Tracking the Copyright Consultation Discussion Forum – Through August 17, 2009

I last posted an update on the copyright consultation discussion forum on August 4, 2009.  Discussion has slowed since, but the total number of comments for the first question on how copyright affects you is closing in on 1,000 responses.  Frances Munn provides a summary.

Copyright and You

How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?

August 17, 2009 (841 responses)

Over the last couple of weeks, posters were concerned that the government would act in the interest of big corporations rather than consumers. Posters mainly urged the government to expand personal use protections, fair dealing, and create a technologically neutral law. Others opposed following the American example on copyright where individuals are being sued by powerful interests.


  • The most recent poster identified as a musician and urged the government to leave copyright laws alone, arguing that he was happy that the Internet allowed people to have easy access to his music.
  • A writer pointed out that he or she only makes five to ten cents off every book sold, but took a consumer centred position. He or she urged the government to limit DRM and statutory damages.
  • Other writers argued that they need to be paid for their work in order to continue creating and urged the government to create laws that would ensure writers are fairly compensated.
  • Another poster argued that a three-strikes “graduated response” law was completely unreasonable.
  • One poster argued that copyright should stop pitting creators and consumers against each other. The poster proposed that creators be paid by public-private partnerships that draw on taxes, corporate profits, license fees, government subventions, and educational budgets. 
  • One person began a heated debate when he strongly opposed a “something for nothing” system, arguing that it is unfair for creators to produce work for free.
  • Another poster began a debate when he suggested limiting copyright terms to five years.

Test of Time

Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?

Monday, August 17, 2009 (138 responses)

Posters pointed out that file sharing is almost impossible to stop and that the DMCA has had a “chilling” effect on innovation. One poster proposed banning DRM altogether, arguing that in the free market, industries should be left to adapt to new technologies. Others argued for expanded personal use and fair dealing rights.

Innovation and Creativity

What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?

Monday, August 17, 2009 (292 responses)


  • Several posters argued that anti-circumvention legislation destroys innovation.
  • Another person argued that the law should protect the creator, not someone who wishes to use the creator’s work.
  • One poster argued that copyright laws should be written in clear and plain language.
  • A writer pointed out that they relied on book and article sales to make a livelihood.

Competition and Investment

What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?

Monday, August 17, 2009 (52 responses)


  • One poster proposed lowering prices in order to sell more for less – e.g. 1000 CDs for $1 rather than 100 CDs for $10.
  • Another person suggested differentiating between commercial, public, and personal use.
  • One person cautioned the government against protecting a digital media monopoly that will stifle innovation.
  • On the other side of the debate, one poster began a heated debate when he argued that Canada needs “iron-clad” copyright laws to foster innovation.

Digital Economy

What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?

Monday, August 17, 2009 (330 responses)


  • The most recent poster cautioned the government against trying to control the spread of information on the Internet, arguing that it would fail in the long run.
  • A poster argued for more freedom and privacy online and proposed implementing a levy on hardware.
  • Another poster proposed differentiating between commercial use, non-profit use, and private use where private use is exempt from copyright restrictions.
  • One person warned that crackdowns on P2P will only lead to increased usage and described a three-strike’s law as draconian.
  • Another poster argued that anti-circumvention should not apply to locked cell phones.


  1. Role switch
    Who would have thought the voice of reason would come from people online. With cesspools like twitter I’d lost faith in the online community but there are a few left that haven’t fell to the dark-side of the internet that propaganda pushers like CNN and other news networks promote to make their own medium like a little more reasonable.

  2. CRTC recent ruling a joke on Canadians
    Couldn’t find your e-mail so I’m posting here, sorry, but I saw a story yesterday on the CBC web page on how the CRTC has ruled that the smaller ISP’s now have to pay per GB whenever their customers download. I’m surprise this isn’t being mentioned more in the media because this ruling changes everything.

  3. CRTC recent ruling a joke on Canadians
    Forgot to mention it was Bell who gets the money from charging us per Gigabyte.

  4. the whole problem is not creators vs. consumers, it’s “content pimps” vs. consumers
    > Other writers argued that they need to be paid for their work in order to continue creating and urged
    > the government to create laws that would ensure writers are fairly compensated.”

    This is outside the scope of copyright and is an economic problem between creators (both writers and musicians) and their pimps, er, I mean label/publisher/distributors.

    > One poster argued that copyright should stop pitting creators and consumers against each other.

    I don’t think copyright (existing and/or proposed) is pitting “creators” against consumers (and vice versa). It’s the pimps of these creators that are all in a tizzy about the Internet and copying and who are pushing these draconian proposals down the consumers’ throats.

    Because you see, in the supply chain of creator->distributor->consumer, the only link which is expendable and quite frankly adding little-to-no value anymore and screwing both ends of the supply chain is the distribution. Writers (both song and literature) need to stop using pimps (who are not even compensating them fairly) to get their material out there and market directly. A few mainstream musicians are getting this I think. More need to.

    > The poster proposed that creators be paid by public-private partnerships that draw on taxes,
    > corporate profits, license fees, government subventions, and educational budgets.

    That’s crap. We don’t need more pigs at the trough. Creators need to stop whoring themselves to distribution which only screws them anyway and market directly to consumers. The creators will get more of the consumer’s dollar and the consumer will pay a lot less for the creation because the fat-cat pimps in the middle, who are not adding any value anyway, will be removed, along with their huge markups and profits.

  5. What forum
    Sorry Michael, but what “forum” are these discussions that you are posting summaries taking place on? Is it a message board, or responses to blog posts?


  6. Bob Morris says:

    US-backed CIPPIC Extends Lessig culture de voleur Agenda in Canada
    Canada is at the beginning of “consultations” for an overhaul of their copyright law. (“Consultations” are what we in the US might call “field hearings” or “notice of inquiry” type proceedings.) I’m particularly interested in the Canadian music industry as I lived in Montreal and Toronto for over 5 years and worked with some of the top artists in both English and French Canada (many of whom are now iconic Canadian artists).

    Naturally, the US-backed “free culture” types are coming out of the woodwork to advance the Lessig agenda through their Canadian front groups, and none are greater water carriers for those ideas than Mr. Wedgie, often referred to as the “Canadian [Wannabe] Lessig”. The description is more apt than one might think.

    For example-Mr. Wedgie continually harps about how he is a proud Canadian and that he looks for a proudly Canadian solution to Canada’s copyright issues—solutions that smack of the very American party line from Lessig, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and the other Lessig front groups. It would be interesting to see a side by side comparison of the “solutions” posed by all these groups (also compared to Google’s litigation strategy).

    The Wedge’s “Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic” appears to be Canadian in name only. The CIPPIC website proudly boasts that its founding was proudly funded by a grant to The Prideful Wedge from Amazon and proudly received further grants from rich Silicon Valley types. Its “external” advisory board includes one EFF, one rich Silicon Valley academic and…big finish…Lester Lawrence Lessig III –well positioned to keep an eye on his boy The Wedge. 3 out of the 5 are Yanks and the only contributions they talk about are Yankee dollars.

    Talk about your Uncle Dudley. A dedicated follower of Lessig.

    Yet–at the outset of these copyright consultations, Mr. Wedgie goes for his reliable wedge politics–Canada shouldn’t yield to outside political pressure. The country that is the source of that political pressure is not named, but those of us who follow The Wedge know he’s talking about guess who?

    Yanks Under the Bed.

    The Yanks Under the Bed are easy to find this time. Mr. Wedge should start by looking under his own bed which was paid for with Yankee greenbacks and is well-populated with Yanks.

    The truth, of course, is that Mr. Wedgie’s problem is not just with the Yanks-it’s with every country that values its culture and is trying to preserve that culture against the onslaught of the culture de voleur, from Japan to the UK, from Germany to France, even China is beginning to come around.

    When you read Mr. Wedgie’s “concerns” about copyright, you could just as easily be reading from Charles Nesson’s briefs in the Tenenbaum case, the EFF’s “deep thoughts” blog, or Free Culture. All these US “copyright reform” advocates want essentially the same thing: Cut back artist rights, put up more roadblocks, confuse the rights environment even more than it is already, and make it more difficult for songwriters, recording artists, illustrators, film makers, photographers–creators in general–to survive without a day job. And that is what you should hear when you hear the “copyright reform” dog whistle from Mr. Wedgie and his US-backed thought leaders. As Fred von Lohmann of the EFF told me, “artists just need to learn to get along on less money.”

    The “access” mantra of the culture de voleur is that they want copyright–but their way, which is copyright “over, under, sideways, down” as little copyright as possible. Their way means a major disruption in the international laws that have allowed artists an opportunity to succeed for generations. Their way always involves a major cutback in artists’ rights and incomes. Their way would give the final kick to the destruction of the economic and human rights of creators and excuse the cruel theft of labor value that is the hallmark of the Internet’s history to date.

    In the words of the Latin American economist Hernando de Soto: “Imagine a country where the law that governs property rights is so deficient that nobody can easily identify who owns what, addresses cannot be systematically verified, and people cannot be made to pay their debts.”

    That is a very apt description of the Internet’s collision with the creative community with the shining exceptions of iTunes, Myspace Music, Hulu and a few others. These exceptions have generated billions in revenue for the creative community, respect rights, negotiate agreements and make payments. And they all started with the premise that artist rights should be respected and paid for.

    Mr. Wedgie does nothing to advocate a system of property rights that would allow these rights respecting companies and the artists they compensate to flourish–in fact, he spends most of his time looking for Yanks Under the Bed chasing lock pickers.

  7. Yeah I saw that as well, and read that as well, by the Castle guy. There is more…

    After I read it I decided to read Lessig (I had never read him before). Although I liked what I read, I can’t help but think Dr. Geist is a bit of a rip-off. Makes me even wonder if he is the one writing here, which I am doubting as well.

    When you look at the TekSavvy-CRTC fight it reminds me of what I read in the into, preface and chatpers 1-2 about RCA and Kodak.

    The fight is almost exactly the same using the exact same arguments as lessig.

    I lost faith.

    May as well call him Dr. America.

    Feel a bit cheated here.

    Ah well. c’est la vie.

    I’m standing down from now on.

    Though I agree with lessig kind of, who is talking to us here? I raise the same question with some other sites/blogs as well, including the privacy commissioner.

    Adios. Not my cup of tea.

    Made my head spin reading all that.

  8. Canada and WIPO
    Interesting that there are a couple of comments that attempt to denigrate Michael’s opinions and his blog.
    Yes, his opinions on copyright can be seen as similar to Lessig’s.
    And the CRIA and CMPDA opinions are similar to their US counterparts.

    The issues are similar in the US and in Canada. Copyright laws are similar. Why would it be surprising that Lawrence Lessig and Michael Geist have similar perspectives? Often an idea “comes of age” and becomes obvious to many people at the same time, in many places. And in the internet age, the exchange of ideas crosses all boundaries. Age, education, country, financial position, whatever. Ideas take on a life of their own, regardless of the source.

    If you are smart, you will ignore the “source” of an idea or opinion and simply consider the concepts. How do they match your personal perspective and views? Speak your part based on the way you see it. If you happen to agree or disagree with someone, so what? It’s still the way you see it.

    Michael, it sounds like you have struck some nerves. The trolls are arriving. They are attempting to divert attention away from the message, by attacking the messenger. So keep up the good work, and focus on the message.

  9. M. Sc. B. Eng M. Eng P. Eng
    Danger from using a form letter sent:

    There is a note on the copyright consultations page about a “form letter” originating from a single IP address. Even if you agree with the sentiment in the form letter, try to express the ideas in your own words and send from your own e-mail address, less your submission be disregarded as spam.

  10. Drew Wilson says:

    “Although I liked what I read, I can’t help but think Dr. Geist is a bit of a rip-off. Makes me even wonder if he is the one writing here, which I am doubting as well.”

    I’ll take this “rip-off” any day of the week. This blog is vital to digital Canadians concerned about their rights online. Lessig, last I checked, is concerned about US political issues.