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Translation from PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of "An Act to Amend the Copyright Act"

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From: "Ministers Prentice and Verner" <Minister.Industry@ic.gc.ca>
To: CanadianCitizens@everywhere.com
Subject: An Act to Amend the Copyright Act
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008 13:09:06 -0400

The Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-61, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act. The proposed legislation is a made-in-Canada approach that balances the needs of Canadian consumers and copyright owners, promoting culture, innovation and competition in the digital age.

We've introduced our version of Bill C-60. We removed a bunch of the exceptions that protected consumers from legal harassment, added in a couple of media attention grabs, and made it illegal to share or even talk about the tools that would allow anyone to take advantage of the exceptions that we did leave in.

We wrote it on Canadian soil, so we qualify for the sticker.

We totally caved to the US IP lobby, and we even borrowed wording from the WIPO treaty, but this is good for Canadians! It means that more money will be invested into our knowledge economy!

What does Bill C-61 mean to Canadians?

Quit screaming at us! We're just doing a favour to some people that asked really, really nicely. And they really, really want what we're giving them, so that makes everything OK.

Specifically, it includes measures that would:

  • expressly allow you to record TV shows for later viewing; copy legally purchased music onto other devices, such as MP3 players or cell phones; make back-up copies of legally purchased books, newspapers, videocassettes and photographs onto devices you own; and limit the "statutory damages" a court could award for all private use copyright infringements;

You can do everything that you've been doing up until the mid-90s, but you can't back up your DVDs, video games or application software. Also, you're not allowed to back up anything that has any kind of DRM on it, because permitting circumvention for legal uses makes IP owners mad. You're just not allowed to break DRM, mmmkay? Unless you're a security researcher, because then you're doing it for educational purposes.

Who qualifies as a security researcher? We'll let case law figure that out! That's what it does best.

If you download music onto digital media that you've purchased, you've already payed a significant levy that filters back to the organization that represents Canadian musicians. The 2004 Finckenstein decision in BMG Canada Inc. v. John Doe may have said that paying the levy means you're allowed to download music, but we only want you to pay attention to Sexton's assertion that Finckenstein shouldn't have explicitly said that downloading music was legal.

So we're still charging you extra for the media you buy, because the CRIA lobbied good and hard through the 80s and 90s for it, but now we're making it illegal for that surcharge to actually give you any value.

We're limiting the damages to five hundred bucks per song that you download. That's just plain reasonable, of course: if you've downloaded a song, there isn't any reason for you to buy the twenty copies of the CD that you normally would have, and it's only fair to make sure that music publishers get the money they're owed. If you're uploading, though, god help you, because there aren't any limits on the damages there.

We understand what "peer-to-peer" means, but we hope that the news media doesn't, so they'll glom onto the 500 number and conveniently ignore that there's no protection here at all.

  • implement new rights and protections for copyright holders, tailored to the Internet, to encourage participation in the online economy, as well as stronger legal remedies to address Internet piracy;

We think the internet makes the marketplace difficult for companies that have a lot of money but no real idea how to compete in it. We're going to make it easy for old companies to litigate these new upstarts right out of business. They have less money, so they can't lobby as well; they can't afford as many lawyers, so we'll set a bunch of precedents that continue to reinforce aging and ailing business practices; and everyone will be happy, happy, happy!

We'll ignore the complexities of transparent redistribution, copying-vs-caching, remixing and open licenses, because those things are new and hard to understand. We'll let case law waltz through that minefield. That worked great for Australia and the US!

  • clarify the roles and responsibilities of Internet Service Providers related to the copyright content flowing over their network facilities; and

We don't want to require Canadian internet service providers to police the content that flows through their networks because Canada actually has a Privacy Commissioner. We would be hung by our eyelids and kicked until we blink. That's, um, bad for Canadians. And the marketplace. And innovation. And we like our eyelids.

We'll require ISPs to forward takedown notices to customers instead of requiring them to immediately remove the material. This may seem a little soft on violators, sure, but we still don't impose any penalties on companies that issue incorrect notices. Scattershot subpoenas and intimidation are still valid tactics!

  • provide photographers with the same rights as other creators.

Oh, and we'll throw a sop to the photographers. They've been getting boned for decades. Time to bone some other group for a while.

What Bill C-61 does not do:

  • it would not empower border agents to seize your iPod or laptop at border crossings, contrary to recent public speculation

Bill C-61 doesn't let border guards seize your digital devices, because bills are subject to parliamentary review. Instead, we'll leave that to the ACTA, which we're working on in secret. Canadians don't have to worry their pretty little heads about the international commitments that we're making on their behalf. Nobody will mind, anyhow: border crossing is such a fast, painless procedure that adding on just a little bit of intrusive searching won't hurt anyone.

What this Bill is not:

  • it is not a mirror image of U.S. copyright laws. Our Bill is made-in-Canada with different exceptions for educators, consumers and others and brings us into line with more than 60 countries including Japan, France, Germany and Australia

We are high as kites.

Bill C-61 was introduced in the Commons on June 12, 2008 by Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner.

We made this! Right here in Canada! That makes it good!

For more information, please visit the Copyright Reform Process website at www.ic.gc.ca/epic/site/crp-prda.nsf/en/home

Thank you for sharing your views on this important matter.

Our circular file welcomes your feedback.

The Honourable Jim Prentice, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Industry

The Honourable Josée Verner, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages and Minister for La Francophonie

Current Mood:
disappointed disappointed
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[User Picture]
On June 13th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC), moiread commented:
Yeah, I've already e-mailed my MP.
[User Picture]
On June 14th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC), quotation replied:
That would only actually be useful if you have a Conservative MP.
To quote MightyGodKing, "The Harper government may go ahead and make it a confidence vote, in which case Stephane Dion will likely run from his own shadow."

Only lobbying the rank-and-file Conservative MPs, as well as their corporate contributors (with your intent to boycott) can have an effect. All other votes in the house are derivative.

If you have concerns about contacting a Conservative MP that doesn't represent you, consider their tactics.

Also, visiting them is better than mailing them. And mailing them (free postage) is better than emailing them.
[User Picture]
On June 14th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC), moiread replied:
What the hell is the point of us having an MP if telling them we don't like a proposed legislation is useless?
[User Picture]
On June 14th, 2008 05:11 am (UTC), quotation replied:
I like your idealism. It's endearing.

Canadian representative democracy is just a process with inputs and outputs. You have chosen your desired outcome, and now you must choose between:
1.) Take the actions that you feel should work, or
2.) Take the actions that are likely to work.

I would love to have a more functional, rational and logical system of government, but that's a very different discussion altogether.
[User Picture]
On June 14th, 2008 05:57 am (UTC), ben_zine replied:
The functional, rational, logical thing to do when the actions you feel should work diverge significantly from the actions that are likely to work is to go meta. Work on converging the two options while working towards your original goals.

All cynicism aside, I am thankful every single day that I live in a country where this notion can even be entertained. We are all hugely privileged.

The flip side is that it is our responsibility to preserve and shore up this immense political strength. The next generation deserves no less than the freedoms and privileges we enjoy and *every* *single* *thing* that we can do to make things better.

Sending an email or a letter to one's MP is unlikely to make any difference, true, but there's so much more that we can do!
[User Picture]
On June 14th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC), quotation replied:
Hrm. In this context, "going meta" must logically mean some sort of electoral reform. There are two main movements afoot to change our system of government:
  • Changing First Past The Post, or
  • Perhaps you'd rather fight for senate reform?

    Since FPTP has now been killed by referendum, your only hope is senate reform.

    A 5-year membership in The Conservative Party of Canada is only $35, and would allow you access to change it from the inside, and help them with senate reform.
  • [User Picture]
    On June 14th, 2008 06:03 am (UTC), moiread replied:
    Thanks. I think.
    [User Picture]
    On June 14th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC), ben_zine replied:
    I don't know if emailing is going to be anywhere near sufficient. I'm generally distrustful of activism in general, and though I feel very passionately about some issues, I generally try to pull up short before appearing to be a complete loony about them.

    I'm sure Quotation will laugh at this statement.

    That said, once parliament goes out to the playground for recess next week, I'm going to make a serious effort to book some face-to-face time with my MP and have a rational conversation about this topic. I'm going to try to keep my word rate within 10% of my norm. And with Church and Turing as my witnesses, I'm going to *write*.

    Because, goddammit, we deserve better from our government than legislation that will essentially criminalize an entire generation.

    Fuck. That. Static.
    [User Picture]
    On June 14th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC), moiread replied:
    Well, I was also going to follow it up with a physical letter in a few days, once my houseguest goes home and classes are over and I get some brainpower back, but apparently that won't do any good anyway.
    [User Picture]
    On June 15th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC), ethdem replied:
    In the spirit of completely ineffectual but incredibly fun activism, there should probably be "It's cool, I'm a security researcher" buttons.
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    [User Picture]
    On June 14th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC), w1ldc47 commented:
    So for a relative noob to the copyright/writing MP scene like me, what, exactly, do we do about it? As in, what kind of wording should go into an email/letter(/both?)? Where do we get our hands on a copy of the bill, or at least a summary provided by some reliable source? What kind of salutation does an MP get? Etc.
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    [User Picture]
    On June 15th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC), th3k1d commented:
    Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. So disappointing.
    Well, I'm off to e-mail jerkface Emerson. Not that he'll do anything.
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