The MPAA’s Secret Lobby Campaign on Bill C-11 and a Canadian SOPA

Over the past few years, the Motion Picture Association – Canada, the Canadian arm of the MPAA, has recorded nearly 100 meetings with government ministers, MPs, and senior officials. While their lobbying effort will not come as a surprise, last October there were several meetings that fell outside the norm. On October 18, 2011, MPA-Canada reports meeting with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, Foreign Minister John Baird, and Industry Canada Senior Associate Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy, all on the same day. These meetings occured less than three weeks after the introduction of Bill C-11 and the decision to sign ACTA, and only eight days before SOPA was launched in the U.S.

To get a sense of how rare these meeting were, this is the only registered meeting John Baird has had on intellectual property since Bill C-11 was introduced and ACTA was signed by Canada. Similarly, since the introduction of Bill C-11, James Moore has only two intellectual property meetings listed – this one with MPA-Canada and one in March 2012 with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (in fact, Moore had only three meetings on intellectual property in all of 2011. Those meetings were with MPA-Canada, the Canadian Recording Industry Association, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce). Even the Simon Kennedy meeting was a rarity as he has had multiple meetings with pharmaceutical companies, but only two (MPA-Canada and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives) that appear to have included copyright.

Given how unusual it is for a single lobby group to gain access to two of Canada’s leading cabinet ministers and a senior department official on the same day, it begs the question of how they did it.

The answer does not come from the official Communication Report Summaries, which only list MPA-Canada Executive Director Wendy Noss. Rather, it comes from documents I recently obtained under the Access to Information Act that reveal the meeting was actually led by the head of the MPAA, former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (the fact that the law does not require this to be disclosed highlights a major shortcoming in the Lobbying Act).

On September 20, 2011, MPA-Canada wrote to Industry Minister Christian Paradis (and presumably to Baird and Moore) to request meetings with Dodd. Dodd was not permitted to directly lobby U.S. politicians due to a cooling off period, but faced no such restriction in Canada. The briefing note prepared for the meeting provides the strong sense that the government was already ready to cave on issues such as toughening the Bill C-11 enabler provision, which was characterized as a technical amendment. Anticipating MPAA demands for new rules for Internet providers, the note argues that C-11 strikes the right balance. Although the full content of the meeting is not known, given the discussion surrounding ACTA and SOPA/PIPA at the time, there seems likely that Dodd used the unparalleled access to push for SOPA-style amendments within Bill C-11, major changes to the enabler provision and ISP liability, and quick implementation of ACTA (the meeting with Baird in particular was presumably focused on ACTA, CETA, and the TPP).

The Canadian government’s decision to reject the near-universal criticism of the C-11 digital lock approach has long been linked to pressure from the U.S. government and U.S. lobby groups. With the MPAA secretly bringing Dodd to Ottawa to lobby some of Canada’s highest ranking politicians within weeks of the introduction of the bill, the full scale of the lobbying pressure becomes increasingly apparent. Ministers were willing to meet with the top U.S. copyright lobby group, but not with Canadian creator, consumer, or education groups who offered a much different perspective on legislative reform.


  1. Amazing
    I find this pretty outrageous. These on-going issues surrounding the various copyright/IP legislations, and this latest budget fiasco seems overly undemocratic to me.

    Is there anything as a consumer/citizen that I am able to do (beyond simply waiting for my next opportunity to vote)? My feeling is that that average consumer/citizen doesn’t care enough about these issues. Given this, I wonder if there is an opportunity for some kind of legal challenge?

    I read this morning that in order to ensure that the budget passes, conservatives are rotating in and out of the voting in 30-minute sessions; leaving enough in to ensure that the amendments get voted down. And, it suggested that the amendments aren’t being considered/reviewed.. that all are largely being ignored.

    I feel like this is an affront to my right to representation. I do have that right don’t I?

    Maybe this isn’t the best forum for this kind of question, but given Mr. Geist’s consumer advocacy and the nature of this community, I thought it’d be worth asking here.

  2. Wow
    That is absolutely frightening.

    I sleep a little better at night knowing that people like you exist in the world, who are truly dedicated to bringing more transparency to government. This type of backdoor lobbying by the US (and other countries–China being a potentially bigger threat than the US) really needs to be in the public’s eye. We need more laws that prohibit ‘conflict of interest’ scenarios by politicians, and force them to focus on actually governing our country instead of being bribed in to passing bills that only benefit the lobby groups.

    It’s frustrating to see that Canada is in this bad of shape when it comes to lobbying, but again, thanks to people like you, we’re slowly getting more transparency in this issue, and it is GREATLY appreciated. Keep up the fantastic work!


  3. Laurel L. Russwurm says:

    What Happened To Canadian Sovereignty
    Because the mainstream media is not covering this properly, most Canadians still don’t understand Bill C-11. None of the Canadians who do understand it (beyond the few that expect to profit by C-11) support this bill.

    If Canada’s laws are going to be written by another country, there is zero government accountability for Canadians.

    Tell everyone you know to write, call and/or email their elected representative.

  4. Chris Dodd?
    All the copyright maximalists (and some MP’s sadly) on Twitter always attack or block anyone that are opposed to C-11 and digital locks.

    Its news like this as to why so many people are against C-11 in general.

    Chris Dodd? Yeah, as if we needed more proof of US influence/corruption on Canadian legislation………

    These bastards need removed from office.

  5. ….
    We’re screwed!

  6. Oh really?
    The Conservative’s argument to go to war against Eco-protection groups(who are against oil sands for instance) is because they are either founded or controlled by foreign interests… and the MPA-C (and MPAA) are founded and controlled by foreign interest.

    Is it me, or is this Conservative gouverement totally incapable of being actually coherent in their decisions, and only choose a path according to what US based corporation wants? (instead of obeying the will of Canadians)…

  7. Treason?
    I have to wonder if the actions of our elected officials could be classified as treason? I believe that they should be held personally accountable for their actions, expecially when considering the repercussions…

  8. davegravy says:

    A Front
    I don’t understand why there’s so much surprise surrounding this.

    Since when has the existence of an imaginary line distinguishing two countries kept those on the one side who want power from taking it on the other side. We still have the warlords from 13th century Europe, vying for control of territory. They’re just called CEOs and politians now.

    We charge our government with protecting us from their attacks, but when they become complicit in them, it’s up to We the People to take our country back.

  9. Grammar
    Re: ‘Given how unusual it is for a single lobby group to gain access to two of Canada’s leading cabinet ministers and a senior department official on the same day, it begs the question of how they did it.’

    It raises the question, it doesn’t beg it! Sorry – taking a course in philosophy ATM.

    Regarding the question raised, I suspect that there is a fundamental failure of understanding at root here, related to a false intuition over the nature of what property is. Countering this requires a very different experience base: one where common-law rights make sense through persistent exposure. The game that politicians are playing is one involving chips that represent units of power, so that consumers ‘belong’ to an organisation, rather than that organisation’s produce being for the good of the people at large.

  10. I wonder what public reaction would be if the entire opposition were to walk out of parliament over this, and the multitude of other questionable actions being done in the name of national leadership.

    re:Treason – I have to admit that I wondered about the political definition in Canada, of the word treason, as well, but it felt a bit presumptuous to propose it, yet. As near as I can tell, the Conservatives are doing exactly what they said they’d do.

    Personally, I think this should be a good example of how the Canadian election system no longer serves us; in my mind, it is time for us to move up to proportional representation, like the Swedes or Dutch practice. I mean, really, 39.6% vote of 61.1% turnout is 24.2% of the eligible vote. How *any* party can gain a majority on such an absurdly low number is beyond me. The real question is, though, will any of the big four actually stand up and make proportional representation a priority? I’ll believe it when I hear it on the campaign trail.

    While I’m not even remotely surprised by this piece of news (honestly, haven’t those of us paying some attention just assumed this was happening?), of greater concern to me are the people who are already claiming the need to “take up arms”, or promoting some other violent reaction, to this agenda. It seems to be a theme cropping up on various open internet forums I haunt, it is disconcerting to think that a group of people in Canada (or/and the USA) believes militant action, at this stage of the political circumstance, would have a positive effect on our society, or yield a better democracy.

  11. @Danux
    I agree about the prematureness of militant action. On the other hand, revolution is usually long overdue by the time it begins, and who knows how we’ll view, in hindsight, this moment in time.

  12. How much is too little?
    I am in Kenya at the moment. I had an interesting conversation on the plane going to Mombasa, the man sitting beside me asked where i was from, I said Canad. He asked if corruption was a problem in my country . It’s nowhere near the problem you have here, but that’s no excuse. Your example here give evidence that little corruption leads to so much more

  13. Just been reading Twitter this morning and it totally disgusts me what I see.
    I can count at least 4 government officials that are spewing the same exact propaganda that comes out of the CRIA/MPAC.

    Could they not make it more obvious who’s in bed with who? I’m talking about Clement, Moore, Armstrong and Paradis.

    I’m ashamed to be Canadian. Balanced Canadian made bill my ass. Get these idiots out of office!

  14. .,.,.,.,.
    With C-11 passing I still don’t understand how Divx players will be illegal, I didn’t hear anything about that from this bill?

  15. CommieCowboy says:

    Politicians should be required to make the details of lobbying meetings public unless an issue pertaining to national security is involved. In this case, John Baird and James Moore should release exactly what transpired at their meetings with American lobbyists or resign their seats. If you disagree, you are a Conservative shill, a worthless human being, a traitor, and unworthy of living in this country.

  16. If the US blacklisted Canada for not having strong enough intellectual property laws and wouldn’t distribute their music and movies through us, does that mean that we would finally have to make our own?

    Canadian content laws have always been parochial and embarrassing, but backing away from the US insane copyright regime may be the best thing that ever happened to Canadian artists and creators. Our cultural industries don’t need protection, they need opportunity, and being blackballed by the MPAA/RIAA may be the one we need.

  17. Down with the PM says:

    Canada no longer
    We’ve been officially sold out to American interest. It started with the joke of a one sided agreement that is NAFTA. Now with these IP bills and the TPP, we have lost our sovereignty over our natural resources (we’ve sold off our lumber, our oil, and our WATER to the states) as well as our intellectual properties. IP law ONLY favours those who have the money to litigate. For everyone else, it is more poisonous than helpful.

    No startup can afford to litigate when someone violates their patent and/or copyright. Especially if that violation comes at the hands of a well established mega corporation.

    We are screwed, fellow Canadians. Anyone who thinks it “isn’t that bad yet” is completely naive and dangerously ignorant. This problem is even greater in scope than we the public have heard yet.

    Come back to this article in two years. You will WISH things were only “this bad”.

    RIP everything that separated Canada from the states.

  18. Ehud Gavron says:

    Begging the question
    Go look it up. Begging the question doesn’t mean what you think it does. It’s not “this makes us have to ask the question” or “but this brings up the question.”



  19. Canada is Corrupted says:

    Why did the US blacklisted Canada? Because Industry Canada asked then to do it.–leaks-show-u-s-swayed-canada-on-copyright-bill?bn=1 []

    A U.S. Embassy cable written in April 2009 describes a meeting between Zoe Addington, director of policy for then industry minister Clement, and U.S. officials.

    “In contrast to the messages from other Canadian officials, she said that if Canada is elevated to the Special 301 Priority Watch List (PWL), it would not hamper — and might even help — the government of Canada’s) ability to enact copyright legislation,” the cable says.

    Days later, Canada was elevated on the piracy watch list.

  20. eh
    I’m all confused and lost all hope.

  21. Mr.
    Michael, you need a facebook, twitter, etc share button. I can post this on facebook for you if I had a button. I know I can cut and paste the link into facebook, but I am lazy.

    You are doing an awesome job Michael, dont stop buddy!!

  22. Dealing with foreign lobbyists
    Dealing with foreign lobbyists should be added to the list of actions covered under “treason” or “high treason”.

  23. What does this mean?
    Will watching Youtube, land us in jail now? Will simply using the internet, make us all criminals?

    I’m confused, and I’m scared…I’ve done nothing wrong.

  24. michael B says:

    A wise man once said, “The only good Tory is a supposi-Tory….at least they serve a purpose!

  25. It’s a shame. I would expect any politician who really wants to represent his constituents would invite members of the public to attend these meetings in order to provide an opportunity for the people to voice their opinions on the matter.

  26. What, I wonder, is the Conservative’s response to this discovery?

    I recall very vividly that they were positively asserting that their new bill of which they were so proud was a “Made in Canada” solution.

  27. @Ehud
    As you are probably aware, language is a living thing. “That begs the question” is short, and conveys both the necessity and the obviousness of the question being asked. That the expression was previously used by philosophers to mean something in their area of expertise is irrelevant. Does that make us pirates? Oops. Did I say pirates?

  28. Undoing the C-11 Damage
    What is very important is to get all opposition parties to announce that they will undo most of the damage done by C-11 as soon as they are able to.

    This is vital to let stakeholders know that C-11 is not set in stone, and any business decisions they make based on C-11 they do at their own peril.

  29. Anonymous Coward says:

    Cancel Your Internet Connection Day??
    This legislation will fundamentally change the nature of my service contract with my internet provider. I know that the when I hear that this bill has passed i will be canceling my connection to the interweb and will I also encourage everybody I know to do the same.

  30. The MPAA’s Secret Lobby Campaign on Bill C-11 and a Canadian SOPA

  31. the stick is hidden in Bill C-30
    I am convinced that section 33 of Bill C-30 (the not dead surveillance one) is for the MPAA and friends to police our Internet use. It allows _anyone_ designated by the Minister to watch what we do, and you know the MPAA will be first in line to get designated. C-11 criminalizes what we do, and C-30 will give the copyright industry the tools to drag us into court.

  32. @Anonymous Coward
    Yeah, if this passes, I’ll definitely be re-evaluating my connectivity options. I can stay in touch with friends the old fashioned way, and I can use work’s connection in a pinch, but frankly I don’t need the distraction if it’s just going to become a noose. I’m thinking about linking some wireless networks with my friends.

  33. person
    I am a US citizen & I am coming to despise the USA gvt (both corporatist DEMS & Fascist Reps) for our international bullying. The cowboy attitude was supposed to go away when the criminal Bush was out of office. LOL!

  34. Anonymous says:

    The United States Empire needs to fall
    It is kind of sad that they have to resort to this crap, first they attack a country that never had any WMD then they try and bully our own. Screw them. The truth is at this point I don’t give a damn if China takes over the world, it will probably be better then what the USA has done.

  35. I am not amused by Special Interest Groups or Lobbyists! says:

    Being a Special Interest Group Lobbyists should be made Illegal – Make Politicians Accountable
    We give the government Billions of Dollars a year, which in part pays all the politicians they earned wages. Giving Special interest groups the “right to spend” their power, influence and interests to corrupt the minds and actions of politicians who should be minding the concerns and interests of their voters is… well, insane…

    When the RIAA and MPAA expect a different result with the same, repetitive bills, one after another, they must be insane too…

    I forget which US Supreme Court Judge said, in essence, “Why would you think it is a good idea to try to make your prospective clients criminals?” It just shows how inept and out of date the movie and music industries are…

    I want another elections, and a better opposition to Harper. Since he’s there, he’s been pulling our canada backward.

    ATM, this is not democracy, NPD can’t do shit about what’s happening.

    I want a democracy, not another state of the united fags…seriously.

  37. Doug Horne says:

    Heck, I assumed right from the beginning that this is how things were proceeding … this entire business stuck of the MPAA from day one. The only good thing is that this group constantly advocates rules that are completely unworkable and just serve to make their customers hate them even more. They are, however, slowly succeeding in turning the internet into a device for giving you what they want to give you, at the price that they want to charge …

  38. Elizabeth Sullivan says:

    The Con-artists continue to do what they do best, COWERING to the Yanks.

  39. Conservatives = Treason
    Why are we surprised?

    The Conservatives have a history of selling us out that goes as far back as the Avro Arrow affair.

    Conservatives = Treason

  40. Gavin Godby says:

    Editor Old Strathcona Times
    Hmm… why am I not surprised. Given the covert agenda of the current government to implement the neocon agenda this all makes sense. Apparently we need more monitoring, less freedom, more guns and more jails in Canada.

  41. John Smith says:

    Time to move out?
    Canada is now almost the image of communism/capitalism, and not the good kind

  42. Jack Robinson says:

    Digital Locks, MPAA Stocks and the Bilge C-11 Smoking Blunderbuss
    Thank you, Michael, for your tireless temerity in attempting to make palatable pretzel logic out of the serpentine machinations behind the ‘It Coulda Been Worse, kidz’ uberschmertz of Billious Bilge C-11. But given our Sexy Beast Sociopath of Sussex and his Gonzo Goonies’ penchant for cryptically-scripted bafflegab and squid ink-redacted obfusication of Devil in the Details fine print… I not only expect to suffer symptoms of rusty-nail Charter Rights lockjaw paralysis… but gettin’ jackboot busted for my local library hijacked, ripped and burned Talking Heads MP3 collection… especially for Dangerous to the Regime shit like Stop Making Sense.

  43. Democracy my Ass!
    Face it folks… The dictators in Ottawa simply wont be listening to anyone but their American Masters. Please remember this when the next election comes and they try to buy our votes with all the cuts they are making now! Democracy my Ass!

  44. @dexerdyne says:

    purveyor of fine sausage and condiments
    Thank you very much Mr Geist – FINALY someone followed the money.

    Tip of the hat sir – here is my frank magazine OpEd on bill C11 and Crown Copyright from last issue:

    Cheers and very best wishes


  45. I am disgusted with this government. As a life-long conservative, I am ashamed. I’ll be spoiling my ballot in the next election and sending it to the PM.