The Copyright Pressure Points: What Next for Canadian Copyright

The government delivered its Speech from the Throne on Friday, which included a commitment to “introduce and seek swift passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users.” This should come as no surprise – as I posted last month, the reintroduction of Bill C-32 is by far the likeliest course of action given that it is precisely what the Conservatives promised in their platform.

During the recent Mesh Conference in Toronto, I led a session on the future of copyright reform in Canada that started with the prediction that C-32 is coming back, but focused chiefly on the three pressure points that have influenced Canadian copyright reform in recent years: trade pressures, narrative pressures, and social media pressure. I have posted the slides and audio from that talk and embedded the video below.


  1. Crockett says:

    Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
    Our new government has choices to make, ones that must take into account current pressures as well as setting the foundations for our future.

    And therein lies the conundrum.

    The current ruling government party is in a new position, for the first time in it’s history it can theoretically do what it wants. The ‘my way or the highway’ approach while tempting will not cement what I think is Harper’s long term goal of becoming the new ‘natural governing party’.

    The recent throne speech and budget seems to be pointing to the more pragmatic approach, so I hope this will continue into the areas of digital issues and governance. The government has pledged to reintroduce Bill C-32, with no mention of any modifications. While they are free to do this, it will be a missed opportunity to adjust to the substantive input from many of the stakeholders who recently presented to committee as well as the huge public consultation from the previous year.

    Of course ideology will play a big part, it is no secret that this government is big on trade issues, especially with the USA. It is even less of a secret that what the US views as proper IP protection is very high on their Canadian ‘honeydew’ list. To receive any concessions that Harper is desiring it is likely he will have to cave on progressive copyright reform. This is obviously not what I, nor those concerned with Canada’s digital competitiveness, want to see but is most likely the reality we face.

    By submitting to the US wishes we may get some perks on other trade issues, but will be trading away a unique opportunity to lay a foundation for the increasingly important digital economy of the future. It would be a bold move on the part of the Conservatives to instead take the high road and work towards improving our place in the future rather than short term gains for today. For a party that wants to become the governing force in this country we need vision coupled with determination rather than capitulation.

  2. Ya…Right
    Harper is going to bend Canada over, figuratively, and let the US have it’s way with us. Nothing “progressive” will happen until we’re so far behind the rest of the world that we become even less competitive than we are today. In really, I think a lot of it stems to the fact that the Americans simply can’t stand the fact the Canada has surpassed them in economic stability. But we should be diversifying since we rely far to heavily on fossil fuels to drive our economy. At the same time our governments have been letting the development of other sectors, such as Internet architecture and the on-line marketplace, fall by the wayside.

    Perhaps they should change the party name to the “Regressive Conservatives” or even the “Oppressive Conservatives”. There surely is little “progressive” about them these days. We’ll have to wait and see the fallout of some of these bills to be sure.

  3. Memory card tax
    remember the ipodtax the Cons where clamoring was an idea from the opposition.
    Well, there is the memory card tax. Who will pay the music industry? Photographers. Just about everyone with a digital camera. Yes. You read it right.

    That’s part of Copyright future.

  4. There is not a single Canadian who will not, assuming they even know about them, conclude for themselves that the prohibitions in C32 on circumventing digital locks are unreasonable when it comes to doing things with media that they have lawfully purchased and just happen to want to do something with that the distributor did not foresee. The end result is a 100% crime rate.

    Way to go, Conservatives… turn all of your citizens intro criminals, then you can arrest anybody you feel like for any reason whatsoever because you know they’ve broken digital locks.

    I don’t mean to sound like a conspiracy nutter, but the potential for that kind of abuse is far too real to ignore, IMO.

  5. end user says:

    @Mark Way to go, Conservatives… turn all of your citizens intro criminals, then you can arrest anybody you feel like for any reason whatsoever because you know they’ve broken digital locks.

    And this ties in nicely with privately run prisons. All the corporations are drooling over this. They sell you something and tie it to a single user and single device usage. Then lobby (pay off) politicians to introduce laws to make it illegal to circumvent any usage that is not allowed by the manufacturer. Customer goes to jail making the prison money which they then use to lobby some more…

    If you think that’s crazy you just have to see how the media companies are pushing to punish their users.

    Whats sad is that the internet is not really helping people take action, yes they get their info fast but they are so indulged in all the other info coming to them at the click of the button that most wont bother to do anything, as something new has grabbed their attention for a few more minutes.

  6. RE: Memory card tax
    I can’t help but notice that blank DVDs are still blatantly missing from here. I’d suspect far more people back MP3s up to DVD than they do to memory cards since so many DVD players these days will play MP3s straight off the disk. The movie industry does not want a levy on DVDs and the request on memory cards is a desperate cash grab that has a lot people questioning the validity of the levy in today’s environment.

    Hub, see here, if you missed it…

  7. Memory card tax
    I actually commented on that post in May. And yes I still noticed DVD are missing from the list.
    See my 2006 post:

  8. Brigette DePape
    Not quite related, but I’m sure we’ve all heard of the lowly page Brigette DePape who recently came to fame while holding a “Stop Harper” sign up during the throne speech. Well apparently it’s gotten the attention of Michael Moore, who has offered Brigette a job, with this statement,

    “Every now and then there is an iconic moment where an individual takes action, and it inspires others. . . . I think that Canada and Canadians probably need to put aside the full respect thing and get to work on preventing their government from turning into a version of ours.”

  9. Digital Locks
    Very good presentation. I believe there is a chance that the digital locks provisions could be amended. We heard considerable discussion on this in the last legislative hearings – debate that is sure to be repeated. Digital locks trumping all else doesn’t make sense and, in the months ahead, it is important that this argument is amplified.

  10. 3 Strike
    Is the 3 strike rule going to be in Canada ? We should follow what the Dutch government is doing if anything, not the USA, that’s all I heard USA USA bullies of the world!

    “Dutch government announced plans to change course. Downloading unauthorized music and movies would become illegal under the new plan, but in return, citizens get some new benefits: no more levies on MP3 players and blank CDs, a new “fair use” right,” and a pledge that the government won’t pursue “criminalization” of end users.

    The government plan was announced by Fred Teeven, the Justice and Security state secretary. Teeven noted that “downloading has long been illegal for games and other software, and this will now also apply to movies and music.”

    But unlike in France, the government has no interest in going after private citizens. “Consumers need not fear criminalization,” Teeven added. “There is no so-called ‘three-strikes’ law.”