Bill C-32

No need for copyright law to be so complex

My opinion piece has been published in the November 15'th issue of The Hill Times. This was in reply to an opinion piece by lawyer James Gannon who took NDP MP Charlie Angus to task for something said in the House of Commons.

Using misinterpretations of the impacts of C-32 on real-world technology by Mr. Gannon's McCarthy Tétrault LLP colleague Barry Sookman, I demonstrated the complexity of Bill C-32's anti-circumvention rules.

I concluded by saying:

While I believe we should excuse Angus' usage of a few legal terms in a larger speech, we should be far more critical of those who promote excessively complex law that they are not always able to understand themselves. I believe that the more complex copyright law becomes, the less it will be possible for Canadians to understand and respect it. If the lobbyists promoting these laws get it wrong, how can average Canadians, including our children be expected to always get it right?

Is the mainstream media reporting federal politics poorly?

Since I am involved in a federal policy issue, I have become a close observer of federal politics. I am a regular viewer of CTV's Question Period, listener to CBC's The House, and a paid subscriber to The Hill Times. Of the three, the only one I feel like I'm being informed about what is happening in federal politics is from The Hill Times.

Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights : Twenty-First Session

The Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) is not the Canadian parliamentary committee that will be studying Bill C-32. It would be great if Canada did have a SCCR, as this would allow parliamentarians to properly study issues, as well as create and pass more sensible bills than we have seen thus far. It might also mean that there would be a group of 12 parliamentarians that would be watching what is happening at WIPO, helping to direct our negotiators there. We currently have an unworkable split between the standing committees of Heritage (CHPC), Industry (INDU), and International Trade (CIIT).

Among other things, this group of 12 parliamentarians would be tasked with knowing what has previously happened at WIPO and WTO/TRIPS, and wouldn't be so easily manipulated by special interest lawyers trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

SCCR is a standing committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and it twenty-first meeting has been in Geneva, Switzerland from November 8, 2010 to November 12, 2010.

Media/blog articles, and press releases from C-32 tabling

I have moved these links from the main C-32 page as they were focused on releases/etc at the time when the bill was tabled. The BLOG has been used to highlight various articles published since that time.

Copyright Bill C-32 full dysclosure

This Wednesday I will be joining the crew on DyscultureD to talk about the current state of Bill C-32.

If you have any specific things you would like to have discussed, please add them to the WIKI or post a comment here. While Bill C-32 and copyright are obvious topics, non-copyright related stories would be great as well!

Update: Episode 108 – Slowly Cooked Gonads with a Side of Digital Lox.

Hyperbole from traditional educational publishers: postcards/etc.

Today I received a copy of a misinformation package from Nelson Education Ltd. about Bill C-32. In the package there was a letter from Greg Nordal (President and CEO), a "call to action", a printed copy of an article headlined Copyright bill threat to our identity, and 4 postcards (One to Prime Minister, one each to Industry and Heritage Ministers, and one intended for the local MP) that pointed to Access Copyright's campaign site copyrightgetitright.ca.

CIPPIC lawyer David Fewer discussed much of the misinformation about C-32 educational fair dealings in this package in an Ottawa Citizen article headlined Copyright bill is no ripoff of textbooks. In short, C-32 doesn't say any of the things that traditional educational publishers are saying in their mail-outs.

Bill stands referred to a legislative committee.

On Friday, November 5'th, Bill C-32 was referred to a legislative committee at second reading. Please see transcripts of day 1 and day 2 of the debate.

Note: "The House stands adjourned until Monday, November 15 at 11 a.m."

The general mood of the House of Commons debate on C-32 thus far.

From watching and reading the transcripts of day 1 and day 2 of the debate on C-32 I notice a certain mood. While it is often claimed that Canada's copyright law is outdated and in critical need of modernization (See the C-32 FAQ for the truth), the level of the debate in the house could be confused for being the mid 1990's towards the passing of the Bill C-32 that passed in 1997. Every once in a while a brand name product that didn't exist in 1997 is mentioned, but otherwise the debate hasn't advanced much with parliamentarians.

(Please also read Meera Nair's article which discussed education and fair dealings).

Day 2 of Bill C-32 debates in the house.

We now have a transcript of the 2'nd day of debates in the house of C-32 (See day 1), with speeches by Liberal Heritage critic Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier), and NDP member Glen Thibeault (Sudbury), and additional interventions by Liberal Alan Tonks (York South--Weston) and NDP Jim Maloway (Elmwood--Transcona).

The extension of the private copying levy to devices was added to question period by the Conservatives, and was part of an exchange between Mrs. Carole Lavallée (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, BQ) and Mr. Dean Del Mastro (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, CPC) that was part of Adjournment Proceedings.

See: Is the private copying levy a tax? for why I feel both the Conservatives and the opposition parties are dangerously misunderstanding copyright when discussing this topic.

Is the private copying levy a tax?

One of the exchanges that is happening in the context of C-32 is one of the few things from the kitchen sink that was not thrown into the bill, and that is an extension of the existing private copying regime for recorded music that was created in 1997. The Conservatives brought this issue up yet again today in question period (Hansard), and it was brought up multiple times in the C-32 debate yesterday.

While it would be nice if this could be answered simply by saying that it is a royalty and not a tax, what some special interest groups and politicians are asking for sounds far more like an unaccountable version of a tax than a royalty.

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