Columnists Sound Off on C-61

While I've been focusing on the many Canadian editorials criticizing Bill C-61, it is worth noting that mainstream media columnists are focusing on the issue as well.  The Globe and Mail's Ivor Tossel covers the issue today, suggesting that "the bill seems doomed to failure."  The article also includes a link to a podcast discussion of the issue.  Craig McInnes of the Vancouver Sun writes that:

C-61 is about greed, not just rewards, about stifling the age-old enjoyment of sharing music with friends. It imposes a rigid black-and-white legal framework on a multihued, free-flowing landscape. It's about insisting on horse-and-buggy etiquette in an automotive age.

Catherine Ford of the Calgary Herald, in a piece titled Copyright Law Would Turn Millions Into Criminals, says:

While the purported beneficiaries of the new act are those artists, the real beneficiaries will be the companies who publish, control and market such work. With the possible exception of an original piece of art, all intellectual property are copied and distributed by someone other than the creator. It is these middlemen who will profit from digital locks, regardless of the hype about copyright protection.

Update: Matthew Claxton of the Langley Advance writes that "the copyright bill will makes us crooks", while Ron Petrie of the Regina Leader-Post talks about how the law "will make it hard to live in the past."


  1. Prentice keeps harping about how C-61 will keep lawsuits from happenning in Canada. Well that’s bullsh*t. If we look at it as $500/copyrights holder, and the Thomas lawsuit in states awarded $750/ infringment that 2/3rds the amount or ~$150k. But if you look at the fact that each work has 3 copyrights holder that $1500/infringment or twice what they went after in the states AND that’s for downloads. Thomas was sued for uploads which under C-61 is $20,0000. Yeah that’ll keep them from sueing.
    Yes I know the Thomas case is probably going to be over turned due to making available not being a right, however, under c-61 it is. I find it hilarious that Prentice keeps repeating the CRIAA’s tired line of we won’t sue even if we have the right to….. bullsh*t. You will do what is in the best interest of your ‘owners’ bottom line, which as we have seen in the states is sueing everyone. Prentice has just made it easier to be done in Canada than in the states.

  2. Protection from bad DRM
    One thing I noticed is that there are no provisions in this bill C-61.
    That protects the customers // consumers of digital media that are protected from a
    Sony style root kit or bad DRM that compramises users systems ( computers )

    That it is against the law that is in C-61 will protect this type of DRM and create a criminal that cleans up there system after its been infected with a really bad DRM system

    Yet the content providers get away with it there has to be some protection for the public from really bad DRM.

    The way it is now it protects Root kits that are used for DRM.

    Also when someone buy DRM laiden music

    There should also be a clause if you DRM your music and go under that the music is unlocked so the people that bought it will not get screwed !!!

    Would it be a crime to break the lock on software music or movies etc when a company uses DRM and goes under ..?

    It is also not mentioned in the news papers or news in general.

    Besides why is the government pushing protecting DRM when the public does not want it

    My 2 Watts

  3. Darryl Moore says:

    $500 per lawsuit NOT infringement
    What a lot of people seem to be missing is that the $500 statutory damages is not per infringement. it is per lawsuit.

    34.1(1.1) “a defendant who is an individual is liable for statutory damages of $500 in respect of all the defendant’s infringements that were done for the defendant’s private purposes and that are involved in the proceedings.”

    So Prentice is right that you are not going to get massive lawsuits for private home infringement. However, you still have to ask, do we really want to be creating laws that we expect people to disobey. What is the point of making the law? and how can we instill respect for the law when the law makers are telling people, “oh yeah, don’t worry you wont get sued.” The likelihood of someone actually getting sued is completely beside the point of whether it is a good law or not.

    Finally, everything I just said goes out the window as soon as you put DRM on it. So expect to see more DRM and more lawsuits from breaking it.


  4. misleading
    I think “for the defendant’s private purposes” is the misleading key. First you are not able to bypass digital locks for private purposes (bypassing digital locks will cost you 20,000). Second downloading always imply uploading hence this kind of offence won’t fall under the “private purposes” umbrella. IMHO there are very few offences that could fall in the “defendant’s private purposes” and which would cost the offender only $500.

  5. Name Witheld says:

    @ Darryl Moore
    Thanks for the info. I had planned on writing a letter to the editor & with your info I revised it to:

    What has caused the most concern with this bill is the format-shifting provision, which is supposed to allow transfer of movies and music from one medium to another, say from CD to iPod. In this digital age, a growing number people also transfer their DVD collection to home theatre computers for easy cataloguing and viewing. While Bill C-61 allows such actions, providing there are no “digital locks” on the media, the author of the bill failed to realize that nearly all CDs and DVDs contain digital locks. This bill makes it illegal to produce, provide or use any tools to circumvent digital locks. Anybody doing so is classed as a criminal and can be sued, fined $20,000 and face jail.

    If people are wondering how the copyright holders would suspect you’ve downloaded copyright material, , the Anti-Counterfeiting-Trade Agreement (ACTA) secretly being negotiated with the U.S. forces ISPs to keep records of internet activity for six months, and disclose personal information, without consent, to both U.S. and Canadian people and corporations claiming copyright infringement.

    As written, the actual effect of this bill will be to make everybody who owns an MP3 player a criminal, along with anybody suspected of downloading copyrighted material. It will also stifle technological innovation, as researchers, teachers and librarians fear being fined and jailed.

    Please provide any comments. If this letter is factual, I’ll send it off.

  6. read the fine prints
    As Michael has warned read the fine prints:
    Bill C-61 -> Limitations on Statutory Damages

    The Limitations paragraph states:

    For infringements that are not for private purposes, the current range of statutory damages (between $500 and $20 000 for each work infringed) would remain available.

    For example: posting music using the Internet or peer-to-peer (P2P) technology.

    Since when you are downloading you are at the same time uploading (posting) you are in big trouble.

    This all “only $500” dollar fine is highly misleading.

  7. Darryl Moore says:


    You are absolutely correct regarding the Thomas case. My comment wasn\’t really aimed at this one except to correct the math of the first point of the first comment poster.

    The main offence this will cover, and it is a big one in terms of number of offenders, is keeping a video library of TV shows. Do you have a VHS collection of TV shows you\’ve recorded? Most people have at least a few. Well keeping those tapes will become illegal and subject to this statutory fine.

  8. Anonymous says:

    buying music-movies
    might be worth mentioning that this is the main reason i stoped buying cd’s long time ago…last thing i want is some virus inserted on my computer out of my stupidity…the music industry as well as the movie one are on “free fall” and nothing will stop that unless they are willingly to take the road in 21st century…the rimes when income was made out of nothing(qulitywise) and inflated prices are over, no matter how they try to scare people. this internet generations are less and less wanting to buy into consumerism( all ads target women and childreen for a well defined reason).

    this law is an attempt to stop freedom of speach first and foremost. it opens the door for taking away personal freedoms as everyone COULD/WOULD be sued. regulating internet on the same lines as they did prostitution and drug laws…take them out of legality so the undergound will be even more profitable to the guys at the top and could provide another venue of putting “away” people the system deems as a threat and especially the intelectual one…

  9. maupassant says:

    effects of C61
    The differential damages seem intended to make certain that whenever a $500 offence occurs, someone has committed a $20000 offence too. If sharing via bittorrent were a $500 offence this wouldn’t be true. i.e. It guarrantees an opportunity for a $20000 lawsuit every time any kind of sharing occurs.

  10. Chris Brand says:

    VHS libraries
    That is an interesting one. Of course your VHS library is probably illegal today but the difference is that the rightsholders would have to prove actual damages, and it’s hard to see that being more than the cost of buying each program on VHS.
    So the statutory damages here does seem like a small win for consumers – you only get sued for $500 rather than $10*number of tapes.

  11. Prentice lies about his Canadian DMCA on
    from Cory Doctorow: “CBC Radio’s Search Engine just posted/aired its interview with Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice about his Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They’ve been trying to get him on the air for months now and he finally consented to ten minutes, but he delivered nothing but spin and outright lies about his legislation and ended up hanging up on Jesse Brown, the interviewer.

    You have to listen to this — in it, the Minister lies, dodges, weaves and ducks around plain, simple questions like, “If the guy at my corner shop unlocks my phone, is he breaking the law?” and “If my grandfather breaks the DRM on his jazz CDs to put them on his iPod, does that break the law?” and the biggie, “All the ‘freedoms’ your law guarantees us can be overriden by DRM, right?” (Prentice’s answer to this last one, “The market will take care of it,” is absolutely priceless.)”

    more here – [ link ]

  12. Chris Brand,

    That’s $500 per incident (ie. per VHS), not total. $20,000 per incident (ie per song) if you’ve shared it with someone else.

    This is clearly stated in the bill (which, sadly, I have read). The media has mislead you.

  13. Facism
    You might want to say I’m doing a chicken little ©®.

    Some scumbag politico tables a bogus C-61 that is doomed to failure anyways, and I start yelling facism, facism, the sky is falling, right?

    Well, I have to ask you all one thing:

    Just how much can you trust a government that would gut our charter like this? (at least on practical, if not legal terms)

    Do you want your ISP to spy your internet, with 100% unrestricted ISP -> corporate reportage based on unverifyable claims of enfringement? Who and in what country was that company, and are they bound by our public protections? Will your monthly internet bill buy you better / faster service as it increases to cover the cost of this policing? China has better sense and human rights than what this leads to my friends.

    The bottom line is that any government that would do this IS NOT ACTING ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE ANY MORE.

    I know, since when have they been anyways? But this legislation is where push has finally come to shove. This is where Canada gets dissolved into the greater corporate feeding trough, for good. It is only one bill, on one topic, but it is a bad harbinger of facism to come. We better start pushing back hard.

  14. Steven Comeau / Collideascope Digital
    As a Gemini Award-winning television producer, musician and recipient of Canada\’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, I would like to comment on the copyright reform legislation currently in front of Parliament.

    I think we do Canadians discredit by characterizing them as thieves…

    more here – [ link ]

  15. Response to Steven Comeau
    I agree with Steven Comeau. Audio CD technology is almost 30 years old and yet we’re still on average paying $20/CD. Cost of living has gone up– look at gas prices– so the average person can’t go out and buy boatloads of CDs like they once did. They’ve also finally replaced all the albums they once had on cassette tape with the newer costlier CD versions. That’s 2 reasons why the CD market is crashing.

    Old technology gets cheaper– that’s a consumer/marketing law– unless manufacturing has subsided and yet there’s a demand– vinyl is still being manufactured but in limited quantities, DJs are still buying them so the price is a bit high. The music industry is trying to bribe us by selling $13 CDs here, and $15 CDs there– if they were completely serious they would sell all CDs for a flat rate way cheaper that $20 to reflect the age of the technology. Try selling a Betamax tape machine for $1000 and see if there are any takers, or a record player.

    99 cents for a song is absurd! In the end you’re still paying $15-20 for all the songs on an album and yet providing downloads is a lot cheaper for the music publisher. There is no actual physical media that they have to manufacture, package, have sitting in a warehouse, being shipped to stores. Even if you did pay for a download you’ll be paying for DRM which has to be renewed/updated every so many months to make sure you’re still a legal purchaser of the music– but wait– what if that online music store closes it’s doors/shuts down? You are screwed! The DRM update cannot take place and you’ve just bought music you can no longer listen to. The music publisher laughs to the bank because they know if you really want to listen to that song you’ll buy it again and the vicious DRM/music CD cycle continues.. and yet the The *kak* Honourable Jim Prentice and the *kak* Conservative government are allowing these corporations to rob the Canadian public by giving them the tools to do so.

  16. Consider …
    I can understand how you might think 99 cents for a song is outrageous when compared to the cost of CD. Intuitively speaking, you would be correct in your assertion. However, while the costs associated with the production of a CD are no longer present, keep in mind that there are new costs associated with digital downloads, such as the cost of maintaining the website (programmers), the cost of the hardware (servers), etc.

    Technology, nowadays, is built to be obsolete in the span of a few years. The market for CD’s was destined to be replaced, much in the same way that it has itself replaced the market for vinyl and tapes. We are seeing the market for CD’s declining while the market for digital downloads is growing at an astonishing rate, which is likely why CD’s have not gotten cheaper.