Copyright crazies gaining steam in Canada

The lobby for US-style copyrights in Canada has gone into overdrive, recruiting a powerful Member of Parliament and turning public forums on copyright into one-sided love-fests for restrictive copyright regimes that criminalize everyday Canadians.

Dan McTeague is the Liberal MP from Pickering-Scarborough East, and he's set to become the successor to Sam Bulte, the MP who lost her job for funding her campaign to get elected and appointed Heritage Minister by lining her pockets with massive donations from the very industries she would have ended up regulating. Reliable sources tell me that he's the guy who pushed for Canada signing onto the WIPO copyright treaty in the committee's anti-counterfeiting report last year, and that any time anyone in committee mentions fair dealing and user rights, he has a complete melt-down and shouts them down.

At a recent copyright panel in Toronto, McTeague essentially read out a list of record industry talking points about Canada's supposed status as a pirate nation, characterizing infringement as theft and refusing to acknowledge user rights; saying that Canada's international reputation had been tarnished by its soft copyright laws (the World Economic Forum says that Canada's copyright system is more advanced than Japan's and the US's). and, incredibly, proposed that we should pass a law making it illegal to use the Internet to "threaten" Members of Parliament with negative publicity if we don't like their political positions.

The supposedly non-partisan Public Policy Forum is holding a major, one-sided IP symposium on Monday. Invited are the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, former head of the Canadian Motion Picture Industry Association, and other big-stick-swingers for American-style copyright disasters. But when copyright lobbyists discovered that noted copyright scholar Howard Knopf would appear on just one of the panels, they went berserk and pushed successfully to have Knopf removed, ensuring that dissenting voices would be minimized on the day.


  1. Damn, and I kinda liked McTeague. He’s always letting us know when gas prices are going to go up or down by a huge amount.

  2. Cory, When are you going to run for public office?

    We need someone who has a legit appearance in the public eye, someone who already has a large and educated following and someone who could be the person we rally behind…

    I fear for our beloved home and native land,
    we’re being sold wholesale to the lowest american bidders; 1 slice at a time :-(

    Hell, you can’t even get a decent internet connection in Ontario anymore, all of the major media companies have colluded to stifle free speech and throttle our internet connections.

    Web 2.0 in canada is rapidly de-evolving into the state of broadband in the ‘Comcast districts’, and we need a hero to save the geeks and educate the people that just don’t know enough.

    -It’s heroism calling; do you accept the charges?

  3. McTeague is a treacherous piece of work. Back in 2003, ignoring Canadian law, democratic convention, and diplomatic protocol,he organized a secret meeting with US deputy drug czar Barry Crane. The purpose was to ask for more vocal opposition from Washington regarding proposed changes to Canadian drug law that would have decriminalized marijuana. The best part was that McTeague did this in his capacity as a backbench MP. He even went as far as to provide an internal Canadian government memo which outlined weaknesses in the proposed changes. For those of you not used to a Parliamentary system, this would kind of be the same as a junior member of the House of Representatives holding a secret meeting with the Chinese government to outline flaws in US federal government fiscal policy.

  4. Dan McTeague came to my elementary school each career day. Now he has huge billboards in the next town over. Probably wants to be PM. Kind of has a car salesman vibe.

  5. I don’t know McTeague from Adam, but it sounds like I’ll be writing some more letters to MPs today.

    And I will indeed use the nefarious powers of the internet to ‘threaten’ politicians whose policy positions I dislike. It’s part of my democratic right as a Canadian citizen, just like writing a letter to my MP.

  6. If people get replies from their MPs on this issue, please consider publishing them on the Digital Copyright Canada site. We have sections so that people can look up their riding and find out what people have written about what that MP has said or done on technology policy. This includes information for opposing candidates during elections.

    As an example, Pickering – Scarborough East is Mr Dan Mcteague’s riding.

  7. Oxymoron69 (#2) Assuming you are serious, the last thing a person who wishes to “get something done” should do is run for office. I would argue that lobbying and activism from outside the system will get more done. Cory is to humble to mention it but he played a part in getting Sam Bulte unelected.

    Members of Parliament especially if they are from the governing party are totally “whipped”. They can’t even open their mouths unless the Prime Minister’s office stuffs the words in first.

    As for McTeague, at this point he is on the opposition bench. Being a critic does not always translate to cabinet minister, and the liberals need to get into power. So he is worth watching, but not an immediate threat.

  8. Wow, this is really sad news.

    Copyright laws are huge with me, but not everyone… Trying to convince family members and friends to not vote Conservative was one thing, but now we have to tell them to vote NDP. That will be neigh impossible.

    Time to write some letters.

  9. @2:

    Unfortunately we’re still stuck in the 19th century model of democracy, tying representation to geography rather than demography. Cory would have the support of a great number of Canadians, but they’re not concentrated in any one riding.

  10. What’re the connotations of meltdowns and shoutings here? If it was mentioned more than once then that’s a rather scarily oppressive amount of control for someone in the minority.

  11. McTeague’s official e-mail address, taken from his website:

    I just sent an email telling him to either do his research or stop lying, and stating that I’m voting NDP if this turns out to be Liberal policy. Everybody join in!
    Heck, send CCs to any and all other liberal MPs while you’re at it.

  12. Is McTeague also behind this?:
    “The one- to three-year sentences required under Canada’s Bill C-26 are a long way from the 10-20-year penalties common in the U.S. But critics say a mandatory minimum of any length would still harm a low-level offender imprisoned under such rules, while adding to the financial burden of the prison system, and doing little to stem the drug trade.

    “The only people these laws benefit are the politicians,” says Chrystal Weaver, a Florida accountant who has campaigned against mandatory drug penalties in her state. “People tend to vote for these things because they like politicians who are tough on crime. But the devil is in the details. Mandatory minimums don’t make sense.”

    “Canada should learn from America’s mistakes in the war on drugs and just say no to mandatory minimum sentencing,” said Julie Stewart, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums in a letter to Stephen Harper last year, after Bill C-26 was introduced. “They are not a cure-all. Instead they will create a whole new batch of problems for Canadians everywhere.”

  13. I’m the first to admit that I’m pretty ignorant on the copyright issue/s. Clearly shutting down debate and manipulating the public discourse is a bad thing. And it really irritates me that the one time I bought a song off itunes, I couldn’t listen to it on my non-apple mp3 player.

    But beyond that, I’m generally confused by most of this stuff. There are clearly extremes on either side (everything should be free vs. everything should be tightly controlled by gov’t/capitalists). But are there voices in the middle? Like, artists/writers/programmers/etc. should have a right to make a buck off of their labor, but the FBI shouldn’t knock down my door if I want to make a mix tape?

    Anywhere I can find a nice FAQ without too much dogma? At least so that I can follow the regular BoingBoing posts on the subject? Thanks.

  14. This is actually kind of sad. Before this I had never heard of McTeague. According to his Wikipedia page (which of course may not be entirely unbiased) he has got some good things done for military personnel and funding education. Looks like he has been about as effective as you can be as part of the opposition. Add to that the fact that it looks like he’s in a fairly safe district.

    Really, this guy has no need at all to kiss entertainment industry ass. So it’s tragic that he is doing it anyways.

    I’m not familiar with Toronto. Anyone know what the student population is like in Pickering—Scarborough East? Enough college/university people around that could be rallied or be a factor in the next election?

  15. “the last thing a person who wishes to “get something done” should do is run for office. I would argue that lobbying and activism from outside the system will get more done.”

    what a ridiculous statement. Politicians must just laugh at protests cos ultimately they get to do whatever they want. The parliament is meant to be a representation of the people, but all we as a mass do is elect those horribly squeaky clean know-it-all’s from the law faculty and debating club to rule us. Get involved – its not a closed shop.

  16. “all we as a mass do is elect those horribly squeaky clean know-it-all’s from the law faculty and debating club to rule us”

    I know for one, I don’t need nor want some bible thumper or business type operating for either their or some organizations benefit.

    If the system is setup to only allow lawyers and others of their ilk **shudder** to rule us…
    how can we change the system?

    …Because protests don’t seem to work.
    What’s next, the ammo box? I’m afraid of that :-(

  17. @ Oxymoron69

    > Cory, When are you going to run
    > for public office?

    Oh yeah. Just what you need. If anything, someone like Cory running for public office will only do more to further the damage to the cause.

    It’s bad enough that people think that anyone with a liberal view on intellectual property is a left-wing nut job. Having someone like Cory represent the side will (if anything) only serve to confirm their doubts.

    You might have better luck with someone like John Young, even. Now Bruce Perens – there’s a thought.

    > I know for one, I don’t need nor
    > want some bible thumper or business
    > type operating for either their or
    > some organizations benefit.

    There is nothing wrong in self-service. There is something wrong when doing so is detrimental to progress, rather than not.

    > If the system is setup to only
    > allow lawyers and others of their
    > ilk **shudder** to rule us…
    > how can we change the system?

    You could start by not generalizing people and throwing them into stereotypical buckets.

    Understanding the fundamental business reasons behind the actions of politicians, and seeking to teach them that those actions are rather detrimental to business and profits is the way to go about this. Blind arm-flailing and accusatory remarks will only serve to have the other side think that your justifications are full of nonsense (and that you are a nut-job).

    > It’s heroism calling; do you
    > accept the charges?

    How’s that drool-aid looking?

  18. @SSWAAN 13 : is a good place to start if you’re looking to find out about the state of the Canadian copyfight. Their Links box a little ways down the page on the right is a good info resource, but you might also try contacting a local Fair Copyright chapter for a person to person explanation.

  19. just throw the crooks and scoundrels out every term. It doesn’t matter who is pretending to run things, just never let them steal more than can be grabbed in four or five years.

  20. Is this the way it’s going to be till the end of time? When will these sleazy bastards give up already?

    Seriously, every other week some politician, from some random part of the world, comes up with one of these money induced corporate fantasy plans. It’s like psychological warfare on the thinking class.

  21. Hmm, a riding is a hundred thousand people, three quarters of whom vote. “The Internet” can command 200 people on the ground in Toronto. In a solid day of door-knocking, that’s about a minute per.

    Probably not a real threat to someone with a 20-point lead, but…

  22. Yeah, no. Not everyone in that geographical constituent known as the internet likes Cory besides.

  23. When are you Canadians going to learn to do exactly what your big brothers here in the US tell you to do and not make a fuss?

    When we say “Copyright!” you’re supposed to quiver in your boots and vote any way we tell you. When we say “Drugs!” you’re supposed to run and hide.

    And believe me, we’re about to say “War on Terror!” and that trumps everything, so you might as well just toss out your laws and just start wearing American Flag Lapel Pins.

    I guarantee that the Copyright! discussion will soon take on War on Terror! implications, so you will have absolutely no choice.

  24. Any country that allows lobbyists quickly becomes run by oligarchs. One group of oligarchs, sorry I mean lobbyists, is the recording industry.

  25. McTeague needs to be banished to some redneck wasteland where he belongs! What ever happened to banishing anyway…now there’s a ‘Bill’ that I could get behind!

  26. McTeague needs to be banished to some redneck wasteland where he belongs!

    That’s such a tempting straight line. Must remain strong.

  27. He’s Canadian. He’s already been banished to a redneck wasteland by the cruel and inexorable gods of birth or naturalization.

    Happy now?

  28. “all we as a mass do is elect those horribly squeaky clean know-it-all’s from the law faculty and debating club to rule us”

    I know for one, I don’t need nor want some bible thumper or business type operating for either their or some organizations benefit.

    Bible Thumper, Bible Basher. They are one in the same. Their zeal just follows different paths.

  29. Cory Doctorow is better off writing bits about politics than getting involved with it himself. Talk about mucking up your Kharma. Besides, if he wants to make a difference (which he seems to), he can continue doing so from within the industry. I currently think that the publishing biz supports copyright law as it stands in the US, for the most part. Publishers do make money from selling their product.

  30. Redneck wasteland? Well he already is the member for Pickering-Scarborough East…

    Now, as someone born and raised in downtown Toronto, I will commence with the obligatory series of Scarborough jokes:

    Q: What constitutes a 7 course meal in Scarborough?

    A: A six-pack and a pizza.

    Q: What do you call a Scarberian in a four-bedroom house?

    A: A burglar.

    Q: What do you call a Scarberian wearing a suit?

    A: The defendant.

    Feel free to join in.

  31. PPF (Public Policy Forum) is not public at all. By removing Knopf from the forum they went against their very own mandate:

    ” meeting place where diverse and often opposing opinions and interests can be aired openly and debated, and opportunities can be sought for mutual understanding and collaboration.”,

    the public is once again, put against the wall.

  32. OK – I wrote to my MP and said that McTeague was a disgrace to the Liberal party for putting American Coporate interests ahead of the rights of ordinarry Canadians.

  33. we should get our own political party going.
    instead a waiting for the ndp to get there act together we really should just do it.
    Net neutrality part
    I Party
    (I = internet party)

    kinda catchy

  34. Boba Fett Diop (#37)

    Slight correction: A “A six-pack and a pizza” is a 14 course meal ;) 10 if it’s a small (but it never is)…

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