The Other Shoe Drops: Music Reps Want SOPA-Style Website Blocking Added To Copyright Bill

The Bill C-11 committee conducts its final witness hearing on copyright reform today and not a moment too soon. Based on the demands from music industry witnesses this week, shutting down the Internet must surely be coming next. The week started with the Canadian Independent Music Association seeking changes to the enabler provision that would create liability risk for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, video sites, and many other websites featuring third party contributions. It also called for a new iPod tax, an extension in the term of copyright, a removal of protections for user generated content, parody, and satire, as well as an unlimited statutory damage awards and a content takedown system with no court oversight. CIMA was followed by ADISQ, which wants its own lawful access approach that would require Internet providers to disclose subscriber information without court oversight based on allegations of infringement (the attack on fair dealing is covered in a separate post).

Yesterday the Canadian Music Publishers Association added to the demand list by pulling out the SOPA playbook and calling for website blocking provisions. Implausibly describing the demand as a “technical amendment”, the CMPA argued that Internet providers take an active role in shaping the Internet traffic on their systems and therefore it wants to “create a positive obligation for service providers to prevent the use of their services to infringe copyright by offshore sites.” If the actual wording is as broad as the proposal (the CMPA acknowledged that it has an alternate, more limited version), this would open the door to blocking thousands of legitimate sites. The CMPA admitted that the proposal bears a similarity to SOPA and PIPA, but argued that it was narrower than the controversial U.S. bills. While that may technically be true – SOPA envisioned DNS blocking and targeting advertising and payment networks – the website blocking provisions look a lot like the legislation that sparked massive public protest.

The net effect of the music industry demands represents more than a stunning overhaul of Bill C-11 as it is effectively calling for a radical reform of the Internet in Canada. Taken together, the proposals would require Internet providers to block access to foreign sites, take down content without court oversight, and disclose subscriber information without a warrant. On top of those demands, the industry also wants individuals to face unlimited statutory damages and pay a new iPod tax. It also wants an expanded enabler provision that is so broadly defined as potentially capture social networking sites and search engines.

When Bill C-32 was first introduced, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore famously characterized opponents as radical extremists. As the hearing on the bill nears its conclusion, it has become apparent that the only radical extremism are music industry proposals that are so over-the-top that they have managed to make the digital lock rules look tame by comparison (which may have been the intent). For Canadian concerned with copyright and the Internet, this really is the final call as the bill will go to clause-by-clause review next week.  Tell your MP and members of the C-11 committee to reject the industry’s extreme demands and to ensure that the bill is balanced by adding the Canadian Library Association’s suggested technical amendment to digital locks.


  1. pat donovan says:

    fair comment gets smothered. (yer a chil-molesting terrorist!)

    due process killed off at the bird-call level. (we own everything!)

    like streaming software (torrents. AND from what i see, security software/blockers, etc) it MIGHT be used by evil-doers. Only the offical version is legal

    your phone is stalking you. (and selling your but to the highest bidder)

    at east canada is ahead of the world in jacking up prices (It’s FAR w-easier to sell one at a million than a million at 1$)

    s’mothering re-run world should be next. (public domain)


  2. Download yer crypto while ye may. Storm’s a brewin’.
    It’s almost like they want a real recession or something.

    People don’t buy computers to rest their mug on.

  3. So if we want to contact the committee…
    Do we send an email to all the people listed to to the Clerk?

  4. Ok I’m ok with it as long as we are allowed vigilantism in there for cases where the media companies are proven wrong. Take down my site and when you are proven wrong I get to knock down your door and kick your head in. Fairly simple compromise.

    If you are going to have an iPod tax you might as well throw in a hard drive tax since all those songs usually are first stored/downloaded onto a pc. You can’t have a ipod tax and not tax the hard drives.

  5. WOW
    That’s all I can say. The music industry truly has no idea just how out-of-touch they are. With a corporate-friendly, majority government, and a public, already sick of scandals, who is not paying any attention, I suppose the sky really is the limit.

  6. This question remains disturbingly unanswered….

    What assurances will a private individual, or a small corporation, have that a much larger one will not abuse this to get a small website blocked, simply because it offers something that legally competes with them, or simply has something on their website they do not like? How much independent research into whether or not an alleged website is *actually* infringing will actually be done before they are effectively removed from the ‘net? Even if there is infringement, the infringement might be done by a single person who is using the website as a service, and the maintainer of the website has not had the ability to individually police each and every item of content that its users post. While I make no excuses for such infringement, of course, a legitimate service being shut down entirely due to the actions of individuals that are abusing the service in the first place, and who simply have not yet had their accounts suspended or terminated due to TOS violations, is grossly unfair. Even so, bearing in mind that a small company or private individual is unlikely to be able to afford the necessary legions of lawyers they might need to defend themselves fairly in court, and so the fact that they may not have really been doing anything wrong, or may have been able to more cost-effectively deal with the situation if they had been notified of it adequately and given sufficient time to respond, may not even ever get out. Even if it does… what will the large company have lost by this action? Unless the private individual can demonstrably show some amount of substantial lost income arising from their period that they were shut down, the larger company would effectively be free to do this to whomever they wish, as long as the smaller companies are inadequately prepared to defend themselves. Without some significant penalty for any wrongful accusation there is no disincentive for companies to actively avoid wrongful accusation against smaller organizations that they simply disagree with or do not like. To be fair, however, such a large penalty would (I think) reasonably be payable to the court, rather than to the person who was wronged by such a shutdown. The latter would not have any justifiable reason to receive any monies in excess of what their actual damages were arising from being effectively taken off the internet in such a way, assuming that there are even any that are measurable, and to award the defendant excessive amounts arbitrarily could create a situation where an individual may deliberately prepare a scheme to entice a large company to attempt to falsely accuse their own website of containing infringing content with the long-term goal of profiting from the endeavor. Nonetheless, steep penalties (more or less proportional to the size of the organization, ideally) must still exist to prevent wrongful accusation, both to discourage larger companies from using it to effectively censor anyone they have the monetary means to manipulate, as well as preventing them from depending too heavily on automated tools that may discover many hundreds or thousands of false positives, very few of whom might even try to defend themselves.

    If, in fact, the above concern is unwarranted, then what harm will it do to have such penalties in place, other than for companies to spend some reasonable effort being certain that an accused website is actually infringing, and to ensure that they had at least tried to take reasonable measures to more peacefully deal with the situation before resorting to getting them taken offline.


  8. Canadian guy says:

    They want.. but will they get is the question? I hope not!

  9. Hissy fits & Bully tears
    The media lobby groups are on run and the defensive in the last few months with the defeat of SOPA/PIPA and the crumbling of ACTA in Europe. Like any bully backed into a corner they are throwing anything they can grab against the wall hoping something will stick.

    The we have the Tories, who seem to have forgotten the art of spin and just say whatever nonsense bubbles up into their brains. Honestly, I have not seen such poor performance in quite a while, it’s embarrassing.

    This leaves us in uncharted waters were I think just about anything is possible, it is impossible to predict what such unpredictable people will do. Will the Tories rightly take this as an opportunity to court some much needed favour with the public and produce a bill that public will look on positively, or will they figure they are so mired in the mud at the moment that what’s another dirty layer?

    My hope is C-11 will take on a higher public awareness as C-30 did, we need to continue to keep up the pressure. Write your MPs, speak to your friends, letters to the editor of your local paper, twitter, support Open Media and hope that they put Vic in charge 😀

  10. $
    So when they manage to shut down the internet, how do they expect to make any money?

  11. >Question said: $So when they manage to shut down the internet, how do they expect to make any money?

    Its simple. All these companies are middle men and the internet has killed the need for middle men so to them its in the best interest to restrict internet usage and media availability through the internet. With out them controlling the distribution they are slowly loosing the artificial supply and demand. Except for terrestrial radio they no longer can control what is to be consumed.

    Its the same reason why you see very little news reporting on these bills. Yes they do report it BUT only if the majority of people already know about it, they will not report to inform people about it.

  12. I want a provision that if they take down the wrong site that these companies be 100% responsible for any revenue lost + 500% damages. Failing that I would never submit to this extortion.

    These fcks are already getting their way far too much. Let’s find some dirt on their ringleaders and expose them for anything found.

  13. Still time.

  14. ISP
    Why aren’t our Internet companies standing up for us, I surely would like to think they don’t want to criminalize their customers and shut them down from the net.

  15. @AVG_JOE
    The ISPs are the also big media companies (though not the ones we talk about most like the **AAs).
    They’d gladly go back to providing cable TV if they could.
    Shaw is still in the cable business, and Telus wants to get there with Optik, to name a few.
    The Internet is the worst thing to happen to media distributors and the best thing to happen to creators and consumers. The past won’t get out of the way.

  16. Release Date
    My guess is that Windows 8 will be released with UEFI vendor lock out on December 21st, 2012. The end is nigh!

  17. @AVG_JOE
    And I read Bill C-30 as making grassroots ISP-like activities like wireless mesh, and Tor, etc, illegal without backdoors, so the outlook for alternative networks is pretty bad too IMHO. Like I said, download some crypto while you can. So long Internet, we hardly knew you.

  18. A dark and Winding road …
    The desires of the content industry and the public have always seemed to be at odds, now apparently even to the degree of absurdity.

    As they see their grasp on legislator’s tailcoats beginning to tear, they are manically grabbing at whatever they can … sad really. What would be really sad though would be for people and to stand by and do nothing and let these flailings take hold.

    Caveat to creators: The above may not sound very compassionate, but not so. I honestly hold that the overreaching antics of the ‘professional’ advocacy groups does more to harm your position than help. By disfranchising your audiences with such unfair and retributive attitudes they are just shooting themselves in both feet. When an atmosphere of mutual respect returns, and that will require flexibility from both sides, new relationships can be formed on realistic expectations.

    This includes you being paid while having greater personal control over your works, and customers having the freedom to use their purchases as they wish. Using simple and modern distribution systems unencumbered by high overhead contractual obligations, there will be a greater number of works available at less cost delivering more profit. When that takes place, piracy will diminish to negligible levels and a much healthier marketplace will emerge.

    Call me a foolish optimist, but that’s how I see it. The road your representatives are trying to take us down is a much darker one indeed.

  19. I’ll say it again…
    This is insanity at it’s worst. I never thought that my country would be subject to this…

    How do these people expect to sell any music, or have anyone buy their music, if everyone is incarcerated, or sued into poverty.

    What kind of end game is this? What do they want from us?

  20. It’s just not fair…
    I’m afraid that there is no hope anymore… people will have no more freedom and no more internet. I’m afraid what it will be like when his bill passes. Is there anything that we can do to stop this? It just seems that everybody is giving up and the Music Industry will have their way…
    If this happens, I’m afraid that I’ll have to stay off the internet altogether, in order to avoid prosecution.
    Does anyone else feel the same way as I do? 🙁

  21. Ones I can remember straight offhand are and, see for yourself, whois them. Being redirected by Verislime gtld servers.

    Verisign just rolled over and no longer should be governing gtld on any domains at all.

    ICANN as usual is staying silent, other than their one response that “we do not shutdown any websites”.

  22. CndCitizen says:

    Remember the Hunger Games
    This strikes me a funny, been reading the books and Histler is doing the same thing as President Snow and seperating, inventing and then coming up with corporate bills to help his friends keep the wild life of not working (much) and enjoying the labours of others work….I think these corporate sponsors to Harper should be identified and held accountable to what they are paying him and his cabinet to pass these un-canadian laws as possible….

    It is like his mantra is….I don’t care what the law is, just make sure the US is happy….wasn’t that what he said during the last discussions on this….I wonder if he really has our best interest at stake or is he just another politician that is looking for a lobbying job with on of the mdia companies once he is ejected from office….wish he was in Prison.

  23. No More Music says:

    Thanks to the actions of the Canadian Music Publishers Association, I will never, ever listen to Candain music ever again.

    it’s now tainted to me, it’s the sound, of the end, of internet freedom.

  24. it was my understanding that since the blank media levy obstensibly pays for the damage caused by piracy, piracy is therefore at least somewhat legitimized. I had thought that this argument was succesfully used in the past to block copyright reform like those being sought.

    I know that there have been arguments to extend the levy to iPod’s or even computers in general. So wouldn’t that mean that if they DID extend the levy to cover those systems, would piracy be effectively legal in Canada, since we’d all pay for the right to pirate through this levy? So doesn’t the inclusion of that provision render the rest of their points about copy protection somewhat moot?

    I know that it is arguable how effective that system is, and asking for the recording industry to have sound logic may be a little much, but couldn’t one make this argument? I’m not saying we should, and I have issues with a lot of other things they’re demanding, but I’m really confused by this one. Do they just want their cake and want to eat it too?

  25. No More Music said: “Thanks to the actions of the Canadian Music Publishers Association, I will never, ever listen to Candain music ever again.”

    I did this years ago when I was burned a few times with DRM on locked CDs, including the, now infamous, Sony rootkit. Yes, easy to crack the DRM, but it was altogether insulting to me at the time. …especially considering we already pay a private copying levy in Canada for the right to copy our own CDs. Even to the day they closed, had DRM protected content on their site.

    Depending on what you’re in to, Europe has a far superior music scene, in my opinion. Just search YouTube, it’s easy to find stuff.

    Canoe76 said: “Like I said, download some crypto while you can. So long Internet, we hardly knew you.”

    Another option is to buy space on a server in more Internet-friendly countries such as The Netherlands or The Ukraine. I download everything to there, even huge things, such as Linux distributions. Then I secure FTP (SFTP) it to home. I’ll be damned if I make it easy for them to track my activities.

  26. Anthony Tadayoshi says:

    What’s next?
    The internet has the potential to save lives, to put food on our tables, and to entertain us when we are bored. The government is trying to take that all away from us. What do you think the reaction would be if the government succeeded? Would street riots occur like it did in Vancouver B.C.? or would we take it to Ottawa at parliament hall? We should prepare for the next step, because after they take our internet, our lives will be next. Our government no longer represents us, we must prepare for a strong retaliation and take back what is ours by force.

  27. Mantissa128 says:

    Our New Anthem
    O Canada!
    Our iPod-levied land!
    True corporate love in all thy shills command
    With glowing screens we pay thee tithes,
    No music shall be free!
    From far and wide,
    CMPA, we bend over for thee.
    God help us all, this horrific levy
    CMPA, we bend over for thee.
    CMPA, we bend over for thee.

  28. Would street riots occur like it did in Vancouver B.C.?
    HA…if only we could get Canadians so riled up. Only hockey and truly insulting statements (Such as Vic Toews child pronographers statement) can get Canadians riled up. They will pass it and most Canadians will just bitch about it while sitting around a coffee at Tim Horton’s. It’s under-reported and is generally poorly understood by the general public. Personally, I think C-11 will be a disastrous, ineffective and expensive failure, much like the DMCA in the US. Like with the crime bill, our government is so hell-bent on it’s own agenda that they’re blindly and willfully ignoring the advice of ALL subject matter experts and passing bill which have very little public support. The only answer is, that contrary to all common sense, they’re simply doing what their American task-masters are telling them to do, like obedient little lap-dogs.

  29. What is this? I don’t even…
    I’m massively in debt from university. I can barely afford food! How the hell am I supposed to kick my feet up? I work too hard for this to happen. I can’t afford hundreds of dollars of movies, thousands of dollars for CDs where I won’t listen to half of the tracks.
    The music and movie industry already earn millions of dollars for their artists, and even if the artists donate, it goes to the homeless, or the ill, or to other countries for aid.
    People like I am are the written-off lower class. I can’t afford to live here, nor can I afford to move away. It’s a catch 22 for most young adults.
    This is destroy most of our social world. It’ll disassemble a lot of viable resources, sharing programs (not even just media… we use DropBox in my classes all the time), and even just ways of talking globally. Youth morale will dissipate if this happens. We don’t want our government to watch us. This is madness.