Canadian copyright lobbyists leaned on "independent" researchers to change report on file-sharing

The Conference Board of Canada's sellout on copyright just keeps on getting worse. To recap: the Conference Board is a supposedly neutral research outfit that was asked by the Canadian copyright industries to write a report on file-sharing and piracy in Canada. They hit up the Ontario government for $15,000 to fund an event where the findings of the report would be presented.

Then they hired an independent researcher who concluded that there wasn't anything particularly wrong with Canadian file-sharing. They threw away his research.

Then they plagiarized dodgy press-materials produced by the leading US copyright lobby group, quoting lengthy passages that were factually wrong.

Then they denied any wrongdoing.

Then they admitted they'd plagiarized, but insisted that the public money hadn't been spent "on the report" -- it had been spent on the conference about the report, which is a Different Thing Altogether.

Then the founder and leader of the Conference Board, Anne Golden, appeared on the TVOntario podcast Search Engine and argued that she didn't really see anything especially egregious about the fact that the plagiarists had copied the talking points of the people who'd hired them to write the "independent" report. She even tried to discredit the distinguished academic who wrote the conflicting report that they discarded by saying that he's a plagiarist for saying that "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck" (in reference to the Board's apparent bias-for-money position), because someone else said that first.

And now, it just got worse.

One of the named authors of the plagiarized report has come forward to say that the funders of the report -- Canadian copyright lobbyists -- actively pressured him to come to the conclusions that they wanted to see. He asked to have his name removed from the report prior to publication -- and Anne Golden called him to talk it over and then hung up on him.

# # My new work was interrupted in mid-September by my former supervisor at the Conference Board to tell me there had been "push back" from one of the funding clients about the research and inclusion of Mr. deBeer's contribution. I had quit almost two months earlier so this was of no concern to me.

# Around the same time, my new work was also interrupted by a call from one of the funding clients who expressed similar concerns. Again, I informed him that I no longer had anything to do with these reports.

# I received news of its publication on May 26, 2009, ten months after my resignation. I downloaded and read the research after I was informed of the controversy and was alarmed to see the direction it had taken.

# I sent my letter to Anne Golden the following day.

# The VP of Public Policy e-mailed me on May 29th to ask for my assistance in finding both researchers who could "fix" the reports, as well as external reviewers who would be impartial in reviewing the new work. His message stated that "I trust your judgment, experience and knowledge and would value your help."

Ex-Conference Board Author Speaks Out; Confirms "Push Back" From Copyright Lobby Funders


  1. Nice summary, Cory, thanks! It’s a bit scary how many people profess to not understand the implications of this chain of events. Although I have been following this story since it first came out on Michael Geist’s blog, I have found that people who should care don’t seem able to wrap their heads around it.

    Your synopsis is very clear on this. I’m beginning to think that the triumvirate from “Thankyou for Smoking” needs to add a chair to their table for the primo tutti capo of the media lobbyists.

  2. I’m shocked. SHOCKED. Okay, perhaps not so much shocked as disgusted. Okay, not so much disgusted as depressed by the utter typicalness of it all. You know what I mean.

    I’m trying to do my bit to cover these issues as well. Hope the archive linked below helps someone out when they go to document this stuff in few years – “The Rise and Fall of Online Freedom, 2000-2010”

  3. Canadians need to wake up to the banana republic reality of their situation. The wealthy that have purchased their government no longer even feel any need to be discreet.

  4. Anne,

    It’s time to go back and run the United Way.

    This whole Conference Board of Canada thing has been a massive fail….

  5. Does anybody from CTV, Global, CBC (Canadian News Organizations) even use the google or look at the internets. I mean the 24 hour news stations can repeat 50 times in an hour that there are three new cases of the Swine Flu across the country but I never see anything on this, and regardless if you follow this “copyright will eat itself aka how I learned stop worrying and love litigation as an artform” debate this is an obvious fraud on taxpayers money. Heads should roll.

  6. The RIAA/MPAA shills will be identified and treated like the mental patients they chose to become.

    Homogenized perspective is not democracy.
    The US copyright laws were changed to allow unauthorized invasion of civilian privacy prior to the Patriot Act. How else is it possible to pacify a populous of TV resistant generations?

    Wars are won by ideology — so declaring war on a religion or idea is a futile distraction. The lesson would have been know if the US stopped sanitizing the history books so everyone sounds like a heroic altruistic liberator.

    Chances are you probably think this is flame bait, wrong, or rhetoric — because most people are vicariously “educated” and never met the people who were there.

    Trust in freedom… anyone who tries to stand in its way will only escalate its demand.

  7. The background workings of “news management”, laid bare.

    If you wonder how we get involved in aggressive, unwinnable, idiotic, and cruel wars: this is how it’s done in a democracy (mutatis mutandi).

    Based upon well-crafted lies….better for people to trust their own humanity.

  8. Funny how the whole thing is essentially about stealing someone’s original work… and then they plagiarized… how ironic.

    What are we going to do about this??!

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