Michael Geist sez,
More than ten years of contentious debate over Canadian copyright law appeared to come to a conclusion in late June when Bill C-11 passed its final legislative hurdle and received royal assent. Yet despite characterizing the bill as a "vital building block", the copyright lobby that pressured the government to impose restrictive rules on digital locks and tougher penalties for copyright infringement is already demanding further reforms that include rolling back many key aspects of the original bill.
Unlike the last round of copyright reform that featured national consultations and open committee hearings, this time the lobby groups are hoping to use secretive trade negotiations to forge legislative change. Later today, the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella organization that represents movie, music, and software associations, will urge the U.S. government to pressure Canada to enact further reforms as part of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations. The group wants Canada to drop the notice-and-notice approach for ISPs in favor of an Internet termination scheme, to drop recent changes to copyright statutory damages, and to extend the term of copyright.
Copyright Lobby Demands Rollback of Recent Canadian Reforms in Secretive Trade Deal
Michael Geist sez,
Nearly 15 years of debate over digital copyright reform will come to an end today as Bill C-11, the fourth legislative attempt at Canadian copyright reform, passes in the House of Commons. Many participants in the copyright debate view the bill with great disappointment, pointing to the government's decision to adopt restrictive digital lock rules as a signal that their views were ignored.
Despite the loss on digital locks, the "Canadian copyfight" led to some dramatic changes to Canadian copyright as the passage of Bill C-11 still features some important wins for Canadians who spoke out on copyright. For example, the government expanded fair dealing and added provisions on time shifting, format shifting, backup copies, and user generated content in response to public pressure. It also included a cap on statutory damages, expanded education exceptions, and rejected SOPA-style amendments. Canadian public engagement on copyright continuously grew in strength - from the Bulte battle in 2006 to the Facebook activism in 2007 to the immediate response to the 2008 bill to the 2009 copyright consultation to the 2010 response to Bill C-32. While many dismissed the role of digital activism on copyright, the reality is that it had a huge impact on the shape of Canadian copyright.
The Battle over C-11 Concludes: How Thousands of Canadians Changed The Copyright Debate
Michael Geist sez,
The Internet battle against SOPA and PIPA generated huge interest in Canada with many Canadians turning their sites dark (including Blogging Tories, Project Gutenberg Canada, and CIPPIC) in support of the protest. While SOPA may be dead (for now) in the U.S., lobby groups are likely to intensify their efforts to export SOPA-like rules to other countries. With Bill C-11 back on the legislative agenda at the end of the month, Canada will be a prime target for SOPA style rules.
In fact, a close review of the unpublished submissions to the Bill C-32 legislative committee reveals that several groups have laid the groundwork to add SOPA-like rules into Bill C-11, including blocking websites and expanding the "enabler provision"to target a wider range of websites. Given the reaction to SOPA in the U.S., where millions contacted their elected representatives to object to rules that threatened their Internet and digital rights, the political risks inherent in embracing SOPA-like rules are significant.
The music industry is unsurprisingly leading the way, demanding a series of changes that would make Bill C-11 look much more like SOPA.
For example, the industry wants language to similar to that found in SOPA on blocking access to websites, demanding new provisions that would "permit a court to make an order blocking a pirate site such as The Pirate Bay to protect the Canadian marketplace from foreign pirate sites."
The Behind-the-Scenes Campaign To Bring SOPA To Canada
Michael Geist sez, "The U.S. government just concluded a consultation on whether it should support Canada's entry into the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. The TPP raises significant concerns about extension of copyright and overbroad protection for digital locks, so staying out might be a good thing. However, the IIPA, which represents the major movie, music, and software lobby associations, sees this as an opportunity to force Canada to enact a Canadian DMCA and to implement ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It has told the US government to keep Canada out of the talks until those laws are passed, adding that any exception to protect Canadian culture will not be included in the TPP."
TPP is the second coming of ACTA, the last round of incalculably evil, back-room copyright shenanigans. This seems like a pretty big miscalculation from America's copyright-pushers: "If you don't pass the crazy, awful copyright laws we've demanded, we won't let you be a part of our suicide-by-copyright-pact." Say it ain't so!
US Copyright Lobby Wants Canada Out of TPP Until New Laws Passed, Warns of No Cultural Exceptions
Canadian Conservative MP Lee Richardson, a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, responded to a letter from a constituent who worried that the new copyright bill C-11 creates penalties for breaking "digital locks" (the software that stops you from copying files, watching DVD movies on Linux, or fixing your own car). The MP's letter said:
If a digital lock is broken for personal use, it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.
In other words, you should go ahead and break the law because you won't get caught. As Michael Geist says, "Copyright reform is supposedly about updating Canada's copyright rules and fostering greater respect for copyright law" -- not being able to break the law with impunity.
Conservative MP on C-11's Digital Lock Rules: No Risk of Liability for Breaking Locks