Russell McOrmond's blog

Players or pawns: Big Copyright's war on technology?

One of Canada's best technology journalists, Jesse Brown, interviewed Techdirt.com editor Mike Masnick on the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act. While I agree with most of the discussion, I want to challenge some of the conclusions made at the end of the interview. It was discussed how "big copyright" had a history of lobbying, while tech firms were part of a start-up culture and until recently didn't play that game. This was behind why "big copyright" has been so successful at pushing forward laws which break some of the best features of modern technology, while at the same time not helping copyright holders.

This is based on the idea that there is only one tech sector involved, and that "big copyright" are in control of this game rather than being pawns of a more powerful player.

House stands adjourned until Monday, January 30, 2012

As the Hansard reads, Parliament is now adjourned until Monday, January 30, 2012.

MPs are in their electoral districts, which is the best time for people to contact their MPs and let them know what they think about Bill C-11.

Most MPs, regardless of party affiliation, remain focused on how TPMs may circumvent fair dealings. While this is appropriate when discussing use control TPMs, access control TPMs in C-11 presumably regulate activities never before contemplated in Copyright law.

Conservatives believe this is something where consumer choice can solve any problems, not recognising that much of the harm from abuses of TPMs impact people other than the copyright holder and their audiences.

MPs remain largely unaware that there are 4 classes of owners impacted by Paracopyright, not only the familiar two which the Copyright portions of the bill impact.

Discussing NDP MP and party leadership candidate Romeo Saganash's Copyright article

When I noticed Mr. Saganash's tweet about his Huffington Post article, I replied to say that while I didn't agree with everything he wrote about Bill C-11, I was glad he noted the harm to creators and owners from TPMs. I suspect it would be worthwhile for me to unpack that comment.

In a reply to Mr. Saganash, Jason J Kee disagreed with the suggestion that most countries don't prohibit circumvention for non-infringing purposes. I believe this reply conflates two very different types of technological protection measures included in Bill C-11: use controls, and access controls.

Bill C-11 house debate day 7

On December 12, 2011 we had the seventh time when the House of Commons debated Bill C-11 (at Second Reading). I didn't write about the 6'th time as it was simply a vote on an amendment that was deferred from the 5'th day of debate.

The debate started with Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, CPC, MP for Oak Ridges—Markham) giving a short promotion of the bill and then moving a motion "That this question be now put."

Supreme Court: playing games, sampling music, or eating ice cream?

I visited the Supreme Court today as that series of Copyright related cases are being heard. Today we heard arguments from the appellants, respondents and intervenors in two cases: Entertainment Software Association, et al. v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, Rogers Communications Inc., et al. v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada and Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, et al. v. Bell Canada, et al.

While I found hearing the arguments first-hand in the court exciting, I won't be commenting on those arguments or the specifics of what is before the court. The court will be ruling on how these fact patterns are to be interpreted under current law (legislation and caselaw). Since Bill C-11 impacts the specific sections under discussion this interpretation of the law may be short lived. More interesting may be a discussion of the the underlying policy question , including what I wish the law would say, as opposed to what current law or C-11 says.

Why Heritage Minister James Moore is wrong on Bill C-11 "technological protection measures" (TPMs)

I received a reply from Heritage Minister James Moore dated December 2, 2011. I'm not certain which letter it was in reply to, but it could have been my Who is the Candice Hoeppner for information technology owners? letter I sent to all Conservative MP's back in May/June.

While I am posting the full text of his reply, I wanted to offer a quick response explaining why I think he is wrong on the impacts of the "technological protection measures" aspects of Bill C-11. (See: earlier article for a description of real-world technologies being discussed)

Would Dr. Colin Carrie be as cavalier about pharmaceuticals or medical devices?

Prior to entering Parliament as MP for Oshawa, Dr. Colin Carrie co-owned and operated a chiropractic and wellness clinic in Oshawa. I suspect it was the fact that he worked in the medical profession that his misunderstanding of so-called "digital locks" in the C-11 debate has bothered me so much.

I have to hope if we were talking about a pharmaceutical or medical device, he would have analyzed the issue far more closely. My hope is he reconsider his current dismissing of this important issue, given the underlying policies we see in the Paracopyright part of C-11 will have impacts in areas as serious as medical devices.

Protecting IT property rights not a short-term calling

I've been asked over the last decade how my activism will change once Canadian legislation that includes Paracopyright passes. Will my activism be finished, and will I admit "defeat" if a bill abrogates the government's responsibility to protect IT property rights?

TPM provisions should be closely tied to copyright law as suggested in 1996 WIPO treaties

[The following article was first published in the Nov 21, 2001 issue of the Hill Times on page 13]

OTTAWA -- While Bill C-11 has the title of "An Act to amend the Copyright Act," it includes provisions that will impact our usage of modern technology far beyond activities related to copyright. This bill includes policy which fits within traditional copyright law, and parts that are often called Paracopyright which offer legal protection to specific uses of technology. While the copyright parts of the bill are important, it’s the implication of the Paracopyright provisions that are cause for alarm.

Should we use other terms for copyright: authors rights? WorkRight?

In the November 22'nd issue of StraightGoods, author John Degen discussed a possible renaming of the term "copyright" to "WorkRight" as a transition to thinking of a creative work as an act. He was echoing Abraham Drassinower, Associate Professor and Chair in Legal, Ethical and Cultural Implications of Technological Innovation in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, who suggested that, "Unauthorized publication is wrongful because it is compelled speech."

The concept of "unauthorized publication" relates to a work that was not yet published, and is very different than the concept of copyright infringement which nearly always relates to published works. While copyright infringement or exceptions to copyright are nothing like being compelled to speak, I find the idea of moving away from discussing creativity as a form of property to being tied to authorship to be a very useful one.

Syndicate content