Tracking the Copyright Consultation Discussion Forum: Final Results

Throughout the copyright consultation, I've been assisted by University of Ottawa student Frances Munn, who has been tracking the discussion in the online forum (earlier updates here, here, and here).  While submissions will still be accepted until midnight tonight, the discussion forum is now closed.   The forum attracted over 2,000 comments with a summary posted below.

Copyright and You

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

September 13, 2009 (1183 responses)

Many posters spoke out against DRM and a three-strikes rule while also supporting more consumer rights such as fair use and personal copying and backup rights for legitimately purchased materials. In addition, many people were concerned about the unfair influence of big corporations in the copyright debate. As well, many artists argued that they had the right to be compensated for their work and that online file-sharing was theft. Finally, there were several philosophical discussions behind the meaning and definition of “copyright” in the Internet age.

  • A poster discussed the idea of “culture” as a right rather than a privilege mostly enjoyed by the more advantaged and suggested instituting some sort of royalty tax system.
  • One poster pointed out that “art” was not solely limited to people being paid to write or perform, and would endure even under open copyright laws.
  • One discussion debated whether copyright terms should be shortened.
  • One poster opposed Bill C-61, arguing that businesses should adapt to the new realities of file-sharing over the Internet.
  • Another poster argued that musicians deserve to be compensated fairly and that it was difficult to make a decent living off live performances.
  • One teacher pointed out that educators do not have the budgets to afford the high cost of using media in classrooms.
  • Many posters were wary about following a U.S. model on copyright, pointing to high million dollar lawsuits for downloading a few songs.
  • One poster worried about privacy violations that could occur if ISPs were given powers to control and collect information.
  • Another person pointed to studies that show people who use P2P also buy more media.
  • Many posters pointed out that they were satisfied with current laws and that they did not need to be updated.

Test of Time

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

September 13, 2009 (175 responses)

  • The most recent poster argued that copyright terms were too long, pointing to Microsoft Windows 3.1 as an example of software that would be obsolete by the time it entered the public domain.
  • Another person was concerned about copyright laws that would lead to our culture being concentrated in the hands of a few powerful interests.
  • One poster cautioned the government against enacting laws that will lead to punitive damages because the online community continues to develop better ways of encrypting data.
  • Another poster said that Canada could learn from the mistakes of the American DMCA and avoid passing a similar reform bill with anti-circumvention provisions.
  • One person argued that personal freedoms had to be protected and that it was “useless” to hold websites like The Pirate Bay accountable for links they provide.
  • Another person urged the government to protect the public domain and fair dealing.
  • An artist proposed expanding the definition of “artistic work” to include digital art and even artistic forms of work that have yet to be invented.
  • One person proposed creating broad legislation based on principles that would continue to apply as technology changes.
  • One poster suggested penalizing unauthorized file-sharers with heavy fines rather than protecting DRM.
  • Several people felt that it would be impossible for laws to “withstand the test of time” when technology changes so quickly.

Innovation and Creativity

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

September 13, 2009 (359 responses)

Many people argued for more copyright “freedom” in order to foster creativity such as a stronger public domain, expanded fair dealing, and shorter copyright terms. On the other hand, several posters argued that artists needed stronger copyright laws and protections. Others were concerned that government was bowing to pressure from big business.

  • One person argued for net neutrality and an end to DRM.
  • One person pointed out that Youtube enjoys a huge supply of free content and should pay creators for their content.
  • One person was concerned that innovation in Canada would die if it became illegal to reverse engineer software or “hack” media.
  • Another person argued that there should be exemptions for education and that the government should be financially supportive of innovation and creativity.
  • A poster strongly supported expanding moral rights for artists.
  • Another poster suggested that ISPs pay a licence fee for content.

Competition and Investment

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

September 13, 2009 (72 responses)

Several posters argued anti-circumvention measures undermine competition and that copyright laws had to be fairer to individuals. Other posters proposed shortening copyright terms. Several people argued for net neutrality and a more open system.

  • A poster argued that Canada was not falling behind in IP protection and was in fact doing better than many other Western nations. 
  • One poster pointed out that Canada had to establish clear and consistent rules.
  • Another person argued that expanding moral rights would lead to more innovation.

Digital Economy

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

September 13, 2009 (457 responses)

  • One poster urged Canadian copyright policy to embrace the ability to reproduce works in the digital age.
  • One person argued that copyright should better protect artists rather than rights-holders.
  • A poster cautioned the government against a DMCA approach to copyright, arguing that it could make his home theatre illegal.
  • Several artists argued that creators deserved fair compensation.
  • One poster proposed giving tax breaks to artists for their contributions.
  • One person was concerned about the transparency in the ACTA negotiations and the way corporations seemed to dominate the Toronto Town Hall.
  • One person proposed that the government intervene in contracts between distributors and creators in order to ensure that artists receive fair compensation.
  • A poster argued that the “reality” of new media meant that consumers want protection for personal use rights such as format shifting and time shifting.


  1. grunt
    the root of all evil here is the def of property..
    which is changing.
    pity ya didn’t ask for video responses.. current literacey (sic)

    is also different from the traditional views.


  2. Golden Spoon
    [quote] Another poster argued that musicians deserve to be compensated fairly and that it was difficult to make a decent living off live performances.[/quote]

    Hrm. Didn’t think copywrite was supposed to be a guaranteed golden spoon and that people still need to work for a living. If you can’t handle the grind of live performances, you may want to get a more stable profession, like plumbing or electrician.

  3. Working sucks.. Playing music is fun! They should make it so everyone can make a living off just being a musician! 🙂

  4. All this is nothing new
    “There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to the public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.”
    Life-Line by Robert A. Heinlein, 1939