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Translation from PR-Speak to English of Selected Portions of "An Act to Amend the Copyright Act"
From: "Ministers Prentice and Verner" <Minister.Industry@ic.gc.ca>
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
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
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
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,
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
- 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
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
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
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
Bill C-61 was introduced in the Commons on June 12, 2008 by
Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée
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
Yeah, I've already e-mailed my MP.
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.
What the hell is the point of us having an MP if telling them we don't like a proposed legislation is useless?
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.
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!
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.
Thanks. I think.
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.
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.
In the spirit of completely ineffectual but incredibly fun activism, there should probably be "It's cool, I'm a security researcher" buttons.
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.
Here is a good form letter.
I also included a paragraph about the dangers of 'orphaned' DRM, such as Google Video and Microsoft's PlayForSure - when the companies providing the DRM stopped providing the service, the DRMed content stopped working, and the proposed legislation would leave no recourse whatsoever for consumers to access legitimately purchased content.
Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. So disappointing.
Well, I'm off to e-mail jerkface Emerson. Not that he'll do anything.