Where Are The Copyight Consultation Submissions?

For the past week, I've been receiving daily emails from Canadians asking if I know why their copyight consultation submission has not been posted.  The website currently includes some submissions for every day the consultation was open (September 15th), yet there are thousands of submissions that are still not up.  My last update accounted for just over 4,000 submissions and there are rumours that the final number topped 7,000 (10 times the number of submissions in the 2001 consultation).  While some delay in processing and posting all of those submissions is reasonable, the lack of information about the situation is not.  The government opened the consultation with a strong commitment to openness and transparency.  That should continue to the end of the consultation with a full update on status of the missing submissions, the reasons for the delays, and the anticipated date for the posting of all submissions.


  1. Timely and much appreciated.
    Thank you so much! I’m not alone.

    I’ve been trying to contact the Copyright Policy Branch at Heritage to no avail regarding my own submission dated 07-09-2009.

    Since Tuesday, a daily voice mail message requesting an update has gone unanswered. I’m unaware of a working email address which would be preferred over voice.

    It’s been frustrating but your post on this matter means I’ll sleep more easily tonight…

    All the best.

  2. Cameron McMaster says:

    Policy Researcher and Coordinator of the Documentary Organization of Canada
    Thanks for writing a post on this. WGC and us were concerned about this too! It is important that the public know about the views of everyone that submitted not just those that happened be chosen to be put on the website.

  3. Richard L. Hess says:

    My comments are missing as well
    Thank you, Michael, for covering this.

    My comments which were submitted on September 9th have also not been posted.



  4. Matthew Skala says:

    I was thinking of writing to you about that myself – others from the day I sent mine in are posted, but mine isn’t. I decided not to add to your incoming email because I noticed that for many days including mine, there are exactly five submissions posted. Not four or six, always five.

    It’s not plausible, if mine and a few others were randomly missed or even deleted on purpose for some reason, that the result would be exactly five remaining per day. Seems more likely there’s something systematic going on independent of the submission content. For instance, I could imagine someone saying to someone else, “Well, if you don’t have time to do them all right now, make sure you get at least five up for each day to show we’re making an effort…”

    I also notice that these submissions are being pretty heavily edited before posting. For instance, they’re inserting pop-up explanations of abbreviations like “DVD” (hover over that anywhere it’s mentioned and you see the expansion “Digital Versatile Disc.”) If they’re doing that all by hand, it’ll consume a LOT of labour and in that case it’d be quite plausible that they just haven’t had time to process any more submissions than have been posted. I’d either skip the deep editing, or write software to do it, but it’s quite plausible that the government doesn’t manage such processes the way I would.

  5. Richard L. Hess says:

    Also the posted ones are all short

    Very good points! I noticed that all the ones I looked at were short. Maybe they don’t post ones longer than 25 lines or something like that.

  6. Thanks for the news
    Yeah, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one wondering why my submission isn’t up there!

  7. I slid mine in under the wire….
    So I’d expect it to be the last to be posted, but this is distrubing news. If people want to see it check here:

    I was surprised to find that I’m in the extreme anti-copyright camp, for philosophical reasons. When the market value of information divorced from media approaches zero, can you price fix by government fiat? Any comments/critiques would be awesome.

  8. Sorry but this is childish. The suggestion is that they are incompetent or engaged in some conspiracy (a frequent Geist suggestion) when in fact this is taking no longer than it takes for a U of Ottawa prof to grade an assignment. What are they not being transparent about?

  9. I believe he just means it would be nice if they mentioned their status / progress and which days are complete somewhere. Some people (including me) were confused because their process isn’t clear. For example, it looks like the day I posted is done (there is already posts from the day after, so the obvious conclusion to me was that my day was done) but mine wasn’t up there, so I was worried that I screwed up and didn’t submit it right or something. They aren’t posting them based on first come first server obviously.. What are they doing?

  10. I used the CCER web form
    It did not CC me, so there was really no way to confirm that it actually sent something. I wonder if it did!

  11. Was wondering where mine was as well.

  12. unemployed
    i got an e-mail back from Stephen Harper! I’m sure my suggestions will be taken to heart now!

  13. For my part, I submitted mine in three separate file formats, for ease of conversion and posting on their end.

    Fat lot of good that did.

  14. I submitted a full essay
    On the last day. Not posted.

    I doesn’t matter though, Tony Clement said at the end of the Toronto Town Hall that his government was frustrated that they hadn’t been able to ratify WIPO. They intend to, and to criminalize the Canadian populace en masse in doing so, and this ‘Consultation’ is simply part of the political game to make the process look legitimate.

    If it weren’t it wouldn’t be understaffed, the town halls would have limited attendance by the lobbyists (to maybe 50%?), and the lottery to see who could speak at them would have been publicly drawn in front of the crowd.

    Yes, yes, I know, this is ‘how things are done’, but it’s also how they fail.

  15. So WIPO is to be ratified over the voters’ informed objections?
    Disturbing, if true. Not a desirable outcome.

  16. I sent a multi-paragraph submission that amounted to somewhere between 2000 and 3000 words. I sent it about a week into the consultation, and it was posted a couple of weeks later.

    That said, I’m not sure that many of our submissions are going to taken seriously. I can’t ditch the gut feeling that this was naught much more than a pretense by our government to listen to the public… that what they will ultimately do depends on the organizations that fund their election campaigns.

  17. My submission is missing as well.
    Mine was not on the website either. The server also crashed while I was there. I often find the admins on the sites rather unqualified for their responsibilities. It may merely be incompetence as many government of Canada websites show this kind of flaky behavior and shoddy workmanship.

    Unable to connect to remote system
    The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
    Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
    More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

  18. Re: Bob Morris
    The government committed to an open public consultation. Geist isn’t hinting at some conspiracy, mainly asking questions as to why the public interest hasn’t received an explanation from the host of these consultations Nik Nanos with respect to the delay. The CRTC who holds public hearings on a regular basis has been way more efficient at posting public comments. Throughout this whole process Nanos has been extremely sluggish with releasing public content to the site. That says nothing about conspiracy, more for the fact that they weren’t prepared for the number of responses, and should have been considering tens of thousands of Canadians have already made it clear to their MP’s where they stand the last time the Government tried to re-vamp copyright laws.

    Regardless of what comes out of this consultation, the public interest in this is extremely strong, with the vast majority of interested Canadians calling for fair copyright provisions. This consultation from my perspective was a waste of time and tax payers money. The government already has the public input on this subject for the past 2 years. There was no need for a consultation, especially one that has been paid by tax payers, and run extremely poorly compared to other government agencies that do conduct public consultations on a regular basis. If the public’s voice doesn’t represent itself in the next copyright bill, there will be hell to pay big time.

  19. “If the public’s voice doesn’t represent itself in the next copyright bill, there will be hell to pay big time.”

    The voting public, and opposition parties will ensure those responsible up on the hill will be dealt with in respect to the public interest, and their current positions, and possibly and audit of this consultation to see how much money went down the tubes. That my friend you can 100% count on.

  20. Email your MP
    One good idea posted was to cc or email your submission to your local MP in addition to sending it to the consultation site.

  21. 7000 submissions is just a tad short of the 20+ million voters so I don’t for a moment think the Government will feel it has to take this seriously.

  22. 15 minutes of fame
    What a bunch of whiners! Give it a rest already! The number of submissions tops 7,000, according to the Master Whiner and Chief, and everyone wants an instant response. People, this is operate-at-a-snails-pace-government. It’s not going to happen overnight, and probably not anytime soon.

    However, there are, according to the last “update”, 4,000 comments already posted. So instead of checking everyday to see when your name is going to appear on the site, here’s a thought…check out some of the other comments there. There’s some pretty amazing dialogue going on and more thoughts and ideas than I ever thought existed on the subject of copyright. I’ve never participated in a governnment consultation before, especially an online one. I was just pleased to have the opportunity to provide my comments…whining about when MY comment gets posted is not why I participated in the first place. boo hoo!

  23. Thank you Michael
    I never would have checked to see if my submission was posted had I not read this here. My submission (13 Sep) is also not up.

  24. Re: Bob Morris
    We’ll see…add that 7000 to those that have already spoke on this issue, and those in the respected industries who are prepared to fight for fair copyright values, and you turn up with the majority of Canadians who are for fair copyright. Regardless of the outcome it will be basically industry and free market that decides this. Government intervention can do very little for those who don’t follow the marketplace in a free market environment. Geists efforts are honorable, but at this point not necessary for the majority who have already spoken on this.

    Consumers have already won, the rest is academic or downfall. Choose your path wisely.

  25. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    on speaking out
    The biggest reason people are looking for their copycon submissions is that we want to know if they got there.

    Were our missing submissions lost? Misplaced? Censored? We don’t know. If they have been, we will need the opportunity to re-submit.

    Canadians have clearly invested an enormous amount of energy into this. We’ve invested a lot of ourselves. The fact that the government site appears to have been completed is what is making people nervous. The fact that they are not answering any requests does not help. Did they really want to hear from Canadians or was the copycon just some cruel joke?

    If our government would kindly clue in Professor Geist I’m sure he’ll broadcast it so we’ll stop phoning and emailing the government. Once we know that our submissions have been received we’ll all be able to sleep better.

    In the meantime I’ve been greatly informed by the thoughtful submissions made by my fellow citizens.

  26. David Collier-Brown says:

    They were slow on mine, but got it up
    I suspect it was far more successful than they expected.
    But then I’m a capacity planner, so I see that a lot (;-))


  27. Russell McOrmond says:

    Documentation issue / Free Market?
    I sent my submission in 3 formats, including HTML, on September 11’th. I asked to receive confirmation of receipt, and I received a confirmation email on the 15’th. If I had not received that email I would be worried that my submission had not been received.

    This is not a conspiracy as incorrectly suggested by one comment, but a situation where some information about the status of the process would be helpful.

    Jason K said:
    “Government intervention can do very little for those who don’t follow the marketplace in a free market environment.”

    Copyright exists almost entirely outside of a free market environment. I can’t go through the submissions made, recognise which individual creators have chosen business paths that will fail, and not purchase their wares. There are a number of creator groups and industry associations being abused to shield any type of market information for consumers.

    For music it is easy for me — I’m a customer of eMusic and simply don’t bother with any music where the copyright holders refuse my money and don’t offer DRM free music via a platform independent download (IE: iTunes, Puretracks, etc simply don’t exist for me). Composers/performers who want my money will need to offer their music to me in a reasonable way. If their label is in the way, then they need to fight to bypass that label that will eventually fail (even with the expected government manipulation of the marketplace by the “conservatives”)

    I use nearly 100% Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) with a few non-FLOSS but still legally free packages I’m temporarily stuck with (IE: Adobe Flash player). I can pay money directly to support this software, and not be supporting any of what I consider to be failing business models.

    For other copyrighted works it isn’t as easy — I’ve love to never watch a television show that was authored by someone from the Writers Guild of Canada, but that option isn’t available to me. I also have to ask if that would be fair to the people involved in the show who might not be as much of an extremist as the WGC submission to the consultation suggested authors were? Did the executive of this association actually get the support of their members for this submission?

    Free markets require market information and market control that simply doesn’t exist with copyright sectors. I wish it did work that way, allowing failing business models to fail rather than continue to be propped up by government.

  28. “7000 submissions is just a tad short of the 20+ million voters so I don’t for a moment think the Government will feel it has to take this seriously. ”
    Thats what I thought about the turnout for the federal election 🙂

  29. I know the government is extremely slow in pretty much everything it does, but even just a little note that says “we’re still working on it!” would go a long way for those of us that wrote long letters. My MP did acknowledge receipt though, so at least someone confirmed it.

  30. I actually sent my submission twice because I received not acknowledgment of receipt and the initial submission didn’t appear.

    I understand that there might be delays, but posting only a handful of submissions from each day without explanation is somewhat misleading.

  31. Opposition MP questions about mismanagement in Parliament anyone?
    That might speed things up. The least they could have done is send out confirmation receipts.

    But this is great, because we’ve spoken, we’ve now got a right to complain, and we are:D

  32. Opportunity to send and Be Heard Timely
    > I was just pleased to have the opportunity to provide my comments…whining about when MY comment gets posted is not why I participated in the first place. boo hoo!

    You may be pleased having an opportunity to send your comments, but so what if it’s not posted timely? You might as well type your thoughts and delete them. There’s your opportunity.

    > here’s a thought…check out some of the other comments there.

    Here’s a thought… you probably wrote less than 5 lines, so why should you care when it’s posted? No, I am not whining, only in your ego’s imagination. Nevertheless, the government seems to want to hear Canadians on copyright law, but doesn’t provide any status for the process should have you concerned about the legitimacy and sincerity of the process!

    (Stacked consultation room with industry cartels, anyone?)


  33. Trolls arithmetic
    “7000 submissions is just a tad short of the 20+ million voters so I don’t for a moment think the Government will feel it has to take this seriously.”

    Re:Bob Morris.

    I remind you that this government represent a minority of Canadians and that putting false numbers such as 20 millions voters it shows that you are just a troll.

    Population: 32,976,026
    Voters: 23,401,064 (71%)
    Votes: 13,832,972 (42%)
    Conservatives: 5,208,793 (15%)

  34. Re: Russell McOrmond
    Hasn’t free market already reigned here with respect to dying business models? A large portion of the market now shares files online, authorized or not. That was the choice made by the market, and quite obviously not by industry. Wouldn’t it make logical sense to built copyright around that structure, rather than propping up dead business models that really don’t have any chance in moving forward regardless of law, and trying to inhibit the activity? Wouldn’t inhibiting the activity of sharing data through law, actually cause a substantial amount of damage to the market? Hasn’t that what has already occured over the past decade?

    I’m half in tech and half in the music industry at the moment, and there are strong indications and evidence to tie file sharing directly into other area’s of the industry that stand to lose a substantial amount of income if we put forth laws intended to inhibit the sharing of data and media. We’ve already passed that tipping point in many industries. File Sharing is an integrated part of industry now (and will be for all effected industries as well). I’ve heard several artists and creators in this consultation stating that they want the choice on whether they want they works shared or not. That choice doesn’t exist, and can not exist in the current marketplace. If you don’t want your works to be shared, than find a different career path! The creative communities need to get in bed with the enemy if they have any chance in surviving much longer.

    Once a better understanding of this is put forth, than I think you’ll see more labels (outside the majors) adapt to this in a much more aggressive way, and push out the old regime as the new successors become more in tune with and understand where the money and market is currently located. Hence “Free Market” in which change has already occurred, and continuing to move forward.

    Over the past 2 years there has been some very significant reports coming out of the music industry that strongly suggest just how integrated file sharing has become, and what areas will be effected if we start to inhibit those networks (which can stand up in Canadian Court thus a massively strong legal defense is offered to consumers) and has yet to be fully argued in a court of law. The legal defenses in the US have been extremely weak, and not offering up any argument on the economics of the situation, and know very well that legal experts here in Canada are preparing to make the economic argument if need be in Canadian courts to protect consumers from frivolous lawsuits, which will help to end this war.

  35. Re: Russell McOrmond
    to get to my point…lol…Free content has value as it does with open source. It’s finding where the value is located and market the product using the returned value which will turn into $$$. Different products like open source provide different values to both the creator and consumer. The consumer will have the choice in media eventually, as they do with open source. There is a sector of the music industry that’s already adapted quite nicely and making some very good $$$ with lots of success stories, ironically it’s also the side of the industry that’s always been at the forefront of technological change and pushes these changes into the mainstream. Within the next 2 years, a lot of very new and powerful players will be out in the industry offering creative talent a choice between Kraft Dinner, and Gourmet Sushi.