The End of Bill C-61

With every reason to believe that Canada will be in the midst of an election campaign by next week, Canwest runs a story on how an election call will kill Bill C-61. This raises at least two issues.  First, C-61 may dead but copyright reform Canada is still very much alive.  Regardless of who forms the next government, copyright will almost certainly be on the agenda. Indeed, Prentice is quoted as saying that he would like to be the Minister that sees it through.  I plan to complete the 61 Reforms to C-61 and C-61 in 61 Seconds projects since these same issues are obviously bound to return when the next copyright bill is introduced.

Second, the election campaign provides an exceptionally important opportunity to speak out on copyright.  Over the past two months, the reaction to C-61 has overwhelmed many politicians.  Some have acknowledged that it was the top issue among constituent correspondence, others have held town hall meetings in response to local concerns, and yet others have sought to make it an election issue.  There are indications of some Conservative MPs expressing some misgivings about the bill.  Several Liberals have articulated their own copyright principles and committed to a public consultation and the NDP has remained the most vocal critic of C-61. 

Raising the profile of copyright has required thousands of Canadians to pro-actively contact their elected representatives. Starting next week, those same representatives (and would-be representatives) will be seeking you out.  They will be knocking on doors, making phone calls, attending all-candidates meetings, and generally doing their best to convince voters that they will best represent their interests. I believe that this presents an exceptional opportunity to ask the question – where do you stand on important digital issues such as C-61 and Canadian copyright reform?  Does your local Conservative candidate support the reintroduction of Bill C-61 or would they work toward amendments before it returns?  Is your local Liberal candidate willing to commit to public consultations before the introduction of any new copyright bill?  Is your NDP or Green candidate firmly against the approach in C-61?  These are the questions (along with positions on net neutrality, telecom competition, broadband access, and privacy) that need to be asked again and again and again this fall.  Bill C-61 may be about to die, but the prospect of Canadian DMCA-like legislation remains very much alive.


  1. Priorities
    Copyright is an important issue, to be sure. But…so are the economy, health, social issues, defence, foreign policy, education. And for the great majority of Canadians, those will be the issues that decide their vote. Especially as politicians can be relied on not to keep their promises anyway

  2. Re: Priorities
    Sure there are many issues. But a problem that I’m finding (and I’m sure I’m not alone) is that none of our major parties really have a great platform on those issues at the moment. They’ve got their general stances, and they tell you they’re better than the other parties. When it comes down to it, however, the Liberals, NDP, and the Conservatives are all going to mismanage economy, health care, foreign policy, etc. It’s what the government does. So I’d rather have a government that mismanages those other issues and consults on fair copyright reform than a government that mismanages those other issues and pushes DMCA-like legislation through Parliament.

  3. Re: Priorities
    Theres an interesting trend, and one that Michael Geist has brought up a few times.

    Copyright is a hot topic, and a topic very near and dear to a very large portion of the younger generations. With so many young people being so well informed about the copyright issues, do you really think they can’t swing the vote in one direction or the other?

    A College campus of 2000 in a city with a margin of only 1000 votes could make all the difference in the world. Check out Michael’s story’s on the copyright MP’s. I’m a constituent in Brant county, where there was such a close call, and I can guarantee that whichever MP is willing to step up and right for *my* rights as a consumer, as a creator, and as a citizen that will define Canada in the future, will have my vote.

    I am as yet undecided as to what party I will vote. And I’m sure there will be many more out there that are the same.

    Economy, health, social issues, defence, foreign policy, education? These issues all have some merit, but a party that has great policy’s on all of these issues, but wants to throw me in jail for ripping my DVD’s onto my iPod video will most certainly *NOT* get my vote.


  4. Whew
    Well, that’s a relief.

    I’m going to meet with my MP next week, I’ll make clear that this will be an important election issue for people. This election does represent an opportunity for people to make a point with politicians. Election time is when they’re going to have no choice but to listen to what people want, if they want to get the votes they need.

  5. Good Opportunity Here
    As Michael mentions, there will be no doubt canvasing in neighborhoods. While we all have our concerns, one for me will be copyright reform and the proposed bill C-61. In short, anyone canvasing will get a ear full from me.

    I feel it is an important issue and hope the candidates have put some thought in to this. I certainly do not want to ridicule some poor sole out volunteering for a party.

  6. Next video competition
    Next video competition must be about interactions between the government and Canadians.

    Because next bill might be C-62, and it may be even worse than this one. It is about holding the government accountable before Canadians.

  7. And Good Riddance
    I will certainly take the time to re-write my MP, and other candidates, to stress how terrible C-61, and especially its whole approach, is. I will also remember to stress how the process that gave birth to it was profoundly flawed, and that for the same reasons we need to mind our sovereignty much better on all subjects. I will stress that there is an historic opportunity for a platform of liberty and human rights (including fair use), at this juncture of our country’s development. We are in very different times, a new era, from the when Pierre Trudeau was in office, and it’s been really stagnant and corrupt ever since, with the exception of being quietly sold out to the USA via NAFTA. It’s getting on about time for some real action, real progress, and some strong reaffirmations of our rights and prized social systems (eg. healthcare).

    And let’s not forget ACTRA. It’s our government yet again doing shit behind our backs, in secret, unaccountably, and without any public input, too. THIS SHOULD NOT BE THEIR CHOICE.

    61 reforms are not enough.

  8. And yet, on a show of hands, Canadians might reintroduce the death penalty, ban abortions and abolish income tax.

  9. Karl Stevens says:

    Bill C-61 encourages piracy
    In 2002, when the Canadian copyright board first began down this road, they summarized the written submissions of stakeholders. One of the most striking things about this summary brought to light the difference between “infingement” and “piracy”. Piracy, they wrote “involves commercial-scale operations and a profit motive”.

    In a recent article on copyright and culture, Andy Oram said our culture “consists entirely of shared copyrightable expression.” I could not have put it better – this is the definition of culture.

    Bill C-61, at it’s core, not only encourages, but *legalizes* the removal of culture from the public domain, and permanently gives it to large corporations soley for their profit (even once the copyright has expired, it will still be illegal to access DRM-locked material in ways that the original producer doesn’t like.)

    This sounds an awful lot like the copyright’s description of “piracy” to me.

  10. Copyright and the Economy
    With all due respect to the other comments, copyright IS about the economy. I think that is the key message that needs to be communicated to MPs and candidates. Intellectual property is at the heart of a huge amount of economic activity in Canada today and will only become more important tomorrow. The Conservatives seem to think that Bill C-61 is only about “protecting artists”, but copyright has a much bigger economic role in software and firmware. Think about every device you own that has software or firmware (computers, cell phones, cars, DVRs, GPS, PDAs, appliances). Realize that if copyright is redefined in the way proposed by the Conservatives you will be effectively restricted to the uses, purposes and conditions of the authors of that software or firmware. The drastic changes in technology mean that the status quo for copyright is not an option. Either Parliament will update it, or the Courts will do their best to reinterpret it, but in any event, it will have a huge effect on Canadian business and the economy.

  11. Freshwatermermaid says:

    priorities this fall
    I strongly feel that this issue is an important topic in the upcoming election and I don’t believe that discussing it needs to impinge on other issues. The ability for me to use and share information privately directly affects military and police surveillance of me as a citizen, the ability of teachers to transfer media directly affects quality and access to education for those who have difficulty affording it, small businesses are affected by peer reviews of new products and then market exposure etc.

    Our government is indeed answerable to us on issues of policy, foreign affairs, education, poverty, economic stability and more. That doesn’t mean skip copyright for more important things, it means involve the issues together as that is what makes up a viable platform. I’ll be voting my conscience using this issue and several others as an indicator.

  12. Help others get involved
    I agree with taking the time to write local candidates

    suggestion: someone set up an auto-mailer for all the emails of candidates for all the ridings in Canada

    make it that much easier for people to find out what their local candidates/parties position are on copyright the same way thousands wrote their MP’s about their dissatisfaction with the proposed legislation.

  13. Based on Stephane Dion’s commitment to consult with Canadians I’ve taken out an adword advertising campaign to get those interested in killing Bill C-61 to donate to the Liberal Party ($100 gets you $75 tax credit).

    If the US and media interests can get the Minister’s ear, imagine what we can do with 100,000 of us (or portion thereof) for the small cost of $25 (net) each. Ohh … and after you donate … WRITE so they know why!! My $0.02 to kill the future Conservative Bill C61.

  14. End of C-61? You must be kidding. Given C-61 is just a sequel to the C-60 before 2004 federal election, it will just turn into something worse in C-62. Besides, their is a good chance that Conservatives to become majority, which means the next government will simply demolish civil liberty by political brute force.