Among Bill C-32’s objectives is to put the pirate download and file-sharing sites out of business. But the provisions of the Bill that permit user-generated content and transferring digital files to other formats would in fact, keep the pirate flag flying and their sites in business.
Ellson’s comments are consistent with adage that when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In this case, when piracy is your only frame of reference for copyright reform, everything looks like piracy. Ellson makes an incredible leap in claiming that consumers that format shift are somehow engaged in piracy or supporting sites that promote piracy. Format shifting involves nothing more than allowing consumers who have already purchased products to shift the content from one format to another – ie. move songs from a CD to an iPod. The new provision includes numerous limitations – the original cannot be an infringing copy or it must be legally obtained, the individual cannot give away the copy, and it must be used for private purposes (unfortunately, the provision is also subject to the presence of digital locks). Even the BCFC recognized the reasonableness of format shifting as an early form letter designed for consumers stated “If Bill C-32 passes, it will give me the peace of mind of knowing that when I take music I’ve purchased and downloaded online, and copy it to my player, it’s legal.” Given these restrictions and background, how can the lead representative of Canadian Council of Music Industry Association now argue that this promotes piracy?
Similarly, the user generated content provision allows Canadians to make non-commercial new works that incorporate other copyrighted works. This provision – dubbed by many as the YouTube provision for supporting popular online mashups – has nothing to do with piracy. It is remarkable to find the chair of a leading industry association now claiming that these provisions support websites that promote piracy. In fact, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore had a better description for these kinds of claims – radically extreme.