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."

There was some discussion whether this essentially ended debate. I'm a follower of Kady O'malley on Twitter, and she repeated a few times that this is not closure or time allocation. It means that no further amendments can be put at 2'nd reading. The debate must be on the original question from the first day which "moved that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee."

Mr Calandra asked a few questions of other speakers along the same lines of, "can the member point out a jurisdiction which has used technical protection measures to protect creators' works, where those measures have resulted in less content for consumers?"

It is hard to decipher the question. If the question was "less content for consumers on the devices they already own", then the answer would be every jurisdiction. You have to go through the contortions of trying to find a common definition of "technological protection measures" that both a technical person like myself and Mr. Calandra would agree on before being able to answer the question. He may be speaking about things like "pay walls" which have no business being discussed in federal copyright law (they are a matter of provincial eCommerce), while I would be talking about anti-interoperability locks on content which by their very design and purpose restrict consumers ability to access content on the devices and software of their own choosing.

This doesn't even get into the issue of non-owner locks on our devices which C-11 presumably protects, something that anyone with any respect for tangible property rights should be rejecting. Maybe Mr. Calandra is aware of this contradiction, given he mentioned the video game industry a few times and some of the game console manufacture are openly hostile towards the property rights of technology owners. In this debate we may not even agree on who the worst infringers are of the rights are of various owners impacted by the Paracopyright aspects of C-11: copyright owners, owners of copies, software authors, technology owners.

This question demonstrates one of the problems with the Paracopyright aspects of this bill, which is that different people mean entirely different and incompatible things when they use the same language. This creates uncertainty in the law which will harm all interests, including the creators in the video game industry (different than the interests of the console manufacturers) that Mr. Calandra suggests he is concerned about.

I have said a few times that I believe that losses due to unintended consequences from misunderstood and misapplied technological measures may be greater than losses due to copyright infringement. Mr. Calandra may be surprised to learn that many of us are engaged in this debate because we want legislation to better protect the the rights and interests of owners, including copyright owners, something which the current draft of C-11 greatly threatens. In other words, these industries which represent thousands of Canadian jobs need protection *from* TPMs, not protection *for* TPMs.

Another thing Mr. Calandra often repeated was "I want to congratulate him for taking advantage of the extraordinary opportunity we are providing by allowing debate on this topic". As many other people have noted, it is one thing to allow people to speak, but something entirely for the government to be listening. It is unfortunate that the Conservatives seem to be sleep-walking into passing legislation that will do great harm to a variety of classes of owners.