The First Week of the Fight Against Bill C-61

It has now been one week since Industry Minister Jim Prentice unveiled Bill C-61.  While the bill yielded the predictable voices of immediate support from lobby groups anxious to import the DMCA to Canada, it did not take long for the government's communication strategy to go off-the-rails (a none-too-impressive performance by Prentice at the press conference did not help).  By virtually any standard, it has not been a good week for a minister who is often described in glowing terms as future leadership material.  The media coverage has nearly universally criticized the legislation. A sampling of masthead editorials include:

Further, the online anger has surely exceeded the Minister's expectations:

The response from Industry Minister Jim Prentice?  Letters to the editor that repeat already-tired spin about the bill being a "made in Canada" solution or an appearance on the CBC's Search Engine where he dodges questions and hangs up on the interviewer.  Yet no one should rest on their laurels as powerful groups will fight to defend the Canadian DMCA.  Letters, meetings, local events, and raising awareness remains absolutely critical.  To that end, next week I'll be kicking off another series – 61 Flaws in Bill C-61.  Each weekday from June 23rd until September 15th (the day the House of Commons is currently scheduled to resume), I'll point to a reason why Canadians should reject the bill and demand better.


  1. Prentice won’t answer the question on digital locks for reasonable purposes on a CD. This is the whole crux of the matter. Why criminalize this? And media coverage has confused the issue? I think Prentice, and he admits the bill is highly technical, doesn’t understand his bill. That’s not surprising as he didn’t write it.

  2. Dear Mr. Prentice
    Appeal to Mr. Prentice and colleagues!

    Mr. Prentice, you are my age and I want to draw your attention to some facts that I\’m sure you have experienced, just like me. You have kids, maybe between 15 and 25, me too. I bought every damn Disney VHS tape available while they were growing up (dozens of others, but lets just talk about those – I\’m sure you did too!). I had a whole library of em, but the damn world went to CDs and to be honest I didn\’t have the time, energy or wherewithal to convert the tapes to digital files on the computer or to CDs. So … I bought all the damn things again on CDs when Disney made them available (Which they only do occasionally, not all titles are available at any given time, even some of the classics). Great stuff when nieces and nephews visit during holidays … keeps them busy while dinner is prepared and the adults catch up on stuff …. sound familiar?
    I\\\’m sure its the same in your house. But the kids are older now, and most of the cash you slide them is going to music or video CDs, maybe a bit for their phones, you and I want them in touch, safe, you know …. They have messaging, music, facebook, stuff I don\’t get but is way cool for them. I\’m sure its the same in the Prentice house.

    So: Me, you and our kids are going to be criminals soon, based on what I know about your proposed bill. I\’ll be damned if I have to buy another Disney feature for the 3rd time – so I\’ve made backup digital copies (archived my library, if you will) in a format which will let me view the damn things on the new plasma TV with its newfangled inputs. If that changes, then I\\\’ll re-format the files to make them viewable in future. Now, I\’ve paid many times for the right to see these movies, so have you, so don\’t criminalize us by outlawing the tools that give me fair use of the crap I bought.

    Ahhh, and the kids … yours like music like mine? I was a Beatles, Stones, KISS fan, as a kid (60\’s & 70\’s, like you). Paid for and cherished a couple hundred albums … on vinyl, then on 8-Track (had to have for cruising in the car), then on cassette (because the portable \”ghetto blaster/tape player\” was sweet at the beach, then I bought most of them again on CDs, for the convenience and the quality (nice to have good tunes piped to the pool deck for parties, getting older, eh) …. are you still with me Jim??? I\\\’m sure you\’ve covered the same ground! Now I have scads of tunes in files, mostly paid for 3-4 times, but some from here, there and wherever … like most of us, eh? But, the kids! Christ, they rack up some bills downloading tunes and movies! So be it. I spent a tonne, they are entitled, I guess. I try to make sure they pay whats fair. Now its their copy of a tune or movie, why shouldn\’t they watch or listen to it when and how they want? Its digital, copyable, transferable … not to or for others, but for their own use … progress from the old days of you and me, Jim. Do you want yours and mine to be criminals for that, too?

    Mr. Prentice, have a daughter? Two words … wedding photos …. get a contract, because your proposed legislation gives the photographer the rights to HIS pictures of YOUR family on the day of the big event! Not only the ones your sweet little miss wants in her album, but any and all the shots the rat bastard took on the day! And he can sell them online!! With fabulous copyright protections that will surely limit their widespread distribution of you and yours in potentially embarrassing, candid and private moments!

    Take a step back, talk to your kids and some non-industry folks, get a handle on what is fair … that is all, just fair. Nail the pirates and PROFITEERS! But me, you and our kids … lets not make us criminals for no good reason.

    Even-handed is good … Under-handed is bad. You don\’t want Canadians complaining to your ISP that maybe you and/or yours used your Blackberry for alleged nefarious purposes, do you? It might come to that if you keep biting the hands that feed you. Isn\’t technology wonderful? It seems that people know where you (cyber)-live.

    Here is another thought for you to consider … \”copy/paste\”, ubiquitous on computers and most digital devices. Unfortunately, I think an argument can be made that this long-standing function can be considered as a \”circumvention tool\” based on your proposed legislation … and what a can of worms that would be, eh? Millions of machines and individuals use copy/paste! The whole world, actually! Do you want to go against the flow of that standard use to appease the US corporate interests? Imagine a copy/paste function that inherently skirts DRM functionality, I mean really, who wants to copy anything other than the content of the artist, movie or music or literature or whatever …. why copy that bit of content NOT produced by the artist? I can advise you that a number of people are working just such a scheme related to copy/paste functionality – I think it will be here before your Bill comes up for debate, actually!

    Change the Bill … I\’m sure people will respect you for it rather than diss you for making changes. I don\’t want your kids or mine to be criminals.

    Kindest Regards,
    Gary B.

  3. Thanks for the great work keeping track of anti C-61 editorials and articles. Any chance of collecting together some of the pro C-61 articles and discussing or dismissing some of their claims?

    Thanks again.

  4. The Cynical View
    It is assumed that the conservatives are bowing to US pressure in introducing this legislation, but they may also try to use the public backlash as a means to justify saying no to the Americans. If we put up enough of a fight over the summer, Minister Prentice might scrap the legislation and table a reasonable bill. When the American lobby groups ask for an explanation, the government can say that Canadians don\’t want it and we (the Conservatives) would have probably lost seats if an election was triggered by a defeat.
    Bottom Line: Watch for this being a confidence vote in the house. If it isn\’t, then the government was bluffing.

  5. Political Tool
    I posted a question a few days earlier asking if the new bill could be used to stifle dissent or whistleblowing. Today I read about just such a situation in the US. Last week, Radio America talk show host talk Michael Reagan called for his listeners to track down and murder anti-war activist, Mark Dice. After Dice downloaded the show’s free podcast and posted the 3 minute and 21 second clip on YouTube, Reagan filed a copyright infringement claim to remove the clip in an attempt to prevent it from circulating.

  6. Comical
    It is comical. I mean seriously Canada has been listed in the UserFriendly Comic Strip! Twice!

    [ link ]


    [ link ]

    That is a couple of million people laughing at Mr Prentice allowing corporations to dictate the laws of the land!

    To our politicians I can only say if you vote for this you are bought and paid for and toast in the next election!

  7. I would like to bring another point of view to this debate. And its not good.

    It came to me after reading the Vancouver piece and how it mentions professors and teachers. This thing has been nagging at me in the back of my mind for awhile now.

    What do we have produced in great numbers in United States? Simple, great many under-educated gossip loving people, etc . . . Bill 61-C could have severe impact on education in Canada as well. It would limit exposure of materials for education purposes in such severe way that would have very negative result on level of education. Screw that not could it will have such impact if enacted into a law.

    There is a lot more at stake here then just copyright.

  8. It doesn’t surprise me that Prentice would hang up on an interviewer, he has been hanging up on conversations with the Canadian people for months.

    When did he ever have an open conversation with us?

    Now he continues to push American propaganda onto us, and thinks we can’t see past the “Made in Canada” tag. Me, I read it as “Made against Canada”, but really it’s only a few letters difference.

  9. Kevin (another one) says:

    circumvention devices
    As I was reading one of the comments above (about cutting and pasting text), wondered, would a printer and scanner be considered a circumvention device? Take a DRM’ed document file. Print it (isn’t one printing legal?). Scan and OCR the printed file. You now have a document with the DRM removed.

  10. Not fading away
    Michael Said:

    “next week I’ll be kicking off another series – 61 Flaws in Bill C-61. Each weekday from June 23rd until September 15th (the day the House of Commons is currently scheduled to resume),”

    hahaha YOU ROCK!

  11. Not voting for Prentice
    I’ve voted for the Conservatives in the last 3 federal elections. But, I won’t vote for a Conservative party headed by the man who sold our rights to mega-corps and the American government to bolster an obsolete business plan.

  12. Name Witheld says:

    Letter to editor sample
    This is the letter I wrote in reply to the editorial in the St. Catharines Standard. I was hoping some one could check it for accuracy.

    Thank you for bringing the copyright bill to the attention of a wider audience.

    Some things are missed in your editorial, though. From what I’ve read, the penalty for downloading copyrighted songs is not $500 in total, but $500 per copyright holder per song. Most songs have 3 copyright holders, the musician, songwriter and the producer, I believe. Multiply $1500 by how many songs you (or your child) download and you get to see the picture. The penalty is not referred to as fines, but damages. That would lead one to believe that to be penalized, one would have to be sued by the copyright holder, such as is happening in the United States. Further to this point, 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.

    What has caused the most concern 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, quite a number people also transfer their DVD collection to a home theatre computer 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 also makes it illegal to produce, provide or import any tools to allow circumvention of the digital locks. Therefore, anybody circumventing said digital locks can be fined $20,000 and face jail. Under this bill, anybody performing these increasingly everyday actions are criminals, and subject to lawsuits, fines and jail.

    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.

    More information is available at [ link ] . I also recommend anyone concerned with this bill to visit [ link ] where template letters can be found and emailed to your Member of Parliament and other members of government.

  13. What about granny?
    Lets not forget grandparants who may not be up to speed on this draconian ammendment.

    Grandkids come over to vist grandma and use her computer to DL a tune using limewaire. Grandma on fixed income is liable (does it remind you of the States yet?).

    Grandkids rip their favorite Hanna Montana tune & share it with their friends? Oh-la-la big time money grandma will lose on her fixed income. There goes Grandma\’s house, no Xmas there this year!

    They may as well just label every Canadian guilty now and get it over with.

  14. Re: Cynical View and Comical
    Re: Cynical View

    Occam’s razor is a theory from the 14th century that paraphrased, basically says “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” So we have two thoughts 1.) Prentice is a moron, bought / intimidated by US media interests or 2.) The conservatives are fighting the US in an incredibly sneaky method by introducing a bit of legislation that they know will PO the public so much that it couldn’t possibly be passed into law. All things being equal, #1 is way more likely 🙂

    Re: Comical

    Userfriendly is written in BC, specifically Richmond 🙂

  15. Prentice FAILS
    How much cocaine and hookers did the americans give Prentice to make him think this bill is a good idea?

  16. max brenner says:

    I have been searching everywhere for an answer to a simple question . When does the Government vote on this law?

    or to put it in REALspeak ..

    When does my fascist Government impose this instrument of their police state which they certainly will pass and use against Canadians?

    When please?
    That’s all anybody needs to know is when to run to the survival shelter and bolt the door.

    When please?

    I want to be prepared for Canadian Internet Doomsday.

    Thank You.

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