Balanced Copyright for Canada Details Begin to Emerge

TVO's Search Engine examines the Balanced Copyright for Canada site in this week's podcast.  The podcast discusses some of Jesse Brown's concerns with the site. Meanwhile, Simon Doyle posts the names of some of the members of the site including many record company executives and their advisors.  Doyle's post includes an update in which the site identifies two of its advisory members – Stephen Stohn (former law partner of CRIA's Graham Henderson, co-author of an op-ed on copyright reform last year with CRIA lawyer Barry Sookman) and Loreena McKennitt (well known musician who is a former client of Henderson's and appeared alongside him at a Canadian Heritage committee hearing in April). 

I should note that I don't think there is anything wrong with Stohn or McKennitt serving on their board – they're both passionate about copyright issues – nor with the existence of a site advocating positions such as those on the Balanced Copyright site.  I encourage everyone to speak out on Bill C-32, regardless of their position. My concerns with the site are that it still has not disclosed who is behind it (although I remain convinced it is CRIA and its members), that it engages in astroturfing activities on media articles and blog posts, that it has actively removed users it suspects of opposing its views without warning, and that its letter writing campaign blocks the ability for users to customize their comments to reflect their own views (which is particularly striking given the earlier criticisms from some its members about the CCER form letter website that gave users full editorial control). If I was a member of the advisory board, I'd advise the site to make some changes.


  1. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    Opposition of the bill
    Where can we go to get the bill stopped completely?

    I think, until IT people like myself and legal people like you Mr.Geist can sit down and create something that makes everyone happy. But leaving it in the hands of a 60 some year old heritage minister, who may or may not have any computer expertise is a mistake, esp when the bill favors companies over consumers, is a major mistake.

  2. First post already off base
    Anarchist Philanthropist – Umm, the heritage minster is age 34.
    Do Geist supporters even think before posting?

  3. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    I stand corrected, least on his age, but the bill he wrote is still designed for companies not consumers and it needs to be written by Canadians for Canadians, not in a way that is pretty much back handing consumers.

  4. “Do Geist supporters even think before posting? ”
    Do you mean those who know about Geist specifically, or just anyone who doesn’t like the U.S.’s ideas for copyright (or whatever you call this new digital access restriction plan, much of which isn’t really about copying at all)?
    I would suspect judging only from the sheer amount of people in Canada, even if you only count those moved and vocal enough to speak out in the consultation, at least a few wouldn’t think before posting.

    It’s hard to generalize most the electorate based on a few posts on a blog 🙂

  5. Maniac said:
    First post already off base
    Anarchist Philanthropist – Umm, the heritage minster is age 34.

    His age actually is irrelevant.. He has proven himself beyond unworthy of the position he is in and should be removed immediately.

  6. Abattoir
    That’s right, paint all on this side of the debate with a single brush. We’re all exactly the same, right? None of us have any idea.

  7. Well they are certainly learning with respect to how to communicate online. Now only if they could put that knowledge into representing talent in the industry and digitally artists would be better off. McKennitt still has yet to change her labels site which look like something from Web 1.0. Why anyone would listen to McKennitt when she can’t even demonstrate to the industry she can represent anything past Web 1.0. is beyond me, but I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion on this matter. I just think the members of Balanced Copyright for Canada need to fully disclose to it’s members and publicly their position on the 3 strikes law. Most I’ve spoken with in industry who are signed with the CRIA member labels don’t agree to this approach.

    That should be clearly spelled out in the form letters, or those in industry can look forward to yet more disagreeable points being put to their names.

  8. Maniac attack
    Just remember that ad hominem attacks are generally only used when real supporting evidence cannot be found. The technical savvy of both the industry and heritage ministers is rather suspect, and the bill that they’ve crafted sides far more strongly with the CRIA and the recording industries than the Canadian public indicated it wanted from the public consultation. All three opposition parties have indicated that they have strong reservations regarding bill C-32, and with the TPM provisions in particular. However, the heritage minister has actually tried to say that consumers want TPMs…according to an industry lobby group.

  9. Maupassant says:

    Abattoir: “None of us have any idea.”

    Interesting coincidence. That’s what @mpjamesmoore said. Allow me to attempt to complete that sentence “… how much pressure we’re under from the U.S.”

  10. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    “… how much pressure we’re under from the U.S.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

  11. Anarchist Philanthropist said:

    “… how much pressure we’re under from the U.S.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

    Indeed…. my comment to the US for this one:

  12. time to display IPS of posters
    I think it is time to start displaying IPs next to the poster’s name. So we can spot shills a mile away.

  13. Trademark Infringement?
    Shouldn’t Fair Copyright Canada be able to sue for Trademark infringement? After all, using such a similar name and postulating such an opposing agenda is bound to confuse people, no?

  14. @Greg
    No disrespect, but what does “the technical savvy of both the industry and heritage ministers” have to do with it? Generally cabinet ministers have little experience with the issues involved in their post; for instance the ONLY Minister of National Defence that I remember as having served is Gordon O’Connor (retired Brigadier General). And he was a poor MND. Remember, Ministers are generally chosen from the list of MPs (although there was an aberration to this with Harper nominating someone to the Senate so they could be a minister), unlike in the US, so if the government is lucky they actually get someone elected that understands the portfolio. Even more lucky if the person has the political chops and the political acumen to do the job.

  15. Loreena McKennitt says:

    Thanks Jason K . for your keen observations. I can’t fault you for not being aware that our QR site has visitors from around the world, many restricted by narrowband internet, dated browsers and hardware. For them, a technology- and graphics-intensive site would make visiting very difficult.

    As for Mr. Geist’s comments, I appreciate your mention. It is my belief that this discussion and debate has been regrettably quite unbalanced over the years and that sites such as will go some way to address this imbalance. Like Jason, if you don’t have a living and working acquaintance with the business side of an industry, one can appreciate how individuals may not have a full appreciation of the situation, only an academic one.

    I should also point out that I am not a board member of the BCFC site but rather an individual artist who has seen the site, welcomes it and shares certain copyright reform concerns with the major record companies.

    Since you have mentioned me, no doubt you will be aware that I have been operating as an independent artist and business person for over twenty-five years. I do find the manner of your inference of myself, Stephen Stohn or anyone else having a historical connection with Mr. Henderson disappointing as if that should, in some way, disqualify our present opinions or positions. As anyone who has actually spoken with me can attest, and as Sheila Copps once famously said, “I am nobody’s baby.”

    I encourage you to abandon your ill-informed efforts to discredit other voices from being considered.

  16. Michael Geist says:

    Ms. McKennitt,

    I did no such thing. The post clearly states that I don’t think there is anything wrong with you serving on the board (the suggestion that you are on the advisory board came from the site itself, not me) and that you are passionate about these issues. I also welcome all views on copyright. The reference to Henderson is not to suggest that you are not disqualified (I say the opposite), but rather a reference to the still undisclosed backers of the site.


  17. @Loreena McKennitt
    “Thanks Jason K . for your keen observations. I can’t fault you for not being aware that our QR site has visitors from around the world, many restricted by narrowband internet, dated browsers and hardware.”

    As someone who is involved in E-Business and an expert in that field, that’s more of an excuse, and shows a lack of technical background now needed in industry to compete and showcase the talent you represent. You can develop a lot more sophisticated sites now that cater to all types of visitors, browsers and hardeware that will show case the talent and your label a hell of a lot better than what’s posted up there now.

    “Like Jason, if you don’t have a living and working acquaintance with the business side of an industry”..

    On the contrary, I have many friends who own successful indie labels now, and to be quite frank, I don’t think you have demonstrated the change in roll that labels are now faced with on the business side of this industry. In fact I have read several interviews that your business is failing, but rather do the market research needed to learn to adapt to what’s demanded in industry now with respect to representing talent, you take a more simplistic approach in blaming this failure on consumers and the market you serve. That’s not a good business policy, and poorly represents the talent signed on with you and looking for proper representation on the business end. I feel more sorry for them than I do for you. That’s an injustice.

  18. @Loreena McKennitt
    The traditional role of the label has changed, and encompasses a wide area of industry now, which includes an understanding of digital imaging and promotions on several fronts and in social media. For the sake of the talent you represent Ms. McKennitt, I would start to get on top of that now, if you plan on remaining competitive in the very near future. I’m only telling you this because I’m getting very sick at label’s like yours not moving forward in 12 years with needed changes to business models that will result in more income for talent, and spark much needed innovation.

    Aligning yourself with those who are seeking an unbalanced approach to cutting users off of the digital marketplace, rather than seeking our opportunities for investment and change, will only serve to bring that business down even further at a time when major success stories of adapting around the consumer and market are starting to emerge from a newly minted industry.

    I would highly recommend a course in multi-media, and design. You’re going to need it very soon. I applaud your efforts on doing what you think is right in this copyright debate, but law is a very small part of the business side of the industry, and you look to be quite far behind the rest of the pack.

  19. @Loreena McKennitt
    Don’t take my word for it. Someone who actually understands the business side especially in indie:

  20. @Loreena McKennitt
    An indie label that has adapted widely into other area’s of the industry quite successfully:

    Using a wide range of multi-media presentations, also selling out crowds everywhere around the world on concerts and events. Also providing live streaming of concerts on the web, via artists sites, which can incorporate embeddable ads, and subscription models in the future.

    This label is also very active with their own podcasts showcasing their talent, simulcasting all over the world both in traditional radio, and online. Online radio broadcasts require a broadcast license fee.

    There are tons of area’s in exploration this part of the industry is doing, and being successful at globally that’s opening up new income for creative talent. Quinlan road barely scratches the surface, and is relying on the major labels for exposure, when that exposure can be met independently if they understood the role they are now faced with.

  21. @Loreena McKennitt
    My last and final point on this. I used to live in Hamilton, and as Sheila Copps found out, you can be in what ever business you are in for a number of years, and fail hard if you don’t know how to play the game properly and are up on your toes.

    The game in the music industry has changed, and the expectations of talent with respect to representation has as well, and will continue to. Many of them are now looking at the past 12 years, along with strict reforms globally and are not seeing any change. Many are starting to question why, and many of them are starting to get informed. Many of them don’t see cutting people off the internet as a viable solution. Many of them will be pissed off if that happens, and many of them will start to distance themselves from people who have 25 years experience in industry yet refuse to offer the promotions and management many have to pay out of pocket for!

    I wish Quinlan Road and you Ms. McKennitt all the best.

  22. Loreena McKennitt says:

    Mr Geist. Thank you for your clarification.

    And thank you for your concern Jason.

    1. With respect to your comment regarding my company failing, you may want to go back to your fact checkers on that. Happily, I can say we generate more revenue that our expenses and still I do what I love. I don’t call that failure. However, we have seen a significant enough erosion of revenue during this period of unprotected copyright involving piracy and stealing which is consistent with the industry as a whole and not simply people moving on from my music, which I am sure some have.

    2. Having friends or ‘knowing” someone who ‘says’ they have a long term viable business model is different than running one for 5-10or 25 years and knowing it works. I hope things work out for the Indies you know.

    3. No matter how lacking you think our site is, ( and I agree there is room for improvement) we continue to have a considerable number of people visit it and join our QR Community with whom we stay in touch with respect to new recordings, performances etc . Some are happy and comfortable in purchasing their music online. Most are not and prefer CDs. They seek a different kind of experience than what you are advocating. Because of the collapse of the industry, not only are many creators, and the vast eco –system of providers stranded, so are millions of consumers and no manner of ridicule will change that.

    4.And this will be my last comment as well. I haven’t stayed in business as well as have a career this long if I didn’t know what I was doing to some degree. This success has come from adopting a business model which involves investing in and producing something of high quality and good value and providing strong customer service. And the only things we give away are to charity.

    5.Thank you for your interest and concern and all the best to you too. Please don’t hesitate to contact us outside the forum of this blog if you wish.

  23. @Loreena McKennitt
    “2. Having friends or ‘knowing” someone who ‘says’ they have a long term viable business model is different than running one for 5-10or 25 years and knowing it works.”

    I’m a consultant in industry Ms. McKennitt, I’ve helped set up workable and viable business models for those in media around the market, including labels. The worst thing you can do is assume, and there are a lot of assumptions you have made with respect to what’s happening in the market, rather than decisions based on economic data and fact.

    “Some are happy and comfortable in purchasing their music online. Most are not and prefer CDs. They seek a different kind of experience than what you are advocating.”

    Over 1 million of the new Iphones were sold yesterday alone, and market data doesn’t support your claim, unless you’re targeting poor villages in Africa.

    “This success has come from adopting a business model which involves investing in and producing something of high quality and good value and providing strong customer service. And the only things we give away are to charity.”

    There are a number of business models and value chains available that are proven, and do not require kicking people off the Internet like you have been advocating. QR is still very far behind the pack, and becoming quickly becoming uncompetitive. You have made a lot of assumptions on the market, that even an elementary level marketing employee could see past, when looking at the market data globally, and locally around the world.

    Law can only do so much for those that remain uncompetitive due to market assumptions, rather than fact. I strongly suggest you take sometime and review the market you are now faced with, rather than blaming failure on the backs of consumers, and the market you sell too. I know of no business model that has been successful that attacks the consumer and market when they start failing. Most do market research, and adapt to consumer and market needs. The choice you make in the next year or so as a business person on QR with respect to the market, will determine if you remain in business.

    “This success has come from adopting a business model which involves investing in and producing something of high quality and good value and providing strong customer service”

    I don’t think you know what customer service is yet, from the way you are advocating and the stance you have taken on consumers. BTW the price of producing something that is high quality and good value is a lot lower than it was a few years ago due to technological changes. I used to be an audio engineer.

  24. @Loreena McKennitt
    I don’t know if you are still coming here to read replies but I really hope you are because you need to read this.

    I have to say, as a long time fan of yours, I am a bit side swiped by the news that you are aligned with those bringing this legislation to Canada. You are practically leading the dogs to our door with American-style copyright legislation. Canadians have already demonstrated that this is not the kind of copyright law that they want enacted, but you, along with the business side, are turning a blind eye to that. I frankly don’t care about your profit losses if it means that internet providers can be subpoenaed to hand over my personal information and internet activities; nor am I interested in your shrinking business so long as media that I as a consumer purchased fairly (including all of your albums) can no longer be swapped to my different devices. You are essentially willing to trade my consumer freedoms so that you can make a few more bucks.

    I will no longer be buying your albums or attending your concerts. In fact, whenever your name comes up in a conversation with friends, I will let them know that you are one of the goons behind this kind of draconian law coming to Canada. I believe in an artist’s right to survive, but I don’t believe that your right should override my rights.

    Adapt to the modern world or get out. I am no longer a fan of yours.

  25. crucialwax says:

    @Loreena McKennitt

    Looks like I’m disappointed too. While I couldn’t find remarks from you regarding breaking of digital locks, or whether you agree with the notion it’s OK to block someone’s use of the internet for life, I did find something equally disturbing, and speaks to the core the issue.

    From your website (

    “Once we dispel the notion that people own the music in a CD or a download rather than the reality that they have purchased a ‘license to listen’ then we can cease worrying about how to balance these needs. ”

    Wow. You truly believe I should only have the right to listen to your CD. That music is somehow different from all the other products we purchase. I do not buy a ‘license to read’ a book. It’s mine. I can give away, or even sell that book. Maybe I want to scan that book, and put it through an OCR program to convert it to text (hi google), and then a speech to text program read it out loud to someone without sight. It’s my book. I’m going to do these things with it. And guess what? I’m going to treat my CDs the same way. I’m going to treat my CDs like they are actually mine, that I own them. I’m going to rip them and put them into my ipod to listen while I commute. Everything else I buy is mine, and I will treat CDs no differently. Stop treating me like a criminal.