Archive for June 16th, 2010

Canadian Consumer Groups Respond To Moore on C-32

The Canadian Consumer Initiative, which represents major consumer organizations from across Canada including the Consumers Council of Canada, Option consommateurs, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Union des consommateurs, has written to Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore to respond to his comment in the House of Commons asserting that the Chamber of Commerce acts in the best interests of consumers.  The letter notes that the Chamber in no way represents consumer interests and that the CCI is united opposing the digital lock provisions found in C-32.  Full text of the letter below:

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June 16, 2010 14 comments News

The Copyright Lobby’s Astroturf Campaign in Support of C-32

The copyright lobby, almost certainly led by the Canadian Recording Industry Association, has launched a major astroturf campaign in which it hopes to enlist company employees to register their support for Bill C-32 and to criticize articles or comments that take issue with elements of the proposed legislation. The effort, which even includes paid placement of headlines on, is still shrouded in some secrecy.  A member list, which featured many record company executives, has now disappeared from public view.  Requests to identify who is behind the site have been stonewalled thus far, with both ACTRA and AFM Canada explicitly stating they are not part of the site (this is no surprise since most creator groups have been critical of C-32).

The heart of the site (which requires full registration) is a daily action item page that encourages users to "make a difference, everyday."  Today's list of 10 items is a mix of suggested tweets, blog comments, and newspaper article feedback.  Each items includes instructions for what should be done and quick link to the target site.  For example, users are asked to respond on Twitter to re-tweets of an op-ed by Dalhousie law professor Graham Reynolds.  The suggested response is "As an employee in entertainment, this Bill will protect your livelihood" or "The discussion around DRMs is largely fear mongering." Other suggested twitter activity includes twittering in support of James Moore and his comment that the Chamber of Commerce represents the best interests of consumers or to start following MPs on Twitter (in the hope they will follow back and later see astroturfed tweets).

The site also encourages posting comments on a wide range of articles and interviews.  For example, users are encouraged to comment on a Torontoist article on C-32 with the following points:

  • The article completely overstates the expected prevalence of DRMs
  • DRMs have faded quickly from the music industry- why would producers/artists hide their work?
  • There are a whole list of exceptions in the Bill, none of which Michael Geist and his Bit Torrent followers acknowledge

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June 16, 2010 174 comments News

Opening Up Canada’s Digital Economy Strategy

The federal government’s national consultation on a digital economy strategy is now past the half-way mark having generated a somewhat tepid response so far.  My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the consultation document itself may bear some of the blame for lack of buzz since the government asks many of the right questions, but lacks a clear vision of the principles that would define a Canadian digital strategy.

One missed opportunity was to shine the spotlight on the principle of "openness" as a guiding principle. In recent years, an open approach has found increasing favour for a broad range of technology policy issues and has been incorporated into many strategy documents. For example, New Zealand identified "openness is a central principle of [its] Digital Strategy 2.0."

The consultation document includes a brief reference to open access for government-funded research, but it seemingly ignores the broader potential for a strategy with openness policies as a key foundational principle.  

Where might an openness principle make sense?

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June 16, 2010 9 comments Columns

WTO Report on TRIPS Council and ACTA

The World Trade Organization has posted further information on last week's Council meeting where India, China, and other developing countries raised concerns with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.  The report notes the following:

Briefly, China’s and India’s lengthy statements argued that ACTA and other agreements could:

  • Conflict with TRIPS Agreement (a reference to TRIPS Art.1.1) and other WTO agreements, and cause legal uncertainty
  • Undermine the balance of rights, obligations and flexibilities that were carefully negotiated in the various WTO agreements
  • Distort trade or create trade barriers, and disrupt goods in transit or transhipment
  • Undermine flexibilities built into TRIPS (such as for public health, and trade in generic medicines)
  • Undermine governments’ freedom to allocate resources on intellectual property by forcing them to focus on enforcement
  • Set a precedent that would require regional and other agreements to follow suit. (One example cited was negotiations involving CARIFORUM, the group of Caribbean states. However, a delegation representing CARIFORUM said it understood the concerns but denied that CARIFORUM would have to apply ACTA’s provisions.)

They also argued that the focus on enforcement did not take into account a country’s level of development. A number of developing countries broadly supported the concern.

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June 16, 2010 Comments are Disabled News