Copyright Week in Canada: Bill Coming Thursday as Conservatives Indicate Openness to Amendments

This is copyright week in Canada as multiple reports indicate that the long-awaited copyright bill will be tabled on Thursday.  The recent round of reports are noteworthy for several reasons.  First, they confirm earlier reports that the government plans to introduce DMCA-style anti-circumvention legislation.  This suggests that the digital lock provisions that were the source of enormous public outrage (and the dominant issue during last summer's copyright consultation) will remain largely unchanged from Bill C-61 and will unquestionably be the most hotly debated aspect of the bill.

Second, the reports also drop hints of other aspects of the bill.  While I previously reported there will be no flexible fair dealing provision, the reports indicate that there will some changes to fair dealing.  This comes as little surprise, given that C-61 included provisions on time shifting and format shifting.

Third, the government is increasingly turning its attention to what comes after the bill is introduced.  The Canadian Press reports that the government is planning to pressure the opposition parties to hold summer hearings in an effort to fast-track the bill through the House of Commons.   While this raises concern for many groups who may face challenges participating in summer hearings (and the hearings themselves risk becoming abbreviated as MPs cut the process short to get back to their constituencies), Industry Minister Tony Clement has also indicated that the government is open to compromise:

“I’m not coming down from the mountain with this chiselled in stone. This bill may have elements in it where we could seek some consensus and there could be some positive amendments to this bill. That’s certainly in the realm of possibility too, and let the process begin."

These comments make it absolutely crucial for Canadians to take stock of the bill once introduced and to ensure that their voices are heard.  As I argued in my recent Hill Times piece, there is room for compromise on anti-circumvention legislation in the form of a provision confirming that circumvention of a digital lock is not prohibited when undertaken for lawful purposes.  This would be consistent with the WIPO Internet treaties and a previous Canadian bill (Bill C-60).


  1. We know how well they listen.
    So how will it feel to one day being a dude looking for new music to becoming practically a cyberterrorist at the stroke of a pen?

    Captcha: circles doable (how apropriate for this govt. on this bill)

  2. I trust the opposition will be responsible for the “positive amendments” otherwise our digital economy is toast.

    captcha: Political playoff

  3. hemoroid basur ilacı says:
    really nice sharing thanks

  4. “positive amendments”?
    Tony Clements says there “could be positive amendments”. Does that mean he is already admitting the new bill is flawed?

  5. Mark Horseman says:

    This won’t pass, again
    This is what will happen. 1st reading on Thursday, commons break for the summer, election in the fall and this beast dies on the order paper again.

  6. IIRC, one of the hugest problems with C61 in particular was that the bill literally gave with one hand and took away with the other… explicitly granting fair dealing and and format shifting rights to consumers, but at the same time completely disallowing any such activity whenever the copyright holder had placed any sort of digital protections on the work (which, as analog technologies such as VCR’s and tape recorders become obsolete, is only going to become increasingly common), and the copyright holder had not granted any sort of permission to the consumer to copy it for said purposes (and why would they, when they can charge the consumer more money for each format the consumer wants to put it in, and have practically a legal guarantee that the consumer will be compelled to keep paying them repeatedly for the exact same work) The bill is blatantly a corporation-serving one, and will inevitably result in widespread private disregard of copyright law, not merely out of any sort of sense of justice that consumers have, but because private copying is something that *IS* a reasonable expectation on the part of consumers (in fact, if it were not, why was the audio and sound recording private use exemption to infringement part of the copyright act for so long?)

  7. I thought Clement has already been overruled. What is he doing trying to give assurances when he can’t even get his own “positive ammendments” looked at?

  8. I don’t understand why amendments would be necessary considering if the bill was drawn up properly, the voices of the Canadian people would have been respected. From the looks of it the Government is expecting wide spread public opposition to this bill. Public opposition wouldn’t take place if they had listened to and respected the consultation process. I guess we’re about to see how much of the consultation made it into the bill, and whether the consultation was a waste of tax payers time and money.

  9. Clement? Moore?
    I also was under the impression that the work Clement did, with the Copyright Consultation, was disregarded in favour of the DMCA that was drafted up for Moore by the American media cartel. Did I miss a flip-flop somewhere along the line?

  10. RE: This won’t pass, again
    It will pass this time. There is too much international and corporate pressure and Harper is nothing more than Obama’s whipping boy. To that end, there are good reasons it’s getting introduced now. Most university students are done for the year and won’t easily be contacted en-mass by their respective student unions, nor will it be easy to organize large student protests after the end of the school year. On top of that, they don’t normally push such invasive legislation through over the summer, so as the article says, there will be pressure to get it by the MPs and through the house quickly. This raises concerns that the relevant public bodies …Public consultation…I don’t need to stinkin’ public consultation… and oposition parties will not have adequite time to effectively analyse and respond to the bill. All in all, the entire process reaks of back-room corporate dealing with the full intention of screwing the consumer. If this bill of idiocity get passed in all it’s glory, push back, show them that Canadians value their rights and don’t purchase any DRM-locked media.

  11. RE: IamME
    “don’t purchase any DRM-locked media. ”

    Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the copyright zealots would contiune blame any sales decrease on growing “piracy” rather than admit the truth. Sure, they would probably collaspse under the weight of their own greed, stupidity, and single-mindedness, but the period before the collapse would be unnessessary hell for citizens.

  12. Mike Doherty says:

    Text of the bill?
    Mr. Clement asks us to “read the bill, and they can make up their own minds.” — I’d be only too happy. Where can I get the text?

  13. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    I don’t need
    @Mike I second that.

    @the government
    I don’t believe you have the right to tell me what i can or Can’t do as a citizen of this country IN the privacy of my own home. And I swear any law that comes into play that violates my RIGHT to unreasonable search and seizure, and my RIGHT to protect my home will find just how hard it is to get into my house without a warrant.

    Also to continue I have the right to protect my RIGHTS and i’m damn well going to!

  14. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    “Conservatives Indicate Openness to Amendments”

    I believe that as far as I can flush Moore

  15. RE: This won’t pass, again
    That’s what I would’ve thought a couple of months ago, but the fact is that the Liberals are in no shape to force an election right now. The only way I see us going to the polls this year is if Harper calls another snap election in an attempt to win a majority.

  16. Jack Robinson says:

    Dog Daze o’ Summer and Mindfog Mendacity
    Given the brain-frying temps not-so-cool nor clued-in Canucks are fleeing any way their credit cards will give temporary ostrich refief… this latest attempt by the entrenched New Rome Regime to potentially criminalize citizens for anarchistically archiving, re-formatting or sharing Con Glom-owned media is almost certainly a slam-dunk.

    And the Bon Cop/Bad Cop antics of Clement and Moore are nothing more than a straw dog and phony pony show designed to distract the Circus Minimus from it’s actual agenda… A mechanism for criminalizing any citizen that the Harper Hegemony considers a threat.

  17. Jabrwock says:

    Digital locks trump all
    The whole reform is a sham until digital locks are dealt with. All they’re doing is encouraging companies to slap digital locks on EVERYTHING.

    This happens already in the US. Digital locks, no matter how pathetic and ineffectual (the equivalent to locking your car door with a piece of scotch tape), still count as “protection”, and so even if the locks can be picked by a 4-year old, it is a criminal act to do so.

    Look at how the “diagnostic” equipment and car companies war over this. The car companies slap a mild “encryption” on their information, and then now it’s illegal for 3rd party manufacturers of diagnostic readers to “read” the info off the car’s computer. Doesn’t matter if it takes a 4-year-old with a crayon about 10 seconds to undo the encryption, it’s still digitally locked.

  18. Wow
    Just imagine how much trouble could be saved and how much sanity and logic would be used if they just let the only MP who really understands this be in charge.

    Oh wait, heaven forbid the Cons work with an NDPr.

  19. cndcitizen says:

    UK Did this also during the elevtion Washup
    UK didn’t want to really look into it so they introduced the new 3-strikes bill just before they were up for election. Less then half the people showed up to discuss it even though there was a huge groups of people protesting it. The Con men in government are trying to pull a fast one again…they table it just like I said after all students and intellectuals are away on vaction and hope that no one cares about this…”oh cool we can record TV shows now” carrot and then beat you with a stick because “you can’t record from a digital subscription” type lock thing.

    Again, start your messages to your friends and family to contact their MP’s.

  20. Crockett says:

    Not a pesky college age voter
    I know running this vote over the summer is meant to avoid those pesky college age “kids” and their crazy free-loadin’ activism. I on the other hand am a 40+ white Anglo Saxon male who will be watching and voting on the outcome of this legislation. If any politicians read this blog, let it be known there are more than just a few kids gonna hold you responsible for your actions. Do not sell us out to Hollywood or their money laundered friends on capitol hill.

  21. @Anarchist Philanthropist

    Don’t worry, they won’t come into your home. They actually don’t care about the private copying that occurs, in spite of the fact that it will be illegal.

    However, if one happens to engage in activity that they care about and would like to stop, whether or not this other activity happens to be illegal, (perhaps criticisms of new policies, or any peaceful protest), if they can somehow find out that the person happens to have also broken the law in their own home, they will almost certainly use that information to try to shut down people that happen to annoy them.

    The implications of a law that is actually acceptable to break as long as you don’t get caught doing something that the government doesn’t like are rather disturbing, if you ask me.

  22. Students
    @Ianme: “Most university students are done for the year and won’t easily be contacted en-mass by their respective student unions, nor will it be easy to organize large student protests after the end of the school year.”

    Student unions? Is that a new Facebook feature? Seriously, though… all this takes is students posting this on Facebook and all the students will hear about it within hours. Distributing news through student unions is so 15 years ago.

    (captcha: dickiest precancerous)

  23. Baloney over the summer is still baloney
    It’s funny how they like to waste Canadians’ time and patience with schemes like these. They create retarded bills after retarded bills, even after knowing our stance, just to establish an “open to compromise” process baloney. The compromise process is spectacularly convenient during the summer, where people’s atttention and priorities are away from the issue, let alone focus the compromise. When the compromise process is over and hardly anyone shows up, they’ll gloat “Too Late, Too Bad!”

    My compromise was in last year’s Copyright Consultation. If the government didn’t read it, or fail at reading, that’s not my problem. Can we all just say the time for compromise is over? Is there really any compromise after their C-61, their ignoring the Copyright Consultation, and soon their yet-another-retarded-copyright-bill?

    If Moore and Clement want to implement their DMCA and ACTA agenda, then please do so. Who am I to compromise with you, almighty ministers? Don’t give me any more of these compromise processes baloney (kind of like your SPEND-And-save taxcut economics, or saving coupons in a taxcut disguise.) It’s obviously clear you don’t work for Canadians anyway. The joke here is only you think you’re working for Canadians, when nobody else does.


  24. digital locks = rental?
    could someone please explain how drm differs from rental? I mean other than “paying” to own something, but getting it with a “lock” on it so person I bought it from can take it back from me?

  25. joel cairo says:

    boycott the large ‘entertainment’ and publishing companies. this bill is about censorship of opinion. Mark is disturbed, he should be afraid, very afraid.

  26. W Garland says:

    Now we know why Mr. Harper is closing all the prison farms — he needs the land to build super jails, to house all the pot smokers and 12-year old girls taping songs off the radio.

    I’m surprised this didn’t make it into the budget.

  27. Not this S**t again.
    How many times do we have to tell our “public servants” something before they actually do what the citizens want?

    Never mind, I know the answer. They don’t really work for us, but for the boardrooms of the world.

    So where is the most effective forum to say my piece and lend my voice?
    Contact media?
    Contact politicians?
    Online discussions?

  28. Not this S**t again.
    How many times do we have to tell our “public servants” something before they actually do what the citizens want?

    Never mind, I know the answer. They don’t really work for us, but for the boardrooms of the world.

    So where is the most effective forum to say my piece and lend my voice?
    Contact media?
    Contact politicians?
    Online discussions?

  29. Just another view of the problem…
    What is often forgotten is the low income family who only has a finite budget to buy entertainment for their children. As we know, children can be destructive and this often leads to scratches on the media containing the purchased entertainment.

    Many parents make back-up copies to counteract this eventuality; making this practice illegal will not stop people from doing it; it will place already financially disadvantaged Canadians at the mercy of monopolistic companies who use flashy advertising to lure society into ‘needing’ their products to feel better, then hit them with unfair prices. This capitalistic sickness is great if you are the ones owning everything and making all the money. These companies will then be more empowered by the law to sue or criminalize the very people who have no money, and few job prospects as it is.

    1) Selling or profiting from illegal copies should be the focus of the law.
    2) Don’t punish poor people for backing up entertainment they purchase.
    3) Do not let companies dictate how we can use our legally purchased entertainment by allowing them to place legally protected locks on everything. If we buy a CD and want to encode it for a mobile device, or if we buy a DVD and need to back it up in case it gets damaged, then this should be legal. Is the recording company going to send us another copy (for the cost of a blank disc) every time the media becomes scratched? No they expect us to go buy another one.

    Why is it not enough for a company to make a reasonable profit?

    $20 for a .01 cent piece of plastic, they could sell movies and music for $5 and make reasonable profit. That price would make questionable copyright infringement obsolete. They want to make more and more every year, that’s the bottom line here.

    Why not make a ‘reasonable profit’ law. Why not curb the banking/credit ‘usury’ so rampant in this society? People everywhere are sick of spending their lives working to make a handful of executives filthy rich.

  30. RE: Just another view of the problem…
    What is reasonable profit?

    Now with digital…

    **If the priduction companies got off there ass and did a bit of research, there is the potential to cut out middle-man distributors (iTunes, NetFlix, Napster, etc.) and their related costs.

    **The cost of actual “manufacturing” is pretty much zero since there is no physical product and no packaging.

    **Discounting the cost of the computer hardware for servers and whatnot (Which is nothing when compared to manufacturing plants) there is very little cost for deliverly.

    **There is no “brick-and-mortor” store, so no space rental fees, no property tax and no sales staff to pay there.

    So WHY do legally downloaded movies cost as much, and sometimes more, than the physical copy. Simple economics tells you it should be substantially cheaper. I went to Walmart the week before last and bought a bunch of BluRay disks from a bargain bin for $7.50 each. They won’t be selling at a loss, if fact, they’ll still be making money, so that’ll tell you just how much markup there is on that $40 BluRay copy of Alice in Wonderland. At any more than around the $10 range, which I still consider high for the “right” to download a file, why would I download it when I can wait 6 months or a year and get a real copy for $10, or less.

  31. Balance
    Here is the thought. Whether after this bill is passed that the piracy come banging at your door or not remains to be seen. What needs to be done is the Canadian “Companies” who host all this material needs to be shut down.
    There is no sense in coming after the little guy who downloads the tunes, or games because, either he is too broke to buy them, or lives out in the middle of nowhere, and the products he is getting arnt available.
    However, if the companies that host this material are shut down, and fined big time…then that would cut down on supply. The demand will always be there, they only thing that can be largly affected is the supply

  32. Unacceptable without strong consumer provision
    This seems to get lost in the shuffle all to often: COPYRIGHT IS INTENDED TO BENEFIT THE PUBLIC WITH MORE CREATIVE WORKS AVAILABLE TO THEM. If copyright law actually decreases the ability of Canadians to enjoy art, is is not serving its purpose, and should be changed.

    Any Copyright Amendment that actually seeks to preserve that purpose *MUST* at a minimum include the following:
    1) Provision for lawful circumvention
    2) Extended fair dealing to protect free speech, research/education, review, parody etc (it is important to note this list should be indicative of exceptions, not exhaustive)
    3) Severe limitations on punitive damages for infringement for personal consumption

    Any bill that does NOT provide for such is pure pandering to giant copyright hoarding firms (typically Hollywood, US record labels etc) and do NOT serve to advance art for the Canadian public.

    We have to make it clear that this will not be tolerated. It is not our responsibility to preserve the failing business models of American copyright firms. We seek only to help the Canadian public.