Broad Canadian Consumer Coalition Speaks Out on Copyright

A broad coalition of Canadian consumer groups, including Union des consommateurs, Option consommateurs, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), the Consumers Council of Canada, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), and the grassroots digital activism organization, Online Rights Canada, have released a public letter expressing concern about the government's plans for copyright reform.  The letter confirms what has been widely feared – the recording industry may have received assurances of a bill, yet Industry Minister Jim Prentice has still not consulted with Canadian consumer groups.  Had he taken the time to talk to them, he would have been warned that "consumers will never accept an unbalanced law modeled on the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which puts industry first." 

Update: Some members of the coalition have also released a copyright white paper.  The CBC has coverage of this development. 


  1. Anonymous says:

    See, this is typical of why government really doesn\’t much care about what\’s posted here. The proposed law does not put \”industry first\”. It puts first the people who invest in and own the content. There\’s a lot of talk about \”balance\” and \”consensus\” on this blog but like the phrase \”flexible fair dealing\” what it means is just the opposite. Show some willingness to compromise and maybe, just maybe, you\’ll get a sympathetic hearing. All you\’re doing now is pissing off a government that doesn\’t see many votes in your constituency anyway.

  2. Why Don’t Trolls ever Sign Name
    Nice comment Troll! You guys who don’t understand the issues are so lazy when you put up your negative and ignorant comments that you can’t even be bothered to make up a name to go along with the garbage you spew! Why don’t you go and Troll around some other Blogs while we work at creating awareness to keep protecting your rights to continue posting your garbage wherever you want around the internet!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can make up a name if you want, but like most of the names here, it won’t mean anything.

    And you kind of prove my point about tone and understanding. Nothing in any legislation will have any impact whatever on my right to post my garbage.

  4. hello troll
    Hello troll, Big Brother called, he wants your hourly report on what site you’ve been visiting, what you’ve read, what words you said, what things you thought. Also he reminds you to not forget that you have to pray to him for half an hour today.

  5. It’s interesting, the trolls first comment has its marks all escaped, like it’s been canned and ready for action at the drop of a dime, ready to be placed into whatever format it’s needed, unlike your retort to the following comment. Copy-paste trolling, at least put some effort into it.
    And thanks Michael for sharing this with us, I hope Mr. Prentice and his so-far-secretive legislation really do take into consideration the wishes and demands of the public and consumer groups, but I fear that won’t be the case, or his ministry would have been happy and open about the whole process. Hiding the bill away until the last moment doesn’t leave much time for public reaction before the legislature has to break for the summer.

  6. Wrong conclusion, Grant. Reason for “marks all escaped” is that I got the text from image wrong, and that’s what happens when you try again. The point is…I can’t recall anyone here saying that unauthorized file sharing is wrong. Of course consumers prefer no copyright limits, but that’s not how this is going to play out. And of course the big retailers want less copyright – it will help them sell more ipods. But the libertarians aside, these things don’t always come down to a show of hands. Governments somethimes need to do the right thing. That’s why we don’t execute people here and why we allow abortions. I’m really not trying to draw a parallel here with copyright but the government also has to look out for people who create what you all want to infringe. And they have consulted. Maybe not with Professor Geist – they do know where he stands on this – but with plenty of others on BOTH sides of this debate.

  7. Interestingly enough, I had a chance to talk to reps from his team when they were canvasing Toronto. And it is good to see they got the message to him, and it is shaping up to be an issue that will be focus of debates and it looks like it is going to play part in future elections.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “I can’t recall anyone here saying that unauthorized file sharing is wrong. Of course consumers prefer no copyright limits”

    Its been said many times on these forums, but generally speaking, we are not fighting for unauthorized file sharing when ‘unauthorized’ means the party that created said media doesn’t get compensation. The big problem people are having are the DMCA style provisions. Time and device shifting are not (and should not be) illegal. If I purchase the right to play/view/use media on my computer, I want to be able to play it in my car, my stereo, TV, whatever without being charged over and over again. Thats what we call ‘fair use’. Fair use isn’t passing it on to my cousin, or dl’ing it from a website if I haven’t already purchased it (though it would be if I had). Fair use is just not being ‘nickled and dimed’ to death, or having to put up with draconian DRM techniques that restrict my use of media that I purchased.

    Though I suspect you already know this and aren’t interested in furthering debate on the subject, but are merely (as has been previously pointed out) trolling.

  9. “Troll”: The point is not that we want to share files illegally. Whether we share “unauthorized files” or not makes no difference in this debate because of the one obvious part of that statement: Its called illegal file sharing because its ALREADY illegal. The majority people that really want to do it illegally will continue to do so if the new law is passed. All this law is effectively doing is making the law abiding citizens pay a heavy price in quality of goods sold. The people that are willing to buy songs/shows/movies all of a sudden will have to chose between doing it legally and being stuck with an assortment of things that they can’t legally remove (DRM, etc.) or getting the same thing, less all the bullshit they don’t want, illegally.

  10. maupassant says:

    troll comments
    I figure the troll is in Jim Prentice’s office. He raises the dismissive, straw-man argument “you guys just want free stuff” I’d hoped the discussion had progressed beyond the ogre/thief name-calling stage.

    A US-style DMCA allows any content provider to effectively re-write the copyright law to suit themselves. Also if the threat climate becomes too great, or the law is written carelessly (or perhaps very cunningly) it could become vitrually illegal to distribute content without charge, as might befit a new business model, or to distribute software without a built-in copyright cop. Those of us who took even a tiny part in creating the network software never thought this would be a great way to *restrict* the flow of information.

  11. Not about free stuff!
    Our campaigning is not about free stuff. It’s not about ripping off other people’s work. It’s about control – the right to control and own what we buy. The right to watch movies on a computer of our choosing, or on an iPod or put music we have bought onto an iPod. It’s the right to use 3rd party ink in our printers.

    When you read about copyright, it’s really all about “controlright” – that’s what the DMCA and DRM is all about. Anyone who dismisses this fight that it’s about a bunch of freeloaders is just so wrong, and pure troll.

  12. Kickdaball says:

    Troll 101, let’s parse & analyze
    >Wrong conclusion, Grant. Reason for “marks all escaped” is that I got the text from image wrong, and that’s what happens when you try again.”

    Troll protests too much.

    >The point is…I can’t recall anyone here saying that unauthorized file sharing is wrong.”

    Troll tries to reframe argument as something completely different. (Discussion is about copyright policy being developed by non-transparent government process, in secret and in collusion with one side of issue only, not the old “unauthorized file sharing” canard that troll tries to draw into discussion as distraction.)

    >Of course consumers prefer no copyright limits, but that’s not how this is going to play out.

    Troll grapples weakly with straw man distraction ploy and makes unsupportable generalization.

    >And of course the big retailers want less copyright – it will help them sell more ipods.

    Troll pretends to “see other side”.

    >But the libertarians aside, these things don’t always come down to a show of hands.

    Troll attempts to categorize those on other side as all belonging to a particular political ideology, then goes on to betray own ignorance of democratic process.

    >Governments somethimes need to do the right thing.

    Troll tries to claim moral high ground, fumbles with pompous idiotic “high horse” and inadvertently supports counter-argument. (Yes, governments should do the right thing and they’re not – that’s what we are unhappy about).

    >That’s why we don’t execute people here and why we allow abortions.

    Troll creates distraction by drawing in completely unrelated issue.

    >I’m really not trying to draw a parallel here with copyright

    Of course, that is exactly what the troll is trying to do.

    >here but the government also has to look out for people who create

    Utterly false statement. (Sorry, troll, this one just makes me laugh. If the government gave a damn about “people who create”, they’d arrest all the industry execs and managers that screw them out of most of their earnings. The government only looks out for those rich and powerful (mostly corporate) entities that spend vast sums of money to lobby them and help them get elected. Oh, and in the case of the current government, anything the US tells them to.)

    >what you all want to infringe

    Troll (still sticking to the distraction rather than the actual topic) to tries to frame people on other side of real issue as immoral

    >And they have consulted.”

    (Gibberish, but) looks like troll intended to suggest that the public was consulted, but provides no proof.

    >Maybe not with Professor Geist – they do know where he stands on this – but with plenty of others on BOTH sides of this debate.”

    Troll babbles incoherently, grapples at “straw man” argument ploy and fumbles the ball.

    All in all, it’s one of the lamest trolls that I’ve ever seen.

  13. But that’s the thing – you don’t own/control it on buying. In fact the whole basis of copyright is that tho you own the physical product, you don’t have unlimited rights over what you do with the content. Never have and never will. I think time and format shifting aren’t a problem, though. Maybe they will be OKd in the new legislation

  14. treehugger says:

    >In fact the whole basis of copyright is that tho you own the physical product, you don’t have unlimited rights over what you do with the content.

    I agree with you, but in regards to something that I buy, I should be able to use it / watch it on whatever form of medium that I choose. It is not up to those selling the content to tell me where and when I can watch it.

  15. Avoiding Nasty Side-effects
    We also want to not have legislation that has really bad side-effects. The DMCA had a couple of really unfortunate side-effects.

    The first was that notice-and-takedown gave ISPs a vested interest in shutting you down first and telling you later. This led to abuse as anyone who wanted to suppress your content online – that’s YOUR content, not someone else’s – could simply tell your provider that you were violating copyright. Your website would vanish, and the only way to get it back was to engage in a legal contest.

    The second was the use of silly interpretations of copyright – such as arguing that making a garage door opener or a printer cartridge that was compatible with an existing one was a copyright violation, and the manufacturer was committing a DMCA violation.

    Finally, the basic premise of the DMCA had a hidden gotcha. Even in cases where you were permitted to copy a work, whether for fair use or any other reason, your protected activity was still illegal if you circumvented a protection mechanism. This meant that distributors could prevent you from exercising your fair use by forcing you to expose yourself to a different legal liability.

    If Prentice wants to have balance, he can start by admitting that such abuses took place, and that any Canadian legislation won’t create new legal liabilities for Canadians who aren’t doing anything illegal. And – alternatively or in addition – those who abuse the legislation (false claims, for example) should be subject to legal liability themselves, and not just be able to walk away with with an “oops, sorry”.

    He could also indicate that common and useful activities such as recording a television program for later viewing will not remain in a grey area outside the law, but will be recognized as non-infringing.

    Of course, this would also require him to agree that the time for consultation is BEFORE legislation is introduced, with the goal of creating legislation.

  16. Anonymous says:

    existing laws don\t make sense
    Troll said \”The point is…I can\’t recall anyone here saying that unauthorized file sharing is wrong.\”

    How can anyone even figure what is wrong and what isn\’t?
    Is it OK for me to lend a CD to a friend? (Y)
    Is it OK for me to make a personal digital copy of my own CD for my back up? (Y)
    So if I want to lend my friend my CD and he lives far away, is it OK for me to send him my digital copy instead of driving there? (N)
    Does these laws make any sense? (N)

  17. Anonymous says:

    By \\\’troll\\\’

    \\\”But that\\\’s the thing – you don\\\’t own/control it on buying. In fact the whole basis of copyright is that tho you own the physical product, you don\\\’t have unlimited rights over what you do with the content. Never have and never will. I think time and format shifting aren\\\’t a problem, though. Maybe they will be OKd in the new legislation\\\”

    Why is this concept applied to imaginary stuff? Namely things we cannot touch, sure you can hold the CD with software but can you reach out and touch the code? Its not like a car. Wait a minute. So what happens to people who mod their cars with new copyright laws? Oh noes you modded that ford you are going to pay the fine for ruining such supreme form.

    Total and utter BS. I was always against CDS with sticker \\\”by breaking this seal you agree to terms of service.\\\” Of course terms of service are not on paper but in a file on the CD and in order to read it you have to agree to the terms. And this doesn\\\’t strike you as illegal? It would be same if I told you in order to own this brand new Ferrari you have to agree to terms of service by breaking the seal on this box that contains your car keys. Only to find out you bought horse drawn carriage instead. Which is usually the case with software.

  18. Jason Walton says:

    The myth of “licensing” content
    > “If I purchase the right to play/view/use media on my computer…”

    This is exactly what the big content industry wants you to believe you’re doing, but when was the last time you bought a CD that came with an end user license agreement? You are not buying the right to view the media, you are buying the media.

    Copyright law puts various restrictions on what you are allowed to do with the media you have purchased, but you own the media. No existing copyright law prevents you from reselling that media (in fact it is expressly allowed by copyright law under the “first sale doctrine”), from listening to that media on the player of your choice, or from format shifting (depending on who you listen to).

    The problem with the U.S. DMCA, of course, is that it takes away all of those rights and others, because the DMCA makes it illegal to bypass DRM, and DRM makes it so the content producer can add any restrictions they wish to the media. The DMCA makes it so content producers are allowed to make up their own copyright law on the fly.

    The DMCA, in particular, is also quite nasty as it essentially forbids the breaking of electronic locks, which has a chilling effect on security research. It’s a law designed to “protect” IP, but only if the people who want to steal the IP are willing to play by the rules, which they obviously are not, since they are trying to steal the IP in the first place.

    As a consumer and a Canadian citizen, I will not stand for a Canadian version of the DMCA.

  19. Control
    But Troll, I do own and control what I buy. I don’t want that ownership or control to end. I buy a CD only upon the condition that I can play it, put it on my media server, put it on my iPod and make a backup against scratch or loss. They are my conditions of purchase. I believe that those things I insist upon are essential for me to be able to use the product to it’s full and are completely fair and legal. The criminalization of DRM removal takes away from me the means for me to control and properly use what I buy. DRM can also, (when the servers go dark) stop me even being able to use in any way what I have bought, and hence is taking away what I own.

    Without the ability to control, in a legitimate, reasonable manner, what I buy, I don’t see the point of buying. What DRM, and the criminalization of DRM does is turn legitimate, product buying customers into criminals just so they can actually use what they buy.

    All digital goods must be copied to be used. These are “incidental” copies and are not deemed to be infringing. Digital good can’t work without them, so they must be allowed or else you’ve just bought yourself a fine when you buy a movie to watch. What we are saying is that other incidental copies, like backups, media shifting, format shifting, interoperability etc. should be considered natural rights of the purchaser and protected, not eroded by DRM.

    It’s funny you mention time shifting. It’s rumoured that Prentice will put that in as a carrot. However, timeshifting is about 20 years out of date. What we need is the rights to backup, interoperability, media shifting, format shifting without being stopped by DRM and without DRM being criminalized for such purposes.

  20. The silly thing about “copyright owners” when they talk about need for stronger copyright protection is that they always think in the frame of existing copyright law. But who said that new law can\’t give more freedom to commons? Apparently existing law is imperfect one, otherwise we wouldn’t have this discussion.

  21. Chris Brand says:

    The fundamental disagreement
    In the comments above, we see the fundamental difference between the two sides of the debate here (well, ok, there are more than two sides here, but it’s useful to illuminate this point).

    One side sees the content as the key. They paid to have it created, they hold the copyrights, and they want to license it to you for certain enumerated uses. They see the fact that they sell you a plastic disk as a container for it as an irrelevant detail.

    The other side sees that plastic disk as their property. They bought it outright, and thus expect to be able to exercise all their standard property rights that they have over things they own. They recognise that in the case of a copy of content, some of those rights are taken away from them by the Copyright Act, but nevertheless still regard that plastic disk as fundamentally their property.

    Similar argument applies to the devices used to enjoy content, except that in this case there are many fewer restrictions imposed by the Copyright Act.

    So the one side sees “stronger” copyright law (more rights granted to rightsholders) as protecting their content while the other side sees it as weakening their property rights. And both are right.

    Interestingly, it’s far more common (in my experience) to hear the consumer side recognise that rightsholders have rights to the content than it is to hear rightsholders recognise that their customers are actually purchasing a copy of the content, and have the right to do anything they like with it that isn’t enumerated in the Copyright Act.

    Personally, I want to be able to continue to legally watch DVDs sent to me from Europe while living in Canada, bypassing the region encoding to do so. The US DMCA took that right away from property owners.

    I also really wish people would stop telling me that I download content illegally (I only download with permission from the rightsholders) or that I just want stuff for free (I don’t).

    Oddly the 1st time i have ever seen anyone called a troll at this site which means those that blog elsewhere, are visiting. Pretending to get a leg up and slant the conversation.
    It is about free stuff, but not in the way we all think.
    It is about freeing the ideas and that which is stiffling innovation, and my ability to vcr tape a show off tv, how is that differant then downloading it??
    Commercials in /out….is that it?


  23. Christopher says:

    Copyright has gotten unbalanced
    Copyright today has gone too much towards the people who own the copyright to the things in question, and has been extended for MUCH too long, in all honesty. Life plus 70 years for something? No, that should be and actually, by the strict interpretation of the Constitution and the words of the Founding Fathers, is illegal already.

    The content owners have to realize that most of the people downloading things ‘illegally’ are only doing so because they cannot afford the actual, real thing. If the content owners would LOWER THEIR PRICES (I know, it’s a NASTY thought…. NOT!) the people who were getting the things illegally before would be willing and able to get the real, genuine article because the balance between cost and negatives would be on the side of the content owners.

  24. To the troll
    So lacking in vision. Its not that we “just want free stuff” we want the future the internet has promised. We don’t want trolls like you trying to smash the digital world into a smaller less functional shape that will fit into your legislated business models.
    Most of us don’t mind paying, I have paid plenty over the years, we just don’t want to pay the way people like you want to force us to through draconian laws and court battles.
    The future is going to run you over – keep up this law making campaign and your going to end up with fully encrypted, decentralized, anonymous file sharing and then what will you do?

  25. Anonymous says:

    copyright laws make sense
    if we are going to have copyright laws then lets start by chasing musician first. who make a living playing cover songs from other bands, i’m sure not all get permission to do so. after them lets go after teachers because of the lack of funding for in class material have to copy resources from books. next let’s get the churches for using copyright material in there masses. lets not forget djs cause i’m sure that all their songs come from legal source..if i missed any groups i apologize….so to me every single canadian should be charged…including the immediate family members of that “elite group” of enacters of this law be exempt from this law?

  26. Anonymous says:

    The funny thing “funny” is that we pay for those commercials no matter if we watch them or not. The price of any good comprises the cost of promotion that is since we pay for promotion we own those shows we download. Beside that who is that idiot that stay in front of TV watching commercials?

  27. What I want from the new regs
    is a fair balance between my rights as a consumer of the goods, and the rights holders. To me, that means:

    1) the right to format shift, make backup copies, and transfer for personal use, especially for downloaded materials. One example of the latter was when people were forced to re-purchase legally purchased and downloaded, but DRM protected, songs when they upgraded from Windows XP to Vista because the DRM thought it was a pirated copy.
    2) the right to defeat TPMs that attempt to prevent me from exercising item 1).
    3) the right to NOT be assumed to be violating copyright, rather the onus is on the accuser to prove that I am.
    4) that ANY DRM protected item has a prominent warning (not buried in the fine print that you need a microscope to read) that the product is DRM protected, on the outside packaging, so that I can make an educated decision about purchasing it.

  28. DOWNLOADER says:

    NOT it isnt illegal to download
    now scroll up and look at all the so called troll comments

    then ask Mr. Prentice why his people are here too.

  29. POOR MAN says:

    NON commercial USE should be legal
    has no harm to economy and allows POOR SUCKERS
    to get and enjoy life

  30. Compact Discs: thankfully, all CDs are made without DRM these days. Be warned, however, there are still plenty of DRM Cds from EMI Music Canada and SONY BMG Music Canada (with the dreaded rootkit) STILL ON SOME STORE SHELVES!

    DVDs: pretty much all DVDs have DRM, though bypassing this is trivial at this point.

    BluRay high-def DVDs: yes, lots of DRM and endless profile firmware upgrades on players. Avoid for now!!!

    Video games: yes, DRM on much if not ALL releases.

    eBooks: some have DRM, others not. I do not like being locked into proprietary “readers”. Just put the damn thing out in an unprotected “Notepad” format or something…

  31. DRM crime
    Wow. This is the most commented post I\’ve seen here. It\’s good to have a devil\’s advocate to debate with as shown by the results.

    Anyway. DRM. No one likes it, that\’s clear. Well, at least in U.S. terms (no offense intended). Doesn\’t Canada already have enough laws in place? Also, we pay extra levies on everything entertainment, which is supposed to go to the license holders–right? One thing\’s for sure, the DMCA\’s sole interest is that of big industry – and – if these corporations are so hard done by, why do they still exist?

    The way I see it is this bill will impede progress. Reverse engineering, you have to buy to rights in order to have rights for the right to publish. In otherwords, much like the \’clubs\’ such as the TCG (Trusted Computing Group), you\’ll have to buy your way in, of which are way and above the costs for independent IP\’s.

    Tell someone you can\’t do something and… Look at prohibition, the mob scene, blood on the streets, a boom for \’illegal\’ activities. Different times to be sure. However, crime comes in many forms. Copyright software for example; Sony\’s rootkit or the Russian Star-Force, where they\’ve set up offices that we have no jurisdiction to prosecute, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood DMCA.