Russell McOrmond's blog

Ongoing government dishonesty conflating Copyright with Counterfeiting

This isn't a new issue, even if there is a new Conservative Government bill C-56 tabled before parliament. The long and short titles tell a shortform of the dishonesty:

An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Short Title: Combating Counterfeit Products Act

Commercial infringers demanding government gut laws protecting technology owners.

I sent the following to my MP and to the Minister of Industry:

Mr McGuinty, my MP for Ottawa South,
Cc: The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry,

As you know I have spent more than a decade working on protecting technology owners from various forms of infringement of their tangible property rights. Much of the threats to property rights comes from people and organizations falsely claiming such infringements are necessary to protect their rights.

To borrow from a related phrase: One owners right to protect their property ends at my right to protect my property.

Remember Aaron Swartz by working for open society and against government abuses

Dan Gillmor offers great words for those of us mourning Aaron Swartz.

Public Domain Day 2013

January 1'st each year we morbidly celebrate the death of authors and other creative persons. Flaws in the law mean the expiry of the copyright monopoly, and works finally entering the public domain to the enrichment of all humanity, is most often calculated from the year of a creative person's death.

Wallace J.McLean, Meera Nair and Michael Geist all blogged about the celebration.

Computer Control in the context of a Gun Control debate

There has been considerable discussion (debate, flamewars) about gun control in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newton, Conn. -- so much that the NRA hid its Facebook page to avoid hosting flame wars.

It is hard for me not to be reminded of the debates about computer control while listening to all the debates on gun control.  (See: Protecting the property, privacy and other rights of owners: Bill C-19 and Bill C-11 , The long computer registry and IT control).

Discussing The Declared Value system - a proposal to liberate copyright/patent monopolies

I have been contributing to a thread on Google+ about a copyright/patent reform proposal by Karl Fogel.

While the specific proposal is interesting, I am most happy about the overall themes.


  • Recognition that we are talking about statutory monopolies, and all monopolies have a social and economic cost which must be considered.
  • Recognition that there is a need for registration and renewal for this monopoly, after a possible formality-free grace period.
  • Recognition that this monopoly should come at an economic price (registration/renewal fees, taxation, etc) to the monopoly rightsholder.

Whatever specific reforms are suggested, debated and discussed, these offer a critically needed starting point.

The Writers Union becoming a protest group?

While unfortunate, I was not surprised to hear that representatives of the Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) crashed a private meeting of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) on November 12'th. Like a "Yes Men" type of event these uninvited guests forced themselves in front of the assembled members to speak and pamphlet. They were rude enough that they had to be asked to leave the premises. TWUC protesters video taped their intrusion and sent out a press release.

I was worried this type of thing would happen when I heard that John Degen had become the executive director at TWUC. I first met Mr Degen in 2006, and my concern then was that a certain subset of authors he was part of were lobbying to remove choices from author. Suggesting that there is only one true business model to pay authors, and that authors should not be allowed to explore potentially more lucrative alternatives, appears to remain at the heart of the TWUC protest.

Order Fixing Various Dates as the Dates on which Certain Provisions of the Act Come into Force

Many parts of the C-11 came into force on Wednesday as part of a notice in the Canada Gazette.

Also published on the same day: MicroSD Cards Exclusion Regulations (Copyright Act), which temporarily excludes MicroSD cards from the private copying levy. The government went out of their way to protect the levy (what they sometimes call a "tax") in Bill C-11 itself.

Sections relating to the two WIPO treaties will be delayed until it is confirmed that Canadian law conforms to the requirements of those treaties.

There is also a delay relating to the notice-and-notice regime for ISP liability.

How software vendors are like political parties

In a previous blog article I compared software vendors and political parties. This is a theme I've been discussing for years. When speaking to politicians I suggest they know more about software than they think, and that the most important dynamics they need to understand about software are similar to political science.

Lawrence Lessig wrote in Code about how computer code (or "West Coast Code", referring to Silicon Valley in the USA) may regulate our lives similar to how legal code (or "East Coast Code", referring to Washington, D.C.) does. While there are rare examples of individuals authoring their own code that governs their own lives, in the majority case the code is authored by one group of people and governs many people who in some way choose to be governed by that group.

How much choice people have in what team authors the code they are governed by is considered critical in legal code, with many in the west considering it worth going to war to protect their right to choose in the form of democracy. In most countries we choose individuals part of a team, with those teams called political parties.

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