C-32 committee meeting 3 thoughts.

The second meeting for the C-32 committee was in-camera yesterday, but the third meeting was available to all Canadians via camera. While I attended the first meeting in person, I viewed this one via ParlVU at home with my twitter feed open. It was a very different dynamic.

I suspect that the tone of the debate may be set. Conservative Ministers and conservative members on the committee continued to promote the bill as balancing everyone’s interests, and seem more interested in marketing than discussing policy substance.

I found it interesting how many times Minister Moore said something he intended to be against a levy which was actually a greater critique against non-owner digital locks. Access Controls, and access, should remain outside of Copyright law and be a matter of other provincial and federal laws. Non-owner locks on our devices (the second and more critical component of so-called "use controls") is a far greater imposition on Canadians than a levy could ever be. Moore likely doesn't know this, or if he did, recognizes that many Canadians are less technical than he is and don't even realize the attack on IT property rights that these non-owner locks represent.

Carole Lavallé (Bloc) focused on the idea that the bill protected the interests of businesses, and didn't seem to offer anything in the way of compensation to creators. While she brought up various levy systems, the Ministers and departmental representatives said that this policy choice had been rejected by the government. She was the most consistent representative of the creator groups I've been reading ideas from who want compensation, not locks or lawsuits. I may not agree with the specific mechanisms these groups are proposing, but I strongly agree with the sentiment they are expressing.

Marc Garneau of the Liberals seemed to keep at a higher level, and a few questions by Dan McTeague went pretty deep into the policy details. Whether I agree with Mr. McTeague on his policy goals or not (or his choice of advisors), I have to respect him for trying to make the most effective use of having the departmental officials available to him as witnesses.

Not surprising, I was most impressed by the performance of Charlie Angus who I consider to be the creators' rights representative on the hill. It was interesting watching the tweets with the policy person from the Entertainment Software Association being so critical of Angus. Given how their policy focus seems to be on circumventing the contours of various federal/provincial laws through making digital locks trump them, their disagreement with Angus may be a sign of how well Angus is seen to be protecting the interests of artists.

Some of the twitter folks I follow were critical of Mr. Angus as he often brought up levies. Like digital locks, levies are not well understood. Few would find the compulsory licensing system that makes commercial radio viable to be controversial (section 19). As an example of a compensation policy outside of copyright, few consider the Public Lending Right (PLR) to be controversial. I believe if we are to get past current politics we need to make more proposals modelled after section 19 (inside copyright) and the PLR (outside of copyright) to ensure that we have less controversial ways to ensure that creators get compensated for the access which audiences wish (and predominantly want to pay for).

I worry that the dynamic in the committee (Conservatives want locks and lawsuits, opposition want government funding masquerading as copyright) will lead to policy compromises that will make C-32 even worse than it already is as far as the interests of the wider creative sectors are concerned.

To me the worst of all worlds is if the Liberals and Conservatives strike a deal: Liberals hand over C-32 style extreme anti-circumvention in exchange for Conservatives agreeing to a levy on technology that applies to all creative sectors. This would revoke copyright and hand policy over to two sets of intermediaries: monopolist parties in tech sector and (government granted monopolist) collective societies.

While I consider levies to be the lesser of two evils compared with non-owner locks, I worry we may end up with both.

Next meeting is set for Monday at 15:30.