, and greater technological advances on the large scale.

    3) The ability to lock these phones costs resources. These resources are payed for by the manufacturers, which in turn are payed for by the carriers, and eventually the consumers. Why are the consumers being LEGALLY forced to pay for a locking mechanism on something that’s counter-technologically-advancive in the FIRST PLACE?!?!?!? And here now, they’re being forced to leave that mechanism in place, even though it has no purpose than to create a barrier that blocks a consumer from switching seamlessly between different providers that are already COMPATIBLE.

    An analogy to what’s going on, at a somewhat lower level, would be to create a locking mechanism that permits “only apple computers can be plugged into the 120V electrical outlets within government buildings”, even thought ALL computers can clearly operate with those outlets WITHOUT the locking mechanism, and then create a law that makes it ILLEGAL to remove the locking mechanism.

    It’s REDUNDANT. A PURE WASTE at multiple levels, where the only benefactor within this transaction is the one selling the damned cellphone that’s ALREADY compatible with all networks that use its’ respective protocol. Someone remind me, WHY is such a salesman LEGALLY allowed to prevent the use of STANDARDIZATION, by making it a LEGAL requirement to keep a locking mechanism on such a phone to stop this standardization!??! Who AUTHORIZED such abuse of lawmaking?!?

    What’s even MORE interesting; why are the manufacturers the only ones allowed to benefit from not having to reinvent these standards? The customers are the ones that are using them, yet for some reasons, we’re LEGALLY going to make it impossible to switch, even though that’s what the technology was MADE for?!?!

    They’re making use a cellular standard, which MANY carriers use, then making a physical problem that reduces the use of this standard, and now making it ILLEGAL for this problem to be prevented. Does something sound WRONG about this at a FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL!

    This wastes resources, money, time, effort… it is a WASTE. We should be making laws PREVENTING THIS!!!!!

  25. GovernementBasher says:

    Waste of time and money.
    It’s normal, they are workers of the governement, no skills whatsoever…
    Samething as corporates…corpse thieves!

  26. Terrence F. Mehmel says:

    Star choice and Expressvu
    While in the market for a replacement receiver for my Star Choice system I was shocked top learn that a person can’t record a program off of the Star Choice receivers as they have put some software in there to prevent that. The young lady that I spoke to wouldn’t verify it but she didn’t deny the fact that it was a way of getting people to buy their PVR at $700.

    I am not sure if the Bell systems are the same though.

    Isn’t this just like the government to cave in to the corporations rather than look after the tax payers.

    From previous experiences I have seen how these two corporations work and how the government doers things to help them out.

    I’m sure that if you were to look in to this you would find how that a lobbyist for these companies has made a deal to get governments backing on this.

    If you wish to discuss this further with me I will explain what my past experiences mean and how I know what I am talking about. It may surprise you to learn how these companies work. It has nothing to do with copyright law, it has to deal with lining the corporations pockets plain and simple