Ask Canadian Industry Minister questions about the DMCA at the Calgary Stampede this Saturday

Industry Minister Jim Prentice -- who has consistently dodged direct questions about his proposed Canadian DMCA -- is doing a live appearance at the Calgary Stampede this coming Saturday.

Here's how Prentice's version of the CDMCA spin works: "The Canadian DMCA is a balance. It guarantees a whole bunch of consumer rights, like time-shifting and format-shifting." But you also criminalize breaking DRM, even when it takes away those "guaranteed" rights. "Yes, but no one would use DRM to take those away." But people have. "The market will solve it."

Minister Prentice has apparently never heard of what economists call Moral Hazard: "the prospect that a party insulated from risk may behave differently from the way it would behave if it were fully exposed to the risk." In other words: if you give the entertainment industry a tool by which they can ban time-shifting, format-shifting, etc, and charge extra for the "privilege" of exercising those "rights," then they probably will.

Are you near Calgary? Planning on going to the Stampede? Maybe you could find Minister Prentice -- preferably while holding a video camera -- and ask him about this. Link (Thanks, RajSmith!)


  1. Damn. I’m in the Greater Toronto Area, or I would do it.

    I would show up with several props. I would have a VHS tape and an LP and a CD and a DVD and an iPod. I would ask why it is legal for me to copy the VHS and the LP and the CD to the iPod and why it is going to be illegal to copy the DVD to the iPod. I paid for all of them – what’s the difference? Yes, I know the CD cannot be put verbatim onto the iPod (outside hard drive mode and then, not playable), but I can still put it there in a virtually flawless format using something like Apple lossless. Or FLAC on a different type of player. Just because I can make perfect or near-perfect copies does not mean I’m outside selling them on a blanket in front of my house.

    I would challenge him on who was consulted on the Bill. Who he had lunch with – the Barenaked Ladies or the US Trade Rep/Ambassador.

    I would challenge him to open this to comment, given the wide-ranging business coalition that includes the major ISPs and leading tech companies that came out against the Bill several months back.

    I would ask what benefit most of the draconian provisions have for consumers. The only beneficiaries I see are lawyers and international media companies.

    I would challenge him to ask the Canadian music artists who pulled out of the CRIA last year whether they support the suing of their fans.

    I would ask if he had ever spoken with Prof. Geist, who is no pro-piracy wacko, but is actually one of the most balanced and intellectually sound voices out there on this topic.

    I would ask why, each time I buy a stack of blanks, I am assumed to be a criminal and am charged a levy. I’ve never burned/ripped anything illegal in my life, yet it is assumed that because I am buying blank media, I must be doing something shady. That burns my ass.

    I would ask why the fuck we care what Hollywood and the US music industry think at all. Since Chretien limited corporate donations to $1k per candidate, it’s not like their money can influence election outcomes anymore.

    Fuck ’em. Take Prentice to task, Calgarians!

  2. This is not news that Prentice refuse to answer questions. Harper’s cabinet ministers are not allowed to reply to questions, as part of the current micro-management practice. They have blanket statements pre-written, and rehash them all the time. You just need to watch question period on CPAC to be convinced of this.

    (I’m nowhere near Calgary, unfortunately).

  3. Oh Oh Calgarian here! I will be there!

    I wonder if he gets a question he doesn’t like if he’ll up and leave the stage (a la CBC Search Engine interview).

    Looking forward to it.

  4. I heard vague unsubstantiated rumours last week that Prentice was on his way out as Minister of Industry. Apparently because he’s doing such a great job, and they want to promote him. Huh.

  5. One of the most fundamentally contradictory points about Prentice’s response that “the market will solve it” is that if he has such trust in the emergent wisdom of the market to regulate this entire matter, then why is it necessary for the government to create any legislation at all?

    Obviously the statement that “the market will solve it” is double-speak, but it’s such blatantly transparent double-speak that it’s a little embarrassing to behold.

    Really, either sensible, comprehensive legislation is required, or else the government should just keep its fingers out of the pie. And the Tories supposedly claim to prefer smaller/less government, so they should be trying to stay out of this.

    Of course, the reality is that this is all about big money and big influence, not about principles. George Carlin was right….

  6. The market is currently solving it’s own problems.

    If the government doesn’t intervene, then people who want free shit go download their free shit.

    There’s always a whole wackload of people who will line up in droves to empty their wallets at the movie theatre, music/dvd store or video game retailers.

    The government doesn’t really seem to understand how people work.

    People that download and share media are usually the ones who can’t afford these luxuries in life, and by interfering with the current state of affairs…

    Well lets see, it’s not going to make the poor/frugal of us get any richer, giving us disposable income to pay for what we once downloaded.

    It’s not going to change our younger generations who have grown up in a world where music is free and will download it anyways because “the internet is just where music and movies come from”.
    -quote from my 11 year old neice

    Our real problem is, our government is on a course to enact all of these laws to create a USA approved nanny-state. This is just testing the waters before they ratify ACTA without any public consultation or referendum.

    I for one, just wish we could flex our sovereignty, get a non-corrupt government into the parliament and then run our country with what’s best for our citizenry in mind.

    Democracy may be a ghost in North America these days, but I’m sure we can re-engineer it…
    we have the technology…
    Oh wait, but Jim Prentice says NO! Get your Democracy in microtransactions via the CRIA or something, gah, i got nothin….


  7. This is not actually at the stampede, but at a stampede breakfast.

    If you click on the link, it says that it is at Osteria de Medici parking lot (Corner of Kensington Rd and 10th St).

    Bring your donation for Children’s cottage society (don’t know what they want… Food? Toys? Money?)

  8. Bring your donation for Children’s cottage society (don’t know what they want… Food? Toys? Money?)

    They want cottages. Do you really want to deprive a child of their own personal lakefront cottage?

  9. Here’s how Prentice’s version of the CDMCA spin works: “The Canadian DMCA is a balance. It guarantees a whole bunch of consumer rights, like time-shifting and format-shifting.” But you also criminalize breaking DRM, even when it takes away those “guaranteed” rights. “Yes, but no one would use DRM to take those away.” But people have. “The market will solve it.”

    Is he not right?

    Previously on Boing Boing…

    Blackstone Audio phases out audiobook DRM

    Audiobook downloads with no DRM or watermarks from Naxos

    EMI abandons CD DRM

    iTunes Store will sell ENTIRE EMI CATALOG DRM-free!!

    Looks like Prentice is right…the market will solve it

  10. @#7:

    Correct. This event is *not* at the Stampede, but rather in Kensington (just south of the Sunnyside C-Train station at the corner of 10th St. and Kensington Rd.).

    Unfortunately, I doubt that the minister will be doing anything other than serving me my pancake while pretending to ignore my questions/concerns about Bill C-61. But darnit, I’m going to try, and at the very least I can increase the visibility of this issue with the other participants at the breakfast.

    If you’re in Calgary, please join us for this protest (and let’s keep it pointed but civil, so we don’t end up discrediting our goals).

    Please see the links that were blogged in:

    Money is the suggested donation for the charity.

    (BTW, I can’t seem to access the Jim Prentice website… did someone launch a DoS attack? If so, please stop this sort of thing. We want to get the rest of Canada on our side, and coming across as a bunch of hooligans will just perpetuate the fallacy that the minister is trying to promote: namely that people shouldn’t be opposed to this bill unless they are pirates. We want to foster awareness that this bill puts restrictions on all manner of *legitimate* activities, some of which are currently engaged in by virtually everyone, and a necessary step to doing so is to make it as difficult as possible for J. Q. Public to simply dismiss us.)

  11. I would like to know where they Conservative Party got the mandate to introduce this act? I don’t believe that a single ordinary Canadian Citizen asked them to introduce this legislature. I don’t believer it was part of their campaign platform when they were elected. No Canadian people have had any complaints whatsoever since a judge a few years ago ruled in favour of down-loaders.
    So was the the Party just sitting around the table one day and someone said “Gee I’m bored what to do?” and someone else said “I know!” Let’s introduce Copyright legislation.”

    If they are accommodating the request of a lobby group or private business they will never tell the public, they will just push the legislation and pass it and them get paid off in back room deals somehow.
    Isn’t there any way they can be pressured to reveal why they suddenly decided to create this legislation and who requested them.

    How is any of this legal under Canada’s Constitution. We need another kind of legislation, We need legislation requiring parties to reveal full disclosure of their business and lobby connections connected with any legislation , with names , dates and meetings. And there must be extreme penalties for non disclosure. They need to get the mandate of Canadian citizens before they pass any legislation.

    Ruling Canada this way is in fact, fascism and every legislation passed this way is a miniature coup d’état usurping the Democratic process.

    How long before they drive the last nail in our freedom?
    WE know almost certain but without the proof of a smoking gun that they have introduced this bill at the request of private corporate business or even foreign corporate conglomerates. And we know because of that it will go through even if 99 percent of the Canadian population oppose it.

    If this is not true then they need to explain how it is not true. They owe the Canadian people an answer to this question. Not the What of the Bill but the Why.
    The Truth.

    Someone needs to put them on the spotlight , demand answers to why they did this and expose the usurpation of our democratic process.

    I can’t believe the outrageous slogan they have on the government website describing this bill [b]”Balanced Approach to Truly Benefit Canadians.[/b]
    This law will not benefit any human being , it will only benefit the entities called corporations that have been given rights as human beings. We have become slaves of artificially created non human entities.

    Next they will be introducing a new law requiring us to were slave collars and RFID chip implants and telling us all how lovely we look.
    That day is not far off at this rate.

  12. I think “The market will solve it” will end up being an eerily predictive idiot savant comment.

    As far as Mr. Prentice goes, we are the market and we will solve it by unrelentingly hanging this around your neck and politically asphyxiating you (think “gun registry” disaster or at the very least “beer and popcorn”) until such time as we get the opportunity to solve you with our vote.

    As for as the industry goes, regardless of this outcome, a can of consumer worms has been opened. I think we have yet to see how we as the market will solve this by punishing those that don’t listen and reward those that do. Perhaps offering DRM-free content will become as much of a business survival tactical no-brainer as having an online presence.

  13. Mulrooney actually won in court when accused of corruption. Since then it has emerged that he did indeed take money. Nothing has happened – or will happen – to him. Why shouldn’t Harper and his mafia operate the same way?

  14. The event went well. Lots of folks came out to oppose Bill C-61. Plenty of signs and shirts with key messages. There was a long line-up for the pancake breakfast and we had folks spread throughout the line talking to attendees.

    I haven’t heard if any of our folks who managed to talk to Prentice (briefly, of course) got anything resembling a meaningful response out of him. A reporter managed to talk to him briefly, too (I think she was with CBC, but Kempton will know for sure).

    Photos from the event are on Flickr:

  15. Michael Geist blogged about my (brief) exchange with the minister:

    Others weren’t so lucky as me. One fellow, when asking if the minister would remove the DRM-related restrictions from the bill, was met with an answer of “Uhhh…”, followed immediately by the minister turning away and greeting other people instead. See it on the video half-way down Kempton’s report:

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