The Government’s “10,000 Consultations” on Copyright

Last week’s House of Commons copyright debate on Bill C-11 included a curious comment from Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who, in trying to demonstrate the amount of debate that went into the bill, stated that “more than 10,000 consultations have been held across Canada.” The “10,000 consultations” claim made it onto the Hill Times front page article on the bill titled “House Set to Pass Controversial Copyright Bill Next Week, After 10,000 Consultations.”

The problem with the “10,000 consultations” claim is that it isn’t entirely accurate. Paradis is likely combining the total responses to the 2009 copyright consultation (just over 8,300) with submissions or witnesses to the Bill C-32/C-11 legislative committees (roughly 300). Throw in the two town hall meetings and private meetings with stakeholders and you might come close to 10,000. However, if Paradis is relying on comments and submissions from the public to the government, the 10,000 figure massively understates the public response. During the same debate, Liberal MP Geoff Regan indicated that his office received over 80,000 emailed submissions over the past several months alone. Three weeks after the introduction of Bill C-61, Industry Canada received tens of thousands of actual letters. When you combine the additional MP meetings, thousands of letters and emails to MPs, the number of submissions on this copyright bill is at least 10 times the Paradis estimate.

More relevant is the content of those submissions. As part of the 2009 copyright consultation, opposition to the digital lock approach found in Bill C-61 was the number one issue, yet the government rejected the views of thousands of Canadians who called for a more balanced, flexible approach. Similarly, the Bill C-32/C-11 committee consistently heard from business groups, creator associations, consumer groups, and education representatives, who all opposed the digital lock approach in the bill. More recently, Regan told the House of Commons that the most of the 80,000 emailed submissions also opposed the digital lock approach.

Given the consistent opposition to the digital lock approach, both the NDP and Liberals proposed numerous amendments to the digital lock rules, all of which were defeated. Those were followed by further digital lock amendments proposed by the Green Party’s Elizabeth May, which were also defeated.

Paradis and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore (who in the same Hill Times article is quoted as inaccurately saying that Canadian copyright has not been changed for 22 years) may point to the large number of Canadians that participated in the copyright debate over the past few years, but it is more accurate to acknowledge the large number of Canadians whose views the government rejected in adopting a digital lock approach in which the voice of one consultation – that with the United States – proved more influential than anything tens of thousands of Canadians had to say.


  1. Anonymous says:

    And almost all of them said the same things
    1-Don’t break the Internet
    2-Don’t “update” the old media’s monopolies
    3-Don’t criminalize things everybody does
    4-Don’t waste money on a war you can’t win
    5-Copyright doesn’t work on the Internet:
    5a. Everything is automatically “copyrighted”
    5b. All creativity copies off something else
    5c. Therefore, copyright is anti-creativity, unless the old media monopolies collaborate and “license” culture only among themselves, which they will, if only to turn the web back into a form of television where the rich & powerful control the popular opinion.

  2. Josh Nylon says:

    So now all that is left is to protest with our votes
    I used to be a strong conservative supporter. They lost my vote in the last election and will continue to lose my vote in future elections in large part because of the way they handled this bill. They are acting like puppets with the US holding the strings. Hopefully more and more Canadians will wake up to this issue and vote these guys out, even if it means a few more years of Liberal shenanigans.

  3. Jeff Voskamp says:

    “10000 consultations” is the number that agreed with them.

    For some definition of agreed.

    Rounded up to the next 10000.

  4. James Plotkin says:

    politicking…what else is new.

  5. And of those “10000”, a staggering majority of them were very strongly opposed to the notion that digital locks should have legal protection against copying that would have otherwise been considered fair dealing (in fact, many were opposed to any sort of legal protection for digital locks under any circumstances).

    Ayup…. that’s democracy for you.

  6. Next steps
    Ok, it’s obvious that that Harper Majority does not want to make any changes to C-11. Of course you have to you, but there’s nothing anyone can do.

    So what’s next? There will be elections again. At that point, we need to make sure that the broad issue of copyrights and digital freedoms and privacy is firmly on the political agenda.

    Then there’s still the ratification of ACTA, the whole TPP Agreement process, etc. eating away at out freedoms from every possible angle.

  7. We held 10,000 consultations, and ignored the consensus at each of them!

  8. Time To Clean House
    Harper his Cons should be viewed no differently than organized crime. They need to all be arrested and charged with each others’ crimes.

  9. ..
    So that’s that.. we’re not do anything about it,will be passed for sure next week and we’re just going to take it up the ass no fight anymore? CANADIANS WAKE DA F*CK UP I KNOW IT’S NICE OUTSIDE AND ALL BETTER THING TO DO BUT WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

  10. Crockett says:

    @Byte “Next steps …”

    There is the possibility of there being a constitutional challenge on digital locks as it, by the government’s own admission, go above and beyond the requirements of international agreements as well as infringing on provincial property rights jurisdiction.

  11. Goodguy: without breaking the law, what do you suggest?

    It’s too late… we wrote letters. We encouraged our friends and family to do likewise. We educated people who didn’t know about it. We opposed this every step of the way. We were ignored. The fight is lost already.

    The question to be asking now is what non-conservative representatives intend to do about it once the Harper majority has ended.

  12. With bill C-11 passed will uploading sites be illegal, would I get caught downloading from like rapidshare?

  13. Waste
    I did feel involved, submitting my opinion. Their plan worked — a waste of time and money that made me feel consulted.
    John, C-11 tries to prevent people from legally backing-up their copyrighted content, making it harder to share (and extra illegal). If you download copyrighted content now, you can already be caught. C-30 would have had your internet provider watching and reporting you without a warrant. Technically this paragraph is “wrong” since it’s much more complex, but there you go.

  14. i have a question about downloading movies and music via bittorent.

    There is a fine of 500 dollars for downloading and 10,000 for uploading.

    When they say fine, do they mean the government will fine you and you have to go to court and if you don’t have money you go to jail?

    or does it mean

    does it mean copyright holders can sue you for the amounts above?

    or both?

    are they any restrictions on using vpns?


  15. Bills c-11 and c-30 on their own are terrible. In combination, they are a disaster. Big content is doing everything they can to bully IPSs and all levels of government into “protecting their content”. I am completely dismayed that the harper government is spouting this nonsense that all of this is reasonable and balanced. One can only imagine that the spying capability will be used 99% of the time to capture copyright violators, not to catch sexual predators, scam artists or terrorists. For them to shut down the long-gun registry because it was a waste of money was a good thing IMO, but for them to be advocating handing control of the internet over to big content is as bad as it could be. We will have to pay more for our internet to fund the ISPs to spy on us on behalf of big content. What is this world coming to? Time for a VPN.

  16. Sharing unauthorized copies of movies and music when one had no permission from the copyright holder to copy the work for nonpersonal use has always been illegal, and C11 does not alter that. On the matter of Bittorrent, it is explicitly designed to transfer content in both directions, so that when you are downloading, you are generally also uploading to other downloaders (this is what makes the protocol so effective at distributing large data files).

    The key problem with C-11 is the digital lock anticircumvention provisions that it incorporates. If you break a lock on digital content without permission from the copyright holder, even if only to make a copy for your own use (such as, for example, format shifting a movie to a tablet that the copyright holder didn’t know about, or perhaps hadn’t even been invented when the work was released), then one will be in violation of the law. Of course, the conservatives have said that people won’t be held accountable for such “personal use” lockbreaking, but such acts will evidently still be illegal, and it will be illegal to acquire the tools to accomplish such acts.

  17. Harper and the rest of the conservatives need to go bye bye.
    I really want to get rid of this Government, there has been more laws passed, alot that werent needed since Stephen Harper became Prime Minister and his Gang of Misfit Politicians took over as our Government, more so now since they got their Majority. I am a computer technician for one, Bill C-11 would not benefit me at all, as I make back ups of Software in case I need them down the road as CD/DVD’s do scratched up and stop working from it. There is other things I do that alot of Canadians also take for granted right now, and I am sick of mine and others rights being taken away because of greedy Corporations like the music and movie Industry.

    I dont want my rights taken away and I am sure noone else does either, they also have no right to give law enforcement or other agencies the right to go into our emails without a Warrant, I have a right to privacy just like everyone else, so unless we actually do something illegal, leave our personal emails and whatnot alone. Also by doing this, they would have to update the Privacy act not just put it in Bill C-11, by not doing it, the police or other agencies would infact be breaking the law without a Warrant.

    One other thing though, even though they are updating the definition on Copyright, they arent updating the definition of Stealing/Theft under the criminal Code, so technically, if you download a movie or music file in Canada, even though under the proposed copyright act, you are stealing, well if thats the case, you technically arent, as the Definition of Stealing/theft hasnt been updated and wont be. I have a friend that teaches Law in the university of Calgary, and he even thinks that this is a good point, so if someone was to get caught downloading a movie for instance, find a lawyer and take it to court, cause you would probably win, and the government would look Stupid in the eyes of Canadians, as it is a Valid point.

    We all need to get rid of the Harper government, as they are taking away alot of our rights and will continue to do so if something isnt done about it ASAP, it is Called the POWER OF THE PEOPLE, lets all stand up and force them out and get a new vote going.

  18. Mark thanks for stating the obvious, but i already know how bitorent works and the legality. My question was about the fines. civil or criminal?

  19. Definitely need to change out the government
    These people Need to go back to america and stop trying to change Canada, Stephen Harper the most why would you leave your country to go run another one and turn it into the country you just came from, maybe it is because they would except you into office the states. Ethier way GTFO

  20. I wonder what our forefathers would say & think if they could look up from their graves, and see all the freedoms they fought and died for in the wars being frittered and taken away one piece at a time by these idiot politicians on BOTH sides of the border?

    Power hungry corrupt governments wanting full and absolute control of the people.

  21. I’m unsure if C-11 changes the criminal penalties for copyright infringement, but copyright infringement has always been a criminal act where both civil and criminal penalties may be applied. I believe the amounts specified in C-11 are with respect to civil penalties only. Whether or not one could convincingly argue that copyright infringement isn’t stealing would not change the notion that copyright infringement itself is still considered a criminal act, and thus criminal penalties can still apply.

    Also, I wasn’t suggesting that bittorrent itself is illegal… I was only saying that bittorrent uploads as well as downloads. Bittorrent is simply an efficient file transfer protocol, which because it uploads to other downloaders while one downloads, is particularly effective at distributing any large amount of data. The only reason that the most popular use of it happens to be to distribute unauthorized copies of copyrighted works right now is because, at least at the present time, such works are simply the most common types of data that takes up such a large amount of space. But really, for any large quantity of data to be transferred, in cases where it does not matter who is receiving the content or who is sending it (ie, when the point is to efficiently distribute the content to as many people as possible, and not to attempt to strictly control or limit who receives it), bittorrent makes a whole lot of sense (and why it is sometimes used to distribute updates for certain types of software, for example).

  22. It’s all a ploy and they have no intention to enforce it. They will update the digital locks provision to be more balanced toward the end of their 4 years, look like heroes since Canadians have notoriously short memories, and get elected for another majority.

  23. Mark I agree bittorent is the best choice to share large legal files like Linux distributions and other open source programs.