“We Don’t Care What You Do, As Long as the U.S. Is Satisfied”

David Akin has pointed to a new paper from Blayne Haggart, a doctoral student at Carleton who is focusing on copyright policy in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.  The paper, being presented this week in Montreal, includes some interesting analysis of digital copyright reforms in each country.  Given today's introduction of the copyright reform bill, of particular significance are comments Haggart obtained from Michele Austin, who served as Maxime Bernier's chief of staff when he was Industry Minister. 

According to Austin, the decision to introduce U.S.-style DMCA rules in Canada in 2007 was strictly a political decision, the result of pressure from the Prime Minister's Office desire to meet U.S. demands.  She states "the Prime Minister's Office's position was, move quickly, satisfy the United States." When Bernier and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda protested, the PMO replied "we don't care what you do, as long as the U.S. is satisfied."

This mandate will not come as a huge surprise to anyone who has followed the issue, but it still shocks to see it presented in such stark terms.  Given the strong public opposition to the anti-circumvention provisions in C-61, the thousands of Canadians who spoke out against the U.S. approach during the copyright consultation, and even Industry Minister Tony Clement's reported support for a more flexible approach, it would appear that the PMO's decision to side with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore in requiring strict anti-circumvention rules reflects a long-term decision to prioritize U.S. interests on copyright ahead of the national interest.  The decision is particularly discouraging since it is unnecessary – a compromise could be struck that provides legal protection for digital locks, is WIPO compliant, and preserves the copyright balance.

Update: The NDP runs a "reality check" that highlights the Haggart article.


  1. Mike Brock says:

    Was there ever any doubt that kowtowing to the US was the prime motivation for this? I mean, really.

  2. What’s our best course of action?
    This is frustrating, it feels like we’re getting railroaded.

    I’ve sent out letters. I’ve tweeted Moore asking him not to push anti-circumvention through. What else can we do?

    It seems clear to me that anti-circumvention legislation helps the bigger U.S.-based Corporations preserve their customer lock-ins (I’m primarily thinking Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Xbox but they surely aren’t the only examples). I fail to see how that helps Canadian consumers or Canadian-owned businesses in the long run, because it essentially puts us all subject to a sort of Corporate collected U.S. tax (iPhone apps collect 30% for Apple for instance).

    I’ve yet to hear a compelling reason explaining how this is supposed to benefit Canada. Instead it’s just the trickle-down economics argument that when these big American Corporations get to protect their market, we’re all supposed to benefit. How exactly?

  3. B MacEachern says:

    I know that’s a little extreme, but what do you call it when those elected by the people cater to foreign interests and place the demand of lobbyists above those of the people that elected them? And what is this pressure from the US, and in what form??? Will the US have a tantrum if they don’t get their way? Were they threatening the families of the ministers involved? Because, otherwise, I cannot understand the burning need to placate the US. Screw the US. Why are we not putting pressure on *them* to stop being completely ridiculous on copyright, the CTA nonsense, etc? Why are we the ones supposedly over the barrel here?

  4. LaughingCrow says:

    ‘Hollywood North’ eh?

    Harper’s government will get an Oscar for ‘best supporting role’ for selling out to U.S. corporate interests.

  5. Bruce Campbell says:

    The U.S. is Satisfied?
    The idea that even in the PMO they don’t get that “the U.S.” is actually the lobbyists that pressure the US politicians into taking such Status Quo serving positions, regardless of the cost to their own nation’s progress. And of course, just like Eisenhower warned about the Military/Industrial complex, the entertainment business lobby wants this to happen to every other country they have a market in as well.

    Call it RealPolitik, call it treason, call it stupidity—our world is held back by a political system where moral compromise happens early in the career of a politician, invariably putting them into the power of the lobbyist community, or at best, isolated and distracted when the politician actually wants to do what s/he was elected to do—serve their constituents.

  6. No surprise
    Harper has a de facto lock on the country at this point and can easily afford to put things in such stark terms. Who will stand up to him? Canadians have become pathetic compliant kittens. People deserve the government they get, and political apathy along with Tim-Hortons smugness that we’re just perfect has delivered the country to a neo-liberal waking nightmare. What a crap hole this country has become.

  7. Shows?
    So after today will it be illegal to download shows from torrents? Even though i have them on cable and cant watch them when they air cuz of work?

  8. I noted the concern that anti-circumvention provision will trump legalization of format shifting, and time-shifting.

    But is the reverse not also a possibility? That the right to format shift and time-shift trump the anti-circumvention provision?

  9. Bob, in the Tories’ last attempt at a copyright bill, anti-circumvention *explicitly* trumped everything else. Every single exemption in the bill, including format-shifting and time-shifting, was qualified with “…unless the work is protected by a TPM”. It was spelled out in black and white.

  10. Karl (Ponsonby, Auckland, NZ) says:

    New Zealand in the 80’s stood up to the Americans, we banded nuclear *armed* warships from our ports and 25 years later they now support our perspective. There were problems certainly, we lost membership of the ANZUS treaty and intelligence report from the US but we never backed down when we were right.

    The Canadian Prime Minister has failed to exercise the same degree of backbone.

  11. parot like behavior says:

    made in Canada
    I can see the parrots on the hill now
    “Braaawk….made in canada, made in canada…..Braaaawk”

  12. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    Tell People
    How many Canadians haven’t even HEARD about this?

    How much coverage is there on the mainstream media? Are we surprised? If our government is in such abject awe of American media corporate empires, is it any wonder that our media outlets are too?

    Tell people. Canadians have to make NOISE or this will happen.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper may believe he is the king but in fact he is merely the leader of a minority government. This bill can be voted down. This needs BUZZ. Trend it on twitter. Those of us who are aware this is happening must TELL PEOPLE.

  13. @Jason
    “So after today will it be illegal to download shows from torrents? Even though i have them on cable and cant watch them when they air cuz of work?”

    No. This is a bill. As such it does not have the force of law. Only once passed by the House of Commons and Senate, and then receives Royal Proclamation from the Governor General is it a law. This is generally a number of months, and it can be derailed by any number of things, including an election call.

    @Karl: In general, Canadian Prime Ministers, regardless of the party that they belong to, rarely ever exhibit that degree of backbone, in particular if it went against public opinion or possibly endangered the party’s fund-raising activities.

    @Rog: Of course. It may also make it illegal (I suspect) to remove another Root Kit like the one Sony put onto people’s computers if it was used as a TPM. Mind you, it isn’t just the American corporations that have been calling for this. We’ve seen lots of call for far more draconian measures here are well, in addition to expansion of the various tithes, err levies, to compensate IP holders for people being able to own something which could, in theory, be used to “infringe”, as well as a tithe on the transport means.

  14. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    What ever happened to Canada being a sovereign nation?

  15. Anon-k
    thanks for clearing that up anon.

  16. Morris Delectatio says:

    So, when will I be able to bring a legal action against all these electronics stores for selling this equipment that allows others to break the law? Tivo, and VCR, and PVR, and DVR? I cannot wait to outlaw these time shifting and format shifting devices! Long live Stephen Harper!

  17. For shame
    I’m an American, and must say I’m deeply ashamed at how the **AA’s have bought politicians (democrats and republicans alike) to satisfy their whims.

    The anger and resentment is growing. Some day (soon, I hope) they will be destroyed by an angry public.

  18. Anarchist Philanthropist says:

    @B MacEachern

    Actually it’s a combination of treason and Sedition.

    Treason for taking money from another government outside your country to change your laws.

    Sedition for actually doing it.

    To my knowledge , both use to be an executable offense.

  19. mckracken says:

    armchair activism
    What’s our best course of action?
    This is frustrating, it feels like we’re getting railroaded.

    I’ve sent out letters. [b] I’ve tweeted Moore [/b] asking him not to push anti-circumvention through. What else can we do?


    you’ve tweeted him? well, let the sun shine then ;p

    pls don’t get me wrong, simply a poke in your direction regarding the overdone idea of ‘online political action’ via commercial media interests such as facebook, twitter, etc.

    real change requires real action. illusory change results from illusory action.

    i’ve researched the success rate related to online political activism and the substance to vapour ratio is quite low.

    try to imagine online political statements like spam, and realize this is exactly how it’s veiwed as by politicians unless reinforced by physical protest outside of ‘consumer consultations’.

    to be perfectly blunt: does Moore really read those tweets? or emails? or facebook status that says ‘i’m mad at the government’? no, it’s the intern who forwards anything suspicious to the rcmp.

    if you want change, make it happen, don’t play the lottery of ‘if they read it, they will come’.

    interesting captcha: erased reaction. the perfect expression of digital politics.

  20. cndcitizen says:

    Isn’t the supreme court rulling suppost to come up in September on the legality of isohunt as a search indexing site? Maybe they are trying to rush this to prevent the Supreme Court from having to rule.

  21. Abattoir says:

    @jason, downloading torrents of shows is already illegal, whether or not you get them through your cable subscription. This bill doesn’t change anything at all until it receives Royal Assent, but you can rest assured they aren’t going to make that LEGAL.

  22. Don’t forget to add your wallet’s voice to the discussion
    Stop going to the movies. Stop buying digital downloads, DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs. Even those without DRM, as a protest against the co-opting of Canada’s legislators by foreign business. Honestly, do you really need to give your money to these bastards when there is so much legitimately free entertainment to be found on the Internet? And if you really must see those Hollywood blockbusters, at least minimize your support of Hollywood by borrowing from your local library..

    Oh.. and need I add, stop voting for the Tories for God’s sake!

  23. Captain Hook says:

    Yup, Abattoir is right P2P file sharing of tv shows is illegal. But I wouldn’t let that small fact bother you.

    32 million Americans have downloaded movies via P2P in 2008. (Oh that DMCA works so well at stopping piracy doesn’t it whitey!) That is almost 3/4 the population of Canada

    20% of Europeans have used p2p to download just music. That is over 100 million people. I’m sure it would be much higher once TV and movies were factored in too.

    The only thing these zero tolerance laws to is create an air of indifference among people so that they don’t care so much if they break the law, because the law is already broken beyond repair.

    So go ahead and keep downloading. You are in good company.


  24. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    Quietly Making Noise
    Excellent Search Engine podcast

    It’s an excellent way to introduce the subject to people who don’t know this is happening and spread the word about this. For many people listening is easier than reading, and Jesse Brown makes it very accessible.

    As suggested by Michael Geist earlier: WRITE LETTERS

  25. Richard Westgate says:

    I’m with Leroy:
    “Stop going to the movies. Stop buying digital downloads, DVDs, Blu-Rays, CDs. Even those without DRM, as a protest against the co-opting of Canada’s legislators by foreign business.”
    “Oh.. and need I add, stop voting for the Tories for God’s sake!”

    Especially the second point! I say boycott their products, let them earn NO money until they treat consumers fairly. I don’t want stuff free, mind you, but I do want to OWN what I pay for. I already have the original Beatles album (vinyl, if anyone remembers that), tape and CD. I’ve bought them three times as technology changes. Fair enough – but to pay multiple times for our parallel technology gadgets borders on extortion.


  26. On ISPs…
    It seems to me that this law could potentially have some interesting side effects:

    Suppose I send some encrypted data over the Internet to another user. Let’s say, in fact, that the data I send is a piece of IP that I own the copyright to. If my ISP uses deep packet inspection to decrypt the information and examine the IP, can they be charged for breaking the TPM on those packets? If so, what does that mean for users doing encrypted P2P: how can your ISP (or anybody else) determine whether or not a given P2P user is violating copyright, if the act of determining whether this is the case may in and of itself be a violation of the TPM clauses in the legislation?

    On an unrelated note, there’s a certain tragic irony about the Government of Canada attempting to enact legislation restricting the copying of others intellectual property, when clearly the very legislation that they are trying to pass may well be a copy of legislation written by the Americans.

  27. If “Modernization” means…
    If “Modernization” means submitting to US style corporate gang rape, then I’ll stick to the ‘dark ages’ of 2009 thanks.

  28. @ABarlow
    I’m not sure of this legislation as I haven’t read it yet, but it’s my understanding that if we adopt ACTA, this will trump Canadian privacy laws and allow ecryption to be broken. Do we know if this bill will introduce such an exception? Under privacy laws, it is currently illegal in Canada to break on-line encryption.

    @Leroy and Richard Westgate
    It’s too late, boycotting won’t work. The piracy floodgate has been opened, they will now find a way to claim all losses are somehow related to piracy.

    Hasn’t the the US Supreme Court already filed and injunction against ISOhunt?

    I was once told that downloading TV shows is illegal and recording them yourself is not because when you download them, the advertising is already removed.

  29. cndcitizen says:

    @IamMe – IsoHunt

    Yes US court ruled some aspects were to be removed or filtered (not sure the exact thing) but IsoHunt pre-emtively sued the record industry and want the ruling from the courts (in Canada) that indexing does not break Canada’s internet laws. (Similary to what Google does).

  30. Hey Obama?
    Why are you complaining to Canada’s leaders? We’ve already seen how they’re just pushovers. Blame the states. Let them know that we don’t appreciate heavy handed leaders who push their beliefs onto other countries. There’s no difference between this policy, and religion. It affects the way we live, and that’s that.

  31. Chris Brand says:

    The worst part is
    that we know that the US will never be satisfied.

    Every win the “content industries” get just emboldens them to ask for more.
    In the US and through ACTA, for example, they got legal protection for TPMs so now they’re working to get rid of intermediary liability and to introduce “3 strikes”.

    When we’re playing them for every viewing, plus levies, plus the initial “purchase” price, and they’re inspecting all our internet activity and filtering out anything they don’t like, they’ll still be demanding that the levies be increased and extended.

  32. end user says:

    We need a web site to organize a boycott day where people don’t buy any music/ movies or go see any movies especially new releases in theaters. I’ve already started with refusing to see Iron Man 2 and any other new and upcoming movies. It sucks at first but after a while just don’t notice it. I have bought some used new release DVD’s from a pawn shop but hey for 2.99 I can’t go wrong as I get a killer deal and the media company doesn’t get any of MY money.

    Maybe website listing Canadian companies that produce products or content that doesn’t have any DRM built in.

  33. cndcitizen says:

    Used DVD’s
    @end user – likewise, I actually go to Rogers and get their $2.00 bin or wal-mart, I have over a hundred legaly purchased DVD’s now all for less then 5-10 new first release DVD’s. I am old, no need to get the latest fad or see the latest movie…you do it if the movie is really good.

    New rules would make it illegal to burn your movies to a media player (because of digital locks)

  34. Pissed off media networker says:

    I own a large collection of DVDs bought legitimately, and most at full price on the holy Day One of retail, and want to rip them to a media storage network so I can access them from anywhere in the house without having to have the DVDs lying around. Why should that be illegal?

  35. If this law passes.

    Someone start determining all the ways Politicians infringing, and then walk into their offices and homes demand their computers and personal information. I guarantee you’ll find loads of child porn on their computers too while you’re at it.

    1984! You read the book, now live the life! Anyone else notice the CCTV’s silently popping everywhere? Don’t worry if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about! Right?

    LOL Captcha = Fair dealings

  36. George W Obama says:

    Boycott 2012 style
    The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, has been in the pockets of the major American media corporations all his political life and most of the lawyers for the present American government were previously representatives of the MPAA and the RIAA.

    This has been known for a long time now and nobody stopped them so now with ACTA the chickens are coming home to roost and since they have been plotting this scam in secret for years we are virtually helpless to do anything about it, or so they think.

    I’m not sure how we will be able to defeat these monsters of the corporate world or what the final rebellion will look like but I know one thing, there will be a reaction and it’ll involve hundreds of millions of people around the world, maybe billions, using the internet and we will be extremely pissed and not very charitable to the people that perpetrated these crimes against our culture and freedoms.

  37. Mr Savage says:

    well I guess we can kiss democracy goodbye…was nice while it lasted 😛

  38. btrussell says:

    I guess myself and many many others will now be criminals.

    That is all any new law does anyway, create more criminals.

    Look at how many “criminals” they created with the gun registry.

  39. So when they come into your home and take your computer, if everything is encrypted are they not violating this law by looking at your computer? That means simple solution is encrypt your stuff. If that doesn’t work: Does that mean you can turn around and take their computers?

  40. Boycott
    @IAmMe: I think my stance of boycotting everything acually wouldn’t be effective. Maybe boycott every publisher who does not explicitly state (and follow through on) a promise to provide 100% of their content DRM free so that our inevitable new law’s digital lock provision will be irrelevant.

    You make a good point, but let them moan about piracy — the harder they clamp down on our usage options the less we should spend. Failing businesses that aren’t acceptable to consumers will be replaced by businesses that deliver what the consumers want, but only if consumers send a clear and consistent message. (Now that’s naive.. we all know that most Canadians don’t know or care about this issue..)

  41. @mckracken Re: “armchair activism”, “you’ve tweeted him? well, let the sun shine then ;p ”

    Somehow you missed the sentence (even though you quoted it) where I stated I sent letters. Multiple letters. Handwritten, with typed copies.

    After that though, yes I did rely on Twitter for a more direct exchange. I believe that using all avenues of communication is more effective than just one.

    I am frustrated however with the feeling that any feedback, regardless of how it is sent, is likely to be ignored. =/

  42. btrussell says:

    reply to LeRoy

    That won’t work either.

    The government will give the failing business a bail-out.

  43. cobolhacker says:

    nice to see they are looking out for Canadian interests
    “When Bernier and then-Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda protested, the PMO replied ‘we don’t care what you do, as long as the U.S. is satisfied.'”

    Which is exactly why I got a form letter from his office when I wrote to him. He never read it, he didn’t care. He was too busy screwing his biker girlfriend to care.

    For a government that claims to be a democracy, the Canadian government seems to do very little of what the people of Canada want.

  44. Contact your Local MP – Vote ABC
    Everybody is talking like this is already law it hasn’t reached the house floor yet, and then it still has a long process to go before it is made in to Law. If the majority of the opposition votes no then the CONservatives don’t stand a chance at passing it. Everybody start writing your local MP get the word out we need to make more fuss online and out there in the real world beyond our office chairs than we did for the first attempt by the cons to cut down our rights.

    If he Liberals were smart (which they haven’t been lately)they would use this hot topic issue to their advantage and start making headway for the next election.

  45. CaptainCanuck says:

    What else can we do?
    This copyright reform fiasco has gone on long enough: The Canadian government is in the back-pocket of the U.S. government and its lobbyists. We all know this.

    We should take a hint from the our European cousins, and f’ng riot! I’m serious. When European governments piss around citizens riot when they are not being heard. Crowds amass in the streets. Cars are flipped over. Fires are started. The government takes notice and changes its tune.

    I mean the government is mulling over a “3 strikes” law. Canadian citizens should take the politicians up on that in regards to writing copyright reform. How many times has the government attempted, and failed at copyright reform? Is it 2 or 3? Failure is incompetence. Incompetence means you should be out on your ass.

  46. Its all but over
    I guess myself and many many others will now be criminals.

    That is all any new law does anyway, create more criminals.

    Look at how many “criminals” they created with the gun registry.

    Benzo fury