A (non-)debate on Bill C-11 starts today: the 4 quadrants of the bill

The Hill Times is reporting that "debate" on Bill C-11 will start later today. During the debate, take note of what components of the bill get discussed and which parts are misunderstood and/or shoved under the rug.

I like to break the bill up into 4 parts (quadrants) based on two axis: Is the policy related to copyright, or Paracopyright (technical measures, etc). The other axis is whether the policy is related to the two 1996 WIPO treaties, or not.

WIPO+Copyright: least controversial, and least discussed.

non-WIPO+Copyright: likely the 2'nd most discussed, and includes things like the expansion of fair dealings. This is also where all the "good" stuff is when it comes to the perspective of audiences of creative works and small/independent creators.

WIPO+Paracopyright: This is the part of technical measures that are "use" controls and where the protection of those use controls are tied to otherwise infringing activities. This is what people like Geist are calling for: that the TPM parts of the bill do what WIPO suggested, and no more!

non-WIPO+Paracopyright: This is the least understood, and part the government most avoids talking about. Any discussion of "access controls" or protection of "use controls" for activities not otherwise infringing copyright falls here. The government claims this is what the WIPO treaties ask for, or what our trading partners have done, all of which is false. This is also the part of the new law that will be abused the most by the holders of the keys to the "digital locks" people keep talking about. In the vast majority of real-world scenarios, the owner of the locked thing (the copyrighted content, the digital technology/devices) are not the key holders. Often the purpose of the lock is to circumvent the rights of the owner. Far from protecting the rights of owners, these provisions of the bill will enable and even legally protect abuse.

Hope this helps put some context to the non-debate we will see today.

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It will indeed be interesting

It will indeed be interesting to see whether the debate focusses on the TPM provisions or the exceptions. In the closing phase of the last parliament, pretty much up until the re-introduction of the bill, there was a full court lobbying press on the exceptions. But with the BQ reduced to a rump caucus, it's less clear who will carry that banner.

Stand partly corrected.

As suggested by the Projected Order of Business, the debate on C-11 started around 10:30, and continued until 2pm when statements from members started. After question period and related discussions, debate on C-11 continued.

While I will be reading transcripts more closely later, the focus of the debate that I was able to listen to was appropriately on the most controversial part : Paracopyright. While members from the Government side continued to try to push that issue under the rug, the independent members or members of opposition parties were not willing to let that slide.

Note: The phrases "technical measures" and "digital locks" were used interchangeably. I don't think I ever heard the term "Paracopyright", but it is what I will use.

I did not get the impression there was much understanding of WIPO vs non-WIPO Paracopyright. Discussions of access and access controls, entirely outside of traditional notions of copyright, were discussed interchangeably with use controls. There seemed to be a presumption, even from those opposed to "digital locks", that the locks were under the control of copyright holders even though in a majority of real-world scenarios the keys are controlled by a third party.

When C-32 was tabled there were a few days of debate, and then the bill was referred to a special legislative committee (Nov 2, 2010, Nov 3, passed at second reading on November 5th). The debate seems to be more lively and focused on the most controversial aspects of the bill this time.


Lively debate is a good thing, but it's not likely to result in any amendments (that pass). So the real work, as usual, will be at the committee level. My sense is that the government will be inclined to use its majority power in the committee. I suspect we will see an abbreviated hearing schedule and limited debate.

We know they intend to amend the enabling services provision to change primarily designed to primarily designed or used. There are bound to be some other small changes. But I don't expect much in the way of substantive change.