CRIA, now known as Music Canada, has given an Award of Appreciation to former Liberal MP Dan McTeague. I wrote about McTeague as CRIA’s Unofficial Spokesperson last February, which later escalated into competing blog posts. McTeague was defeated in the May election. CRIA also gave an award to Conservative MP […]
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Liberal MP Dan McTeague: Repeat Copyright Infringer?
The McTeague post provided the opportunity to take a closer look at his website, which reveals what may be widespread copyright infringement. Since the introduction of Bill C-32, McTeague has posted dozens of full-text articles from mainstream media organizations on his website, at times without attribution. In addition to the articles, McTeague has also reposted many photographs associated with the articles. While it is possible that McTeague has fully licensed the reproduction and posting of each article and photograph, this seems unlikely since the licences offered by many organizations do not even permit this form of reproduction. No other Liberal MP appears to have established a similar practice.
Alternatively, it is possible that McTeague believes that copying full-text articles and photographs without permission is covered by fair dealing. If so, his interpretation would extend beyond the views of virtually any education group who typically argue that a portion of an article may be posted or exceptionally a full article where the poster in engaged in criticism or review, but that a full text article without more on the open Internet would rarely constitute fair dealing (particularly when, as in this case, a paragraph and a link would suffice). Moreover, some of the articles do not provide attribution to the author and therefore would not meet the fair dealing attribution requirements. None of the photographs include attribution.
The more likely scenario is that this is a case of repeated copyright infringement under which there would be the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential statutory damages. Targeted Canadian mainstream media organizations include the Globe and Mail, Postmedia, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Press, CTV, QMI (Sun News), Hill Times, and many local news organizations.
Liberal MP Dan McTeague Emerges As Unofficial CRIA Spokesperson
Notwithstanding a clear-cut case of how Canadian law can be used today to target infringing activity (supported by some of the strongest statutory damages found anywhere in the world), Liberal MP Dan McTeague rose on a point of order during last Thursday’s Bill C-32 hearing to make the following statement:
Putting Copyright Statutory Damages In Perspective
Liberal MP Dan McTeague questioned the change, suggesting that it could send the wrong message about infringement and be viewed as a licence to steal. I disagreed with his position, pointing out that $5,000 was still enormous cost for most Canadians and that it is potential multi-million dollar liability for non-commercial file sharing that sends a bad message about Canadian justice.
I also made the point that statutory damages are relatively rare on the international scene, a point that I think is worth expanding upon. Perhaps because both Canada and the U.S. have statutory damages, many MPs might be under the mistaken impression that most countries have them. In fact, the opposite is the case.
Speaking to the Parliamentary IP Caucus
I have been critical of the Parliamentary IP Caucus, so I should be equally quick to praise where appropriate. Tonight I was invited to appear before the caucus and given two full hours to make a presentation and participate in an engaging discussion on copyright. The meeting was well attended with members from all four parties in attendance.
My powerpoint slides are posted below (the first half of the talk covered the same ground as the Copyright Myths presentation I gave a couple of weeks ago). My key messages centred on putting copyright reform in context and getting the key content issues right. From context perspective, I highlighted:
- the need to recognize both the importance and limits of copyright
- the lack of recent consultation
- how Canadian copyright law is not nearly as weak as critics suggest
- why the WIPO Internet treaties provide great flexibility in implementation
- why focusing on copyright may undermine the efforts to address commercial counterfeiting
- how there are many voices expressing concern with a Canadian DMCA approach
I was also asked about my recommendations for reform. I provided nine points: