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“Bill C-11 Is No SOPA”: My Response

While hysterical predictions about copyright reform in Canada have been ratcheted up yet again, this time the claims are so outrageous that they can perhaps best be described as having “jumped the shark.” Canadians are being told that Bill C-11, an act to amend Canada’s outdated copyright law, could be used to shut down popular websites such as YouTube, fundamentally change the Internet, sabotage online freedoms and hog-tie innovators.

Further details on how the proposed amendments to Bill C-11 could be used to target YouTube are available here and discussed in greater detail below. As noted in the post, the language in the bill – if combined with amendments supported by Sookman’s clients – could be used to target legitimate sites such as YouTube. Those same proposed amendments call for website blocking and ISP policies that could lead to loss of Internet service.

Activist organizations are urging Canadians to protest what they call the impending Bill C-11 “Internet lockdown.” Making wild claims about the bill that have no basis in reality are groups such as OpenMedia and Avaaz and illicit businesses who sell hacking devices for pirated video games, all urging online protests and all relying on the hyperbolic musings from University of Ottawa academic Michael Geist of what might or possibly or could one day happen. To fully ratchet up the frenzy, these groups are claiming attempts are being made to bring U.S.-style legislation to Canada.

I have written in detail about the SOPA-style rules including website blocking and expansion of liability for sites that could even cover legitimate sites here and here. The concerns about an “Internet lockdown” likely stem from the recording industry’s demand for ISP provisions that could lead to termination of Internet services.

These warnings are an attempt to exploit the controversy and unpopular anti-copyright sentiments about the much-misunderstood U.S. legislation in Congress called the Stop Online Piracy Act, and to derail parts of Bill C-11 and proposals to amend it. It doesn’t seem to matter that SOPA and Bill C-11 are entirely different pieces of legislation, with different goals and legislative text. Canadians should examine the facts and see the hysteria for what it is.

SOPA and C-11 are different pieces of legislation as I emphasized in an FAQ on the issue. What matters is the substance of the provisions in C-11 and the proposed changes that would add SOPA-style provisions to the bill.

Bill C-11 contains many provisions that would greatly expand the freedoms of Canadians to copy creative products under new exceptions for format shifting, time shifting and creating mash-ups. ISPs and other online service providers would have new wide exceptions when they act as neutral intermediaries. The bill also proposes new exceptions for broadcasters and to support learning and education. With these new exceptions, Canada’s copyright law would become one of the most user-friendly, if not by far the most user-friendly, in the world. An Internet lockdown? Hardly.

Bill C-11 certainly includes some user-friendly provisions. From the day the bill was introduced, I have argued that there are many aspect of the bill that deserve support. In fact, a review of the transcript of my committee appearance shows I was more supportive of the bill than Sookman, who appeared on the same day. The public has become concerned, however, because Sookman’s clients are seeking radical amendments that would scale back even the user-focused provisions. The proposed amendments (this is their document, not mine) includes limitations on the format shifting, time shifting, and user generated content provisions, restrictions on the ISP provisions, and elimination of the broadcaster provision. To suggest that the bill is user-friendly while simultaneously seeking to change those provisions amounts to a classic bait and switch.

Bill C-11 also proposes amendments to provide legal protection for technological protection measures (a.k.a. digital locks or TPMs) that safeguard intellectual property products. These amendments would use internationally accepted measures to support new business models and innovation in digital products and services such as online music and movie streaming services.

This is by far the most contentious aspect of the bill with a digital lock approach that is widely opposed by both major opposition parties, business groups, creator associations, consumer groups, and education associations. The issue is not whether to provide legal protection for digital locks, but rather how to do so in a manner that supports businesses and retains the copyright balance. The Canadian approach goes far beyond international requirements and raises legitimate fears about its impact on consumer property rights, free speech, and privacy. More information on the digital lock rules here.

The SOPA rhetoric has led opponents of legal protection for TPMs to mount further opposition to Bill C-11 by trying to link the anti-copyright sentiments about SOPA to the TPM provisions in Bill C-11, arguing, for example, that they are the “Canadian version of SOPA.” They do this even though there is no connection whatsoever between them.

The argument is that some of the proposed amendments to C-11 are the Canadian version of SOPA. Bill C-11 as it stands is better characterized as the Canadian DMCA, since it largely mirrors the digital lock approach found in that legislation. I discussed this point during my appearance on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

Bill C-11 also proposes an amendment intended to make it an infringement of copyright for a person using the Internet to knowingly enable copyright infringement. The poster children for this legislation are BitTorrent sites such as that have been found to facilitate the distribution of files, 95% to 99% of which are infringing. Other targets of the enablement provision are sites such as, a cyber locker site whose principals were just indicted for criminal copyright infringement. The FBI estimates that the founder, Kim Dotcom, personally made $115,000 a day from his network of sites.

In 2008, Sookman sent isoHunt a cease and desist letter that threatened legal action that would seek up to $20,000 per infringement. That letter was based on current Canadian copyright law.  In 2010, Sookman’s firm filed a lawsuit against isoHunt, citing a long list of copyright infringing activities based on current law. IsoHunt may be the poster child for the enabler provision, but Sookman is the poster child for how current Canadian law can be used to target these same sites.

This provision is currently worded to apply only to sites that are “designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement.” Mr. Geist claims that clarifying the wording to expressly cover services that are “primarily operated to enable infringement or induce infringement” could be used to shut down sites such as YouTube and would stifle innovation. These claims are ridiculous, though not surprising given his historical antipathy to laws designed to protect the creative industries from theft.

The amendments proposed by the recording industry are not “clarifications” of the enabler provision. They represent a significant expansion of the provision that would risk being applied to legitimate sites as well. I provide a full analysis of why the expanded provision could be used to target sites such as YouTube here.

To be clear, SOPA was intended to target foreign rogue websites that would already be illegal under U.S. copyright law if those sites were operated from the U.S.  Bill C-11 is not about foreign pirate sites: It is Canada’s attempt to establish rules about what is and isn’t legal in Canada.  This is long overdue. The fact that Canada has not updated its copyright laws to deal with the Internet environment has led to our reputation as a haven for internet piracy operations both with our trading partners and pirate operators including Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom.

As noted above, Sookman’s legal threats and lawsuits make it clear that he thinks these sites are illegal under current Canadian law. Canada’s reputation as a piracy haven is due to the hyperbolic claims of Sookman and his clients. The Business Software Alliance’s annual Global Piracy Report shows Canada among the 15 lowest piracy countries in the world with the Canadian piracy rate at an all-time low. The Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association has acknowledged that illegal camcording had largely disappeared from the Canadian market. In 2010, the World Economic Forum found that global executives rank Canadian intellectual property protection ahead of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and most of Europe. Canada is a world leader in digital music sales that even the Canadian Recording Industry Association now characterizes as a commercial opportunity.

The current wave of opposition to the amendments appears to be an opportunist effort to turn the tide on effective copyright reform by leveraging anti-SOPA public opinion. The amendments that are being objected to were first tabled before the Parliamentary Committee examining Bill C-32 in March 2011 and were publically disseminated even by Mr. Geist, well before the SOPA ruckus. At that time there was no public opposition to the proposed amendments as going too far.

The Bill C-32 committee solicited comments and proposed amendments from all Canadians. It received dozens of submissions, but none were posted online or made publicly available. I obtained copies of the submissions last summer after Bill C-32 died on the order paper as part of a request from the committee clerk. There was no public opposition to the proposed amendments because few people were actually aware of the specifics. Moreover, by Sookman’s standard, there were no objections to the dozens of suggested changes, the majority of which called for reforms to the digital lock rules.

The new argument that amendments would cover sites such as YouTube is spurious. Bill C-11 provides a series of criteria that a court would need to consider in determining if a site primarily enables infringement. The targeted sites are those: promoted to enable acts of infringement; that know they are being used to enable significant infringements; that have no significant uses other than enabling infringement; that benefit from enabling infringement; and that would be economically unviable but for enabling infringement. The types of sites that would be affected are such sites as IsoHunt and Megaupload, the very wealth-destroying “innovators” the bill targets.

I outlined how the specific criteria could applied to YouTube here.  To repeat, contrast the Bill C-11 criteria that a court may consider with Viacom’s claims against YouTube, as found in its appellate brief:

Bill C-11 Viacom’s Claims
whether the person expressly or implicitly marketed or promoted the service as one that could be used to enable acts of copyright infringement “YouTube’s founders built an integrated media entertainment business, in the district court’s words, by welcom[ing] copyright-infringing material being placed on their website.  That copyrighted material was ‘attractive to users, and enhanced defendants’ income from advertisements, enabling YouTube’s founders to sell the business to Google for $1.65 billion.”
whether the person had knowledge that the service was used to enable a significant number of acts of copyright infringement “Almost immediately after YouTube came online, YouTube became aware of widespread infringement on its site.  And it was the copyrighted videos ”not home movies” that people flocked to YouTube to see.”
whether the service has significant uses other than to enable acts of copyright infringement “In their written presentation to Google’s board and senior management, Google’s financial advisors stated that 60 percent of YouTube’s views were premium, i.e., copyrighted, and only 10 percent of the premium videos were licensed.”
the person’s ability, as part of providing the service, to limit acts of copyright infringement, and any action taken by the person to do so “Dunton similarly put a stop to efforts to implement software that would notify copyright owners when infringing videos were uploaded.  Even though a YouTube engineer said that implementing an automated anti-infringement tool to alert copyright owners when suspected  infringing content was uploaded “isn’t hard” and would “take another day or [weekend],”  Dunton ordered the engineer to “forget about the email alerts stuff” because “we’re just trying to cover our asses so we don’t get sued.”
any benefits the person received as a result of enabling the acts of copyright
“Unable to compete with YouTube’s pirated content, in late 2006, Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion.”
the economic viability of the provision of the service if it were not used to enable acts of copyright infringement “As early as June of 2005, YouTube’s Internet service provider complained that YouTube was violating its user agreement by, YouTube founder Steve Chen believed, “hosting copyrighted content.”  But Chen resolved that YouTube was “not about to take down content because our ISP is giving us shit.”  And, in emails with the other founders, he later remarked “we need to attract traffic. . . .  [T]he only reason why our traffic surged was due to a video of this type, i.e., copyrighted and unauthorized”

The government has acknowledged that technical amendments to Bill C-11 are required. A healthy debate based on facts can be expected as Parliament’s Special Legislative Committee continues to consider it, and thoughtful debate is always helpful in ensuring a proposed law meets its objectives. But let’s not be fooled by Chicken Little claims. Canadians will all be hurt if the debate continues to be marred by political opportunism and misinformation spread for political purposes.

If there has been political opportunism and misinformation, it has been the consistent mischaracterization of Canadian law by groups such as CRIA and their representatives, which sue on the one hand and lobby for reform on the other. The fact that tens of thousands of Canadians have woken up to Bill C-11 and the radical proposed amendments supported by Sookman’s clients is a welcome development, one that will help ensure a full debate with politicians from all parties better aware of where Canadians stand on copyright reform.


  1. Radical Stupidity
    So… between “Those that oppose us are radical extremists” and “those that oppose us are pirates” attacks that Sookman and the other MPAA/RIAA corporate pawns (CRIA is actually nothing exept a canadian division of RIAA therefore not even worth mentionning) do against those of us who actually understand how the internet works and how laws would negativaly impact said network (SOPA/PIPA and the DNS blacklist for instance) really should think twice about what they say. I am all for defending IP, I am against laws that are “stupid on crime” like SOPA/PIPA or even the C-11’s DRM protection without copyright link(which I understand, might be inconstitutionnal since DRM is property therefore it should really be decided by provinces and not the federal level).

    PS: Boston Strangler vs VHS, “If china can do it, why can’t we” from Dodd… I wonder why I am not really supportive of their point of view… ah yes, their arguments sucks and don’t really support their claim.

  2. I do like how current laws make it so that they can go after places like isoHunt, but they need new laws to go after places like isoHunt. It’s rather amusing. The Internet rules are fine the way they currently are in C-11, wanting to change them is baseless fear mongering on the side of the industry to try and prop up a dying way of doing business. That’s not to say that things may become cheaper in the future (offer something at prices people are willing to pay for it and all that, which is how capitalism works), but that they may need to look at new ways of distributing things.

    As for the digital lock rules, those go far beyond what is needed for copyright law and trying to say they do not is lying.

  3. fines
    Under C-11 the fines for copyright infringement would be more severe than those for drunk driving

  4. trivia from cartoonists

    another historical approach to a repeating cycle of crap from the establishment.

    complete with precedent and other analogies (demonstration, authority and analogy being ‘proof’ these days.

    which tar pit, i wonder…


  5. Of course, to top it all off… our government has actually stated that they *WILL NOT* hold people accountable for breaking digital locks for personal purposes. Of course, the act will still be illegal… and the tools that are required to do such things will still be illegal. But generally people aren’t going to be held accountable for it unless they are doing so in some way that doesn’t amount to private copying or personal use.

    Considering that people are certainly going to continue to want to do things like format shift to their ipod or what have you, and C11 sureptitiously creates additional incentives for content creators to use digital locks, because of the additional protections that such creators would be supposed to receive, which will reduce the availability of unlocked and alternative works that people will be able to legally back up or format shift, this stance is nothing short of our government actively wanting our nation to become closet lawbreakers. Of course, the reality is that when it comes down to it, such prohibitions that include private copying and personal use are ultimately wholly unenforceable in those circumstances. But laws which still prohibit it, where the government has declared no intention to enforce it in specific cases creates a scenario where law enforcement can arbitrarily decide to punish people, using the law to unfairly suppress freedom of completely legal speech, or where they can play favorites, and not apply the law equally to all people, using whatever reasons for discrimination that might be convenient at the time.

    The fact that C-11’s digital lock prohibitions extend to things like private copying, and format shifting for personal use, and the fact that tools are going to be outlawed that will allow a person to do those things, are a complete abomination that desperately needs to be removed from C-11… and even to this day it remains my sole real objection to the bill.

    In my experience, trying to educate people on this matter is like talking to stones. Most people simply don’t seem to care if something that they like doing is going to be illegal… particularly since the government won’t evidently be enforcing it.

  6. @Mark
    “our government has actually stated that they *WILL NOT* hold people accountable for breaking digital locks for personal purposes.”

    …doesn’t mean the copyright holder won’t sue your a$$ off.

    So how will time allocation affect this whole process? This just tells me the government really isn’t willing to hear arguments and have already made up their mind to pass without any amendments.

  7. isoHunt
    They went after isoHunt using existing copyright law in 2008. That was four years ago. What has happened in the interim?

  8. “our government has actually stated that they *WILL NOT* hold people accountable for breaking digital locks for personal purposes.”

    Which I think kind of undermines any of the arguments for keeping it the way it is. Why keep it the way it is if there are no plans on having it enforced? Why not change it so that it fits what you are planning to enforce? The answer probably is to open up the ability to sue people for this anyway.

  9. “let’s not be fooled by Chicken Little claims”
    If ever there were words that I’d like the government to listen to regarding copyright reform, it’s these words from Mr Sookman. Of course the reality is that entertainment industries are doing just fine – better than ever, in fact, and don’t need any sort of bailout. There’s a great report, “The Sky is Rising”, available at

  10. @Ki
    Again, just because the government does not plan to hold people accountable, does NOT mean the copyright holder will be so obliging!! It’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

  11. So its not just isoHunt they want to outlaw, its every single file locker site as well, and who knows what else….

    Locker sites shouldn’t even qualify under the enabler provision as such sites have substantial non-infringing uses, yet here we are Sookman and company are already saying these sites are illegal, following the whole Megaupload thing, which nobody was convicted of anything yet though Sookman already called them guilty.

  12. Black kettles for sale …
    @Sookman “While hysterical predictions about copyright reform in Canada have been ratcheted up yet again, this time the claims are so outrageous that they can perhaps best be described as having “jumped the shark.”

    Oh my, Mr. Sookman should either glace in a mirror or check his false teeth. As a paid representative of the copyright lobby he should be aware of it’s own shark jumping …

    “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” – Jack Valenti

    ” Those who count on quote Hollywood for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

 -Chris Dodd [MPAA] to Washington legislators

    Hypocrisy seems to be the bread and butter of the content industry, which is why there is so much animosity from the general public. Yet here is a quote that is refreshingly honest …

    “And in a strange and bizarre way, when movie actors come to Washington, they’re absolutely fascinated by the politicians. And when the politicians go to Hollywood, they’re absolutely fascinated by the movie stars. It’s a kind of reciprocity of affection by people who both recognize in a sense they’re in the same racket.” – Jack Valenti

    Yes, there has been hyperbole from some copyright maximalist opponents who have not taken the time to get all the facts straight. Prominent tech sites [ for example] have been aggressive at countering such claims and providing accurate information. Yet, what we do have is a growing awareness of the backhand tactics of the media lobby who say one thing publicly and do there best under the table to do the opposite.

    So sorry for you that this issue has finally raised itself into the public consciousness. I can tell it had you unsettled, and justly so.

  13. YouTube Would go Down
    Looking into the bill, ambiguity is not our friend. 31.1 on bill C-11 has a lot of ambiguity on who a “Network Provider” is. Which makes it seems as though they could be an ISP or even a hosting website. Mr. Geist pointed out how they would be able to take out YouTube, and looking into it further, I also found that people are allowed to make a copy of a copyrighted material, as long as it’s for private use. Meaning any cover songs on YouTube could be considered copyright infringement. Making it so much easier to take down a “Network Provider”. Under this same logic, any site that could be hosting copyright infringed material, that’s listed on a Google search could also be terms to shut down a “Network Provider”

  14. @Crockett
    “So sorry for you that this issue has finally raised itself into the public consciousness. I can tell it had you unsettled, and justly so.?

    Unfortunately, perhaps too little too late, if Van Loan gives (Or has given) notice of time allocation, it won’t leave much time to organize any real opposition. At this point the government has proven over and over again that they’re not willing to listen to public opinion or negotiate with anyone other than the US and the corporate lobbies. So, I think only mass public protest might help…and, well, that’s just not going to happen in Canada. We don’t have the culture for it nor the population density to make it work.

    Personally, I think we’re toast and the best we can hope for is to have portions of it overturned on the basis of a constitutional challenge after it’s been passed.

  15. @Sookman “To fully ratchet up the frenzy, these groups are claiming attempts are being made to bring U.S.-style legislation to Canada.”

    Hmm, too bad the wiki-leaked diplomatic cables from the USA on this matter shows the real behind the curtain shenanigans. To think this pressure is non-existent or has somehow gone away is for the weak minded or the duplicitous.

    To infer otherwise, Mr. Sookman, is bold face lying and reveals the true nature of your motivations.

  16. Crocket- what did ou expect he does do work for the CRIA aka RIAA North

  17. Ray Saintonge says:

    There’s a peculiar arrogance to the Viacom claim, “And it was the copyrighted videos—not home movies—that people flocked to YouTube to see.” Copyright is automatic. The stupid home movies of cats, babies and idiot teenagers have the same copyright protections as the Hollywood blockbusters. That’s part of the problem.

  18. Ah yes, more of the classic free-culture even-mindedness and respectful argumentation on display. Geist can’t write six words before he feels he must impugn the character of his respected opponent with a favorite slop of mud – “lobbyist.”

    The agreement chorus takes its cue and now Mr. Sookman is accused of “bold faced” lying, whatever that is.

    Forever classy.

  19. It means what is says John, surprised you haven’t heard of it … face lie

    It means to say or infer something that everyone knows is false. The USA has, does and continues to influence copyright policy outside of their borders. That is the whole point of ACTA in the first place.

    Also, here is the definition of lobbyist: “someone who is employed to persuade legislators to vote for legislation that favors the lobbyist’s employer.”

    Who is it that is cutting Mr. Sookman’s paystub?

    Classy indeed.

  20. @Degen

    Say what you want about Geist, but even you can’t deny that the industry has done it’s fair share of mud slinging and doom saying over the years…yet, for all the doom and gloom, here we are today with record profits.

    What I don’t agree with is such heavy-handed government protection for such a small sector, a sector that has shown unwillingness to evolve, at a loss for the rest of us. EVEN with all the wants and dreams of the industry, such as ISP liability, enabler provisions, on-line spying, disconnections, etc etc etc, it won’t affect piracy for long, if at all. Technology evolves much too fast for that and any gains made will quickly be circumvented by new technologies. NOW, C-11 with all those provisions, give the industry market control and the ability to squash competition before it starts. International sites that pose a competitive threat are blocked before they’re widely adopted. Local sites are legislated or sued in to annihilation. Learn from the DMCA, learn from the fall of SOPA/PIPA. Corporations are out to improve their worth and have no moral. Such legislation can and will be abused and the biggest losers will be the consumers and developing businesses.

    In the end, the entertainment industry will actually suffer great loss, but not due to piracy, due to it’s failure to innovate.

  21. Un-Trusted Computi9ng says:

    Actually John…

    Barry Sookman was a registered lobbyist for CRIA from 2010-06-11 to 2011-06-16 as per the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada, and is currently registered as a lobbyist for RIM. Factually speaking Barry Sookman is by definition a lobbyist, if you feel the term is pejorative, then that speaks more to your perception of lobbyists than anything else.

  22. @Degen

    At least here Mr. Degen can argue in comments. His filtered blog articles tend to have an loyal audience of one. (There’s even one with 4 comments, three are his. lol) Popular, he ain’t.

    I’d feel bad about saying this but, my word, he’s done far worse and far more often towards Mr. Geist. Almost everything he says towards Mr. Geist has some kind of name calling boarding on vendetta. Civil, he also ain’t.

    As for Sockman (deliberate mis-spell there), I have to agree that his article is misleading at best, outright deceptive at worst. Lawyer, lobbyist, liar?

  23. Crockett,

    So, you are publicly saying that Barry Sookman, partner at McCarthy Tetrault, is … what was your convenient “definition” for your sloppy usage?… saying something that everyone knows is false, in a published newspaper article? That’s what you’re saying? You’re saying he’s lying, and that he’s doing so at the behest of a client?

    I’d like an unequivocal answer to that question, and after you give it please provide your full name.

    Big talkers over here.

  24. @Degen
    Sookman’s article includes multiple character attacks against the professor and he didn’t have the decency to include the usual disclosure about his interests and clients. To complain about referencing Sookman’s background in what is a long substantive post is just petty.

  25. LOL
    “So, you are publicly saying that Barry Sookman, partner at McCarthy Tetrault, is … what was your convenient “definition” for your sloppy usage?… saying something that everyone knows is false, in a published newspaper article? That’s what you’re saying? You’re saying he’s lying, and that he’s doing so at the behest of a client?”

    OH MY GOD, I thought I was going to die laughing at this, because lawyers, IP lawyers at that, are cut from such a high moral cloth that they NEVER lie at the behest of their clients…right? LOL I thought it was their JOB to manipulate and twist facts to the advantage of their clients.

  26. Keep talking, bravehearts.

  27. You DO know that Michael Geist is a lawyer, right?

  28. @Degen
    “You DO know that Michael Geist is a lawyer, right?”

    I’m guess that was aimed at me? And..? So I added a possible third profession to Sookman–not my fault you assume all lawyers are liars. I’m sure Sookman will be pleased about your opinion of him. Someone’s froth doth overflow.

  29. A well oiled deception is better than a lie …
    Well John, I will take your point that we are talking of lawyers here, and it is their job to present (or omit) facts in such a way to the benefit of their clients, yes even Geist going by the job description.

    As much as I hate doublespeak here is what Sookman said “To fully ratchet up the frenzy, these groups are claiming attempts are being made to bring U.S.-style legislation to Canada.”

    Interestingly, here he did not go on to say this is untrue but by inference and style is leading to that conclusion. I will admit to getting caught on that, I suppose that is just being a good lawyer, so I give him points on that.

    Nevertheless, the USA is actually trying to export their laws to the world by pressure and clout, ACTA is drafted specifically for that purpose. Wiki-leaks also revealed the behind the curtain manipulations.

    His leading otherwise is deceptive, and for that he is guilty. Bold face lie? For a lawyer, perhaps his actions are sanctioned, but still lead to the same outcome. Poorly, in my books.

  30. Here is another quote from the head of the RIAA …
    “We all share the goal of a safe and legal Internet. We need reason, not rhetoric, in discussing how to achieve it.” – RIAA CEO

    This is why rhetoric has always been far absent from the mouths of the RIAA 0_o

    Hard to taste your own bile is it? When your own overblown ‘facts’ simmer down somewhere close to reality then maybe there can be discussion. Calling for civility now that you are on the defensive is cute if not predictable.

  31. Degen said:
    .. Ah yes, more of the classic free-culture even-mindedness and respectful argumentation on display. G

    Here’s some more free-culture for you Degan

    That’s got to put a crinkle on things for the music rapists.

  32. The parade of cowards. As I suspected. Goodnight free culture. Enjoy your fever dreams.

  33. A coward is one who refuses to debate in his own court.

    Good night John, enjoy your hypocrisy.

  34. @Degan
    Ah Degan, I see you came out all guns blazing with no actual arguments and just character attacks (which ironically is what you are accusing Giest of). Good to see you haven’t changed a bit.

  35. RE: Degen
    So it’s obvious now that you no longer have *any* tangible, productive points to make or evidence to produce. You have completely resorted to pure ad hominem.

    I must ask you John, how do you feel when you make these blanket statements? I wonder if this is just weird, degenerate personality trait, or perhaps you are being paid just enough money to act anti-social and berate people. As an author, don’t you think it would be more productive to write better books and improve your skill and yourself rather then spend time on a blog treating everyone like subhuman garbage? I wonder if you would exhibit the same behaviour in real life. Perhaps, meeting one of the people you troll on this and other blog, you wouldn’t have the stomach to do it; you couldn’t look at their face and in their eyes and act in the way you do here, the way contrary to a mature civil society.

    Your generalizations about the Internet and “Free culture” as you put it are very telling. Would you bundle Free-as-in-freedom, open source software in that category? Software that has been developed by hard working volunteers (and employees and professional programmers) all over the world? Software that has seen a lot of hard work, creativity, and effort put into it? Software that was written with the goal of innovation rather than profit, of bettering and excellence? What about music released for no charge by artists under Creative Commons? What about any shared art? What about YouTube remixs of television shows, re-editing with original thinking and ideas? You’d sweep that all under one label you present in a derogatory light. You rather live in a simple world where profit is the number one motivator of everything. Where books, movies, and other art are just products and “content” to be consumed. That distribution over the Internet where money isn’t involved is always a negative thing, and the people doing it are just lazy freeloaders not wanting to pay for anything. This is the viewpoint you portray, despite all the evidence contradicting you, despite all the work done and all the studies published. You prefer to remain obstinate, closed-minded, and frankly, just plain mean.
    I find it sad that have to act like a bully, acting in a way reserved for a secondary school. I am perfectly willing to have an open, civilised, calm, and mature discussion, but you are clearly not. The fact that these tactics are used for a majority of people who share your viewpoint, tactics of sabotaging conversations and trolling, as a defence from any sort of constructive criticism, really disappoints me, and reinforces my belief that the side of media conglomerates will only be happy once the compromise between themselves and everyone else is 1:0.

    Hey get this out to everyone you know to sign petition or write to your Local MP, if they don’t know what to write it’s all here for you..–>


  37. A great article that spells out just how ludicrous [and scared] the Big Content talking heads are sounding right now, and how just about everyone outside of them and their lackeys feels about things …

  38. Crockett,

    Only in your fantasy world would someone with an extremely well-read blog full of opinion and dissent, many, many public presentations on copyright and several nationally published op-eds be accused of avoiding debate.

    And thank you. Eric L. for your important lesson in not engaging in ad hominem attacks. My weird, degenerate personality trait appreciates hearing such important truths.

    I note the general slander of Mr. Sookman over here has calmed somewhat now that you all can aim some of it at me. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.” Your courage is inspiring.

  39. Keith Symczack - London, Ontario says:

    John Degen
    @degen, your’s is a smugness and pretention that knows no bounds. Why you think you can lay sole claim to the moral high-ground in the ‘copyfight’ is beyond my comprehension. Your hyperbole is peppered with references to your superior understanding of the complexities of copyright law by you and your fellow literati. What is also outside the limits of discernment is your unfettered rebuke for anyone who dares challenge your markedly skewed perspective of copyright laws.

    I am inclined to believe that your tireless and unscrupulous attacks at Geist, Knopf, McCormond et al is more than just a noble pursuit. Perhaps you are an adjunct associate at McCarthy? A paid shill for the CRIA? Chief Astroturf Officer at Care to come clean and disclose your true monetary motivations? And I’m not interested in your usual rhetoric of ‘protecting creators’ and ‘ensuring they get paid for their works’ as the free market takes care of them just fine without you, thank you very much. That is, the free market takes care of those that deserve compensation just fine thank you very much.

    Just what is your precious C11 going to bring you and your henchmen? This little pet-project of Minister Moore will not benefit creators in the least. However, it will create Canadian versions of Jammie Thomas and Joel Tenenbaum from which firms like McCarthy stand to make even more money with frivolous lawsuits and astronomical legal fees charged to innocent Canadians. Oh, wait, maybe that is your motivation?

  40. @Degen
    “You DO know that Michael Geist is a lawyer, right?”

    I thought of this after the fact, but I stand by my opinion. As a general rule, I don’t trust lawyers. Now about Geist, yes, he is trained as a lawyer…but chooses to work in education. I have a diploma in electronics and a degree in computer science. Does that make make me an electronics technician or a software developer? I choose the latter but am qualified as both.

    Now do I judge him as an educator or as a lawyer? In this case, actions speak louder than credentials and Geist has proven to have strong support for consumer rights. I am a consumer much more than a creator, so I choose to respect Geist based on his merits, not his credentials.

    What Sookman and the industry lobbies want in this legislation takes away some of the rights I currently, and legally, enjoy every day. There has been a constant campaign of misinformation by the lobbies to categorize Canada as a haven for piracy, when international studies show otherwise, all to protect legacy business models that no longer function well within today’s world. For this I choose to be in opposition as any consumer should.

    Even if C-11 passes, it will FAIL because most consumers, especially those under 30, will have no respect for what WILL be considered a blatant infringement on their rights. Just look at how effective the DMCA was? Piracy actually increased after it’s passing. Do you think I’m going to give up plans to build a media center, just because C-11 says it’s now illegal to break CSS encryption? I’ve already purchased the DVDs, if they want to refund me in full, the money I spent on those 1600+ DVDs over the years, I’ll be happy to oblige them. What would that be…approximately $35,000 I’ve sunk in to the industry on DVDs alone? I still have every DVD I’ve ever purchased, though I’ve been getting rid of the cases because I’m becoming overrun. C’mon John, I’m not your enemy…but as an early adopter of digital, I just want to use the content I’ve purchased in the same way I’ve used it for many years.

  41. Hey, never commented here before but I’m really curious whether Degen can back up his tough talk. First of all:

    “. saying something that everyone knows is false, in a published newspaper article? That’s what you’re saying? You’re saying he’s lying, and that he’s doing so at the behest of a client? ”

    Yes, it certainly seems that way. Not sure why that’s surprising…politicians, lobbyists, PR flacks, and lawyers lie all the time. That’s why it’s important to have folks like Michael Geist challenging them on their bull. By the way, tough guy, my last name is Lavine. Coming to track me down so we can fight or something? Big talkers indeed.

    Second of all, can you back up any of your posturing? Can you actually make an argument? Can you point out where Geist is factually wrong about anything? Maybe start with the lobbyist bit…in what sense is Sookman NOT a lobbyist?

  42. “And thank you. Eric L. for your important lesson in not engaging in ad hominem attacks. My weird, degenerate personality trait appreciates hearing such important truths.”

    Oh I see. So when I make a not-really-an-ad-hominem (because I simply listed it as a possibility, not an insult or an absolute; and beside, we all have some weird, degenerate personality trait, as a person with ASD such as myself would know), it’s a bad thing, but when you say:

    “The agreement chorus takes its cue and now Mr. Sookman is accused of “bold faced” lying, whatever that is.

    Forever classy.”


    “Big talkers over here.”


    “Keep talking, bravehearts.”


    “The parade of cowards. As I suspected. Goodnight free culture. Enjoy your fever dreams.”

    The parade of cowards? This is supposed to be an entirely factual, objective description from a mature adult? Really? Really John, just read that quoted comment over again, a few dozen times. You think you have some sort of intellectual checkmate going? That you own the high-ground? Please. If went on your blog and did similar comments to what you do here, well, you’d probably censor me ironically enough. Again, it’s a shame that it is often the case that people who share the viewpoint you hold employ these tactics to attack the other side. It brings me to mind the commentators that Microsoft paid to go post comments attacking viewpoints that Microsoft didn’t agree with.

    I challenge you to meet one of us in real life and use the same derogatory language and phrasing that you use on this and other blogs. Really, I challenge you to do this. I want to see this behaviour from the literature officer of the Ontario Arts Council. After, you sign your comments with you real name, you should have no problem acknowledging your behaviour face-to-face.

  43. John Censors
    “If went on your blog and did similar comments to what you do here, well, you’d probably censor me ironically enough.”

    I can confirm this. I’ve made comments on John blog which never made it in to public view (Using various alias’ from different IPs using TOR, so I know he’s reading them and not just blocking me LOL). John doesn’t like when people disagree with him or actually ask for substantiated details.

    In reality he doesn’t have a clue and C-11 will do very little to help the actual artists he so claims are being killed by piracy. It should not come a surprise that artists rarely own their own copyright, they sign a binding contract that signs their ownership away. If the government really wanted to help artists, they’d be looking at modifying contract law to force industry giants to give better contracts, not copyright law.

  44. @Degen “Only in your fantasy world would someone with an extremely well-read blog full of opinion and dissent, many, many public presentations on copyright and several nationally published op-eds be accused of avoiding debate.”

    The only reason you have limited access to your blog is because we made you look like a fool (and still do). You can dish out all the insults you wish but when it comes to refuting arguments you bail, or conjure up crickets.

    I can stand blowhards & lackeys but a man who will not stand by his own principles is below measure.

  45. Man, you folks sure can dish it out, but just look what happens when someone stands up to your bullying using his real name. Not-so-veiled threats and a ramping up of the slander. I put up with a lot of crap for the sake of representing the professional creator side of things over here, but I draw the line at physical intimidation. This blog is a hopeless case.

    Dan L. – my opinons are clear and unhidden. You can read them on my blog. Strangely, when I asked Crockett and Darryl and the boys to leave my personal digital space after years of putting up with their antics, my readership tripled. Thanks guys.

    Peace out.

  46. Back to reality
    Let’s get back to reality here.

    The Conservative government rules with absolute majority, so they can do as they please. Protest all you like, they can and do what they want anyway. Especially on #C11 there seems to be a tight party-line.

    I’m in a riding with an MP from the NDP. I guess they’re against C11. Not really sure; Do you see it at all? No. So we can at least conclude that the NDP is still a party of Typewriters.

    Liberals? Nothing much either, but when you search you can find this: Yup. Manitoba. So the Liberals are also mainly typewriters. They don’t care about the Internet.

    Greens then? Nope… something about Bill C-19… not a misspelling. So also no luck.

    One more shot…

    WOW. OMG. It’s ALL about the Internet! Nothing about Vaclav Havel. Kyoto/Durban. Bla-di-bla long gun registry. Bla bla Bob Rae. And more Bob Rae.

    I have come to the conclusion that NONE of the established parties give C-11 the attention that the 30 and under crew want to see. Why? Don’t they know? What is keeping them quiet?

  47. I think John, Eric L. was calling YOU out as the bully, but if you think he was really wanting to meet you in a back alley somewhere then yes, peace John.

    The content industry as a whole are mostly bullies. The RIAA suing single mothers for millions (there absolutely no way that can be construed anywhere else), trolling IP lawyers hitting up nameless Joes with pay or else letters, threats of disconnection, removing family baby videos for no good reason … the list goes on.

    It is hard to find organizations that are more maligned than the **AA’s, and they have brought that on themselves. What’s even more pathetic is the whining that we hear now that people are starting to stand up to you. The only thing worse than a bully is one who turns into a crybaby.

    If your readership has actually increased, I suspect it is only because bullies don’t like to hear the truth.

  48. But John, you’ve always done and still do the exact same thing you accuse everyone here of. That pedestal you like to put yourself up on really isn’t as high as you think it is.

    You always tend to ignore arguments you can’t refute, you mis-represent other people’s points of views, and you tend to come out with the insults when people don’t accept your viewpoint as valid. If you can’t take the heat John, be sure you don’t start the fire yourself.

  49. And yes, Eric L. was calling John out for the rather large amount of bully tactics he’s used here since as long as I’ve seen him post. He uses those same tactics on his own blog as well.

  50. RE Degen
    Why do you guys insist on feeding the trolls. You give this guy exactly what he’s looking for.

  51. RE: Avi Solomon
    You are absolutely right Avi. Not that I had really anything more to say anyway. Trying to portray yourself as a victim, eh John? Yeah, my ultimate purpose all along was for me and you to have a brawling match in the street.[/sarcasm, in case you don’t get that it was sarcasm]. But whatever John. Just, whatever.

  52. …”You DO know that Michael Geist is a lawyer, right?”

    Geist is a lawyer, and an educator.
    Sookman is a lawyer, and a lobbyist.

    Legal training equips a person with certain tools, including a way of thinking and presentation of arguments. Much like any other profession. It says nothing about their motivations, goals, or personality. The tools of the trade can be used in pursuit of those goals, just as they can be used in the pursuit of their profession. Even to the point of overriding professional oaths (EG: a doctor that commits a murder).

    Both are authorities on their subjects, both are highly focused on copyright. They have many major points of disagreement.
    When it come down to these disagreements between Sookman and Geist, you can see the legal tools come into play, but you can also see the secondary (primary??) roles of educator and lobbyist come into play. It is left to the observer to determine the motivation and goals underlying the arguments.

    For certain personality types, quoting an authority is everything, the content of the argument is secondary. For other personality types, the source of the argument points are irrelevant and the content of the argument is everything. Of course, there are all kinds of shades of grey between these extremes.
    Over many years, I have observed that the former personality type often insist on “traceable” identities in discussions, while the latter don’t even care. In simplistic terms, it boils down to “who are you to say?” vs “what did you say?”.

    Observers (and participants) align themselves strongly or weakly with perceived motivations, but the form of their secondary discussions often follow the pattern of their personality types.

    In the above discussion, I see a lot of “cross-form” discussion. This is very rarely productive.

  53. Yet another example of big-media bullying
    ‘Ghost Rider’ Creator Owes Marvel $17 Grand

    Marvel Comics has sued (And won) the guy who created Ghost Rider way back in 1972 for a meager $17000 because he was selling some Ghost Rider swag he had created at trade shows. Ghost Rider has generated hundreds of millions in revenue over the years for Marvel and they sued the guy who created it…for $17000. That’s pretty small of them and really shows their true colors!!!

  54. Lucas tried that with the guy who designed the Stormtrooper armour for the Star Wars movie. Turns out under UK law, he actually own the right to make it and sell it because of the contract or lack there of with Lucas (forget the exact details). And he does sell them online (and not very cheaply). I doubt he can sell them overseas though.

  55. That bill is so bad, that if it passes as-is, our small business ISP would most likely need to shut down, simply because we couldn’t afford the manpower needed to regulate “our” internet. This is a shame in all it stands for, and it’s sad proof that we’re sold to United-Statesians imperialism. Did we voice our concerns? Of course. Were we heard or even acknowledged? Not a chance.

  56. Degan
    Here’s another one for you, how convenient for the “Right Holders”

  57. Why we h@te the RIAA
    End User, that is why smart creators will leverage the power of the Internet to increase their take of profits rather than hand them over. It is telling that the labels are using ‘old technology’ formulas on digital media to determine the payout to artists.

    Just another sign that creators need to abandon the **AA’s and innovate themselves into the marketplace, and likely be better off for it.

  58. The best way to take these guys down is through their pocketbook …
    IamME, again that is why I distance myself from going to see Hollywood fare or listen to RIAA pop ditties. From the $50 million settlement of underpaid musicians, to the creative accounting of Hollywood that denies many their royalties due … it is better to support artists directly and enjoy a much better fan experience, earning them more in the meantime.

  59. @Crockett
    And I do. Lately, I’ve been heavily supporting those creators, mostly on indie labels or self published, that will actually answer questions on Twitter or on their blogs. That little bit of interaction gives me a great deal of respect for them. Even Neil Gaiman, with almost 1.7M followers on twitter has always responded to any questions I’ve had. That can’t be said of some others I follow, with far less followers.

  60. A good example
    Steve Niles is a somewhat popular comic writer, responsible for the extremely seminal “30 Days of Night” horror graphic novel which has all been made in to a successful movie. Now, he’s on a large publisher IDW, and while his stuff is widely available from anywhere that carries such wares, he sells his books directly from his web site. Now you still pay full cover price (+shipping), but rather than paying middlemen and shop markup, it all goes directly to the creator, and as a bonus, he signs anything you buy directly from him and often throws freebies in as a perk if you buy over a certain amount. The signed copies alone are worth the cost of the shipping. But the point is, another creator taking control of his own destiny, but still working within the veil, and perhaps even safety-net, of big publishing. IDW will still get their cut, but he gets everything else. He’s also extremely active on twitter, replies to his fans, and was very vocal in his opposition of SOPA/PIPA.

  61. Dont be distracted
    If you are a student of history you will find that any massive, creative invention, the internet by example, will evolve and behind that evolution will come the scaffolding that will build tax structure and equalization and anti combine laws. IF you are an entrepreneur you will be taxed, you will be regulated and it wont necessarily be fair, and so goes life……so tell me something absolutely new.