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.


  1. I got one…
    I got one from Polievre. I immediately emailed back to ask him if he’d actually read the bill, and pointed out his errors as you have above. I’m sorry to say, but I reckon Polievre is not too bright when it comes to copyrights. I think he needs to improve his work ethic.

  2. Poilievere’s Response
    I had the fortune to receive one of the form letters that was sent. I found it quite distasteful, with several misleading statements. Some mentioned above.

    But I also liked the following excerpt from the letter:

    “We believe this copyright reform promotes innovation and competition in a digital, knowledge-based economy. Our role as Government is to set the stage for business to succeed and the economy to flourish. In short, to create the right environment for Canada to prosper by setting the right policies and this copyright bill accomplishes this.”

    And here I was thinking that the government that should also be looking after my interests as a consumer, as well as the interests of business.

  3. No surprise with Poilievre. The man doesn’t have a single opinion of his own. He trots the party line like a good solder. Well, I guess he would’ve trying to move from backbench.

    Just hate the guy…

  4. Convince the “Conservatives” that this
    These “conservative” politicians need to be shown that creating laws to prop up obsolete business models is more communism than capitalism and that this is the sort of law we’d expect from the Liberals.

  5. re: @phoomp

    You’re assuming that politicians have the ability to think critically and objectively 🙂
    What we really need to do is to convince people who vote Conservative that this party is not what they think conservatism is about.

    Damn that Steven Harper. I would never vote conservative, but I have to admit that he is a very very good politician and the best prime minister material of all our current party leaders. He alone probably gives at least half the points to conservatives.

  6. Every month or so, I get a propaganda leaflet from Poilievre which includes some inane push-poll question we’re invited to complete (he might as well pre-check the correct answer, for the amount of leading he does) and mail back. He’s not someone I’d have much faith in with respect to holding honest and open discussion on the issues. He also won our riding with something like 60%+ of the vote, so he’s probably not worried about his re-election chances by trying to slough this issue off.

  7. With large part of population living in rural area – traditionally conservative playground – he doesn’t have to worry. I don’t want to offend anybody, but I don’t suppose farmers are on the leading edge of entertainment technology. And seeing these people during candidate meeting during last election I don’t have much hope for our riding.

  8. Yeah, there’s a lot of rural, but in terms of population, there’s Barhaven and Nepean and I’m sure they all have iPods and buy DVDs.

    There is no harm what-so-ever making Poly squirm on this issue, to fight him on this issue.

  9. Marked-based solutions
    I’m confused by this whole thing. The Conservatives’ answer to most any problem is “let the market” decide. Be it consumer complaints about cell phone providers, media concentration, net neutrality. The answer is always the same. So why have they turned to “burdensome” government regulation to resolve the perceived copyright problems? Why not just let the market decide?

    I ask this tongue in cheek, because I know that “market based solutions” is just an answer of convenience when it suits their friends. On this occasion, it clearly doesn’t suit them. I would love to see the media challenge them on this.

  10. Maynard G. Krebs says:

    The problem is that many times when a letter such as is sent by an MP, the local press will also get a copy and they will often write a story carrying the initial \’spin\’ the Party wants to get out to constituents.

    Rarely will the local newspaper print a second story (with headlines) of any MP\’s retraction or \’clarification\’ of the Party\’s position. Thus the initial spin is in front of the public and not the truth.

    Ok you say – so we can write letters to the editor about it.
    1) The editor has to decide to accept your letter.
    2) The editor reserves the right to edit your letter.
    3) Your letter, if published, will not have the same size headline that the MP/Party position will get.
    4) Your letter will be seldom read.
    5) Chances are that the local newspaper or tv/radio station is owned by a media conglomerate that happens to agree with C-61 as it is currently written.

  11. We all have neighbours. We can educate them direct.

  12. Russell McOrmond says:

    Power of different media

    One of the things we need to remember is that for many young people they are more likely to read things if they are online than if they are in print. Don’t under-estimate the power of blogging your thoughts, and telling other sites that you have done so so we can all link to you. I published a copy of Pierre Poilievre’s letter at [ link ]

    I think if we can get people excited enough about this such that it is clear that it will get voters out that might not otherwise bother, the politicians will pay attention.

  13. Their response, in fact, hits the nail squarely on the head with the biggest problem with this bill:

    “This bill maintains the illegality of circumventing a digital lock, should a manufacturer wish to put one in place”

    Anyone with half a clue should realize that every single media publisher out there would put digital locks on their works if this bill became law… effectively prohibiting end users from any personal copying or media-shifting of any works ever made in the future EXCEPT on the exact terms that the publishers of that media provide. Oh sure, they’ll allow you to copy that new song to your iPod, but only if you buy _their_ technology that uses digital rights management to first ensure that you are an authorized purchaser of the media that had the song on it (what happens if the software makes a mistake and thinks you aren’t the purchaser?), and of course if you don’t have an iPod, but instead have some other mp3 or portable music player, you are completely hosed. This is vendor lock-in at its finest, and I find the notion that our government is evidently intentional on giving media publishers a free pass to pull this kind of crap on legitimate consumers so utterly distasteful that I find myself lacking any words to more fully describe it.

  14. no way to slice it
    ^ @ Mark “…so utterly distasteful that I find myself lacking any words to more fully describe it.”

    REVOLT. C-61 is such a serious abrogation of our rights, that I can see little other course of action. If it passes, there will be countless lives put through the hell of supreme court battles, just to fight off obvious and predictable injustices. Those victims will need our support, in vehement action as well as words. C-61 must be clearly and steadfastly rejected by solid defiance, by such a large number of stakeholders, that the Government is forced to acknowlege its mistake. If c-61 passes into law in something close to its current form, this will be our only way to force a re-evaluation that includes our public rights.

    I sincerely hope that we can have C-61 die on the table, and stand only as an example of everything that can go wrong with the process.

    61 reforms are not enough.

  15. Reforms are not enough. What we need are rights, enshrined in law:

    Right to backup, time shift, media shift purchased media. Right to play on whatever device we choose to use. Right to skip adverts, daft copyright notices. Rights to remove DRM. Rights to own the actual media and information on it for our own legitimate purposes.

    I don’t see a problem with cracking down on illegal copying. However, those who own copyrights, myself included need to play fair. The right for all ideas and media to enter the public domain. The right for media to be preserved.

    There are problems where old TV shows are being blocked from being released. I do think copyright should lapse when commercialization is blocked in this way. A classic example is the BBC’s 1954 adaptation of 1984, probably one of the very best adaptations which is blocked from release by Orwell’s ancestors.

  16. Yahoo! DRM down
    “Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good—and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008.” – ars technica, by Nate Anderson – July 24, 2008.

    Under C-61 all your music – that you PAID for – will go bye-bye because it would be illegal to pick the DRM locks after Yahoo! finishes screwing you.

  17. Well, if he’s misrepresenting a bill that’s under review, as well as misrepresenting the current laws…SUE HIM!

  18. orwell\s /ancestors/?
    \”the BBC\’s 1954 adaptation of 1984, probably one of the very best adaptations which is blocked from release by Orwell\’s ancestors\” — from the Pearly Gates, presumably

  19. left-wing == pro-business?
    “prop up obsolete business models is more communism than capitalism and that this is the sort of law we’d expect from the Liberals”

    So protecting rich private business interest is a standard part of the left-of-centre ethos is it?

  20. Nathan S. says:

    Perhaps the most realistic thing to do i
    is to simply stop buying media products, if this bill does indeed pass, then the best thing to do to get the attention of the media conglomerates is to simply stop buying their stuff. And when these businesses start asking why their incomes are suffering, simply say “you support c-61, we do not, therefore we cannot do business with you anymore.” if that does not get their attention then I don’t know what will.

  21. Yup, meant descendants. Quite a funny slip up on my part, and humorous response 🙂

  22. re: realistic thing to do
    It would be much harder to convince general public not to buy entertainment, especially if there is no immediate problem from using it. Remember Sony root kit, even though it had real issue that could affect buyer’s computer it didn’t stop people from buying Sony CDs.

    And as for the media to get the message… They will blame P2P more and will ask for new enforcement, new law, or slip some international agreement behind the closed doors.

  23. Jonathan Abrams says:

    Never again
    I voted for him in the last election (I was really angry with the Liberals), but after receiving this disgrace of a form letter, and his strict towing of the party line, I’d be willing to vote Liberal just to get him out. I had mistakenly thought that since he’s the yougnest member of parliament, he’d have the interest of young Canadians in mind. Let’s face it, this bill would make 90%+ of young Canadians criminals/liable.

  24. It is interesting to see so many responses from people in Poilievre’s riding, where I also live. Also interesting to see at least one reason why somebody would have ever voted for him (twice), since I’ve always had a really hard time understanding that. This is a young man that has been ensconced in politics from a very young age, and has never held an actual job that would allow him to have lived in the real world and to actually relate to the people that he is supposed to represent. He is a child (not just in age – I’m not much older than him); his behavior has demonstrated this time and time again. He is in tight with those that hold power in the Conservative party, and he is smug beyond belief. Can you tell that I really, really, don’t like this man? It doesn’t surprise me one bit that he has sent a letter to constituents that is rife with half-truths and misleading statements, I think it brings a smile to his face to see how far down he can pull the wool over people’s eyes.

    I’m glad to see there are others in this riding that see past it all. I hope we aren’t the only ones.