Poilievre’s C-61 Response

I've posted responses to C-61 letters from MPs representing the major parties (Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc) in the past, but several people forwarded the latest letter from Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre.  Poilievre, an Ottawa-area MP, is best known for being the primary responder in the House of Commons to the election funding issue as well as for having had to apologize for remarks tied to the native school apology.  Most of Poilievre's response simply repeats the usual Conservative lines on C-61, some of which are misleading (ie. he says "our reform will also permit consumers to copy music onto devices such as MP3 players, and copy books, newspapers, videos and photos into different formats. All of this is illegal under the current copyright legislation."  It is inaccurate to state that all of this is illegal today since fair dealing may cover some of this copying and the video copying must be VHS, not DVD). 

More problematic is the final paragraph that makes the case for C-61 to his constituents:
Bill C-61 creates a situation where it is now legal for you to transfer your music to a digital media or to record your favourite TV show for later viewing, which is considered copyright infringement under the current legislation. It is also illegal, under the current legislation, to pick a digital lock, with fines much higher than what is proposed. This bill maintains the illegality of circumventing a digital lock, should a manufacturer wish to put one in place, but limits the fines to a reasonable level for average Canadians.

This paragraph is both misleading and inaccurate.  Copyright law does not have fines – they are damages – and the damage awards for circumventing copy controls on a DVD and copying that DVD to your video iPod faces the prospect of $20,000 in damages.  The claims about new consumer rights should be tempered by the fine print – transferring music and recording television shows are subject to the presence of digital lock and the time shifting provisions come with 12 conditions before Canadians can record a television show.  Most importantly, to suggest that it is currently illegal under the current law to pick a digital lock is plainly wrong.  Obviously it is not currently illegal to circumvent a TPM (otherwise what is the point of this bill?).  Poilievre's letter tries to couch provisions that have attracted enormous public criticism as business as usual, yet that is plainly not the case.  His constituents deserve a follow-up letter that sets the record straight.

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