Targeting technology ownership rather than copyright infringement

The most extreme positions in the copyright debate tend to be expressed from anonymous or pseudonymous entities. Whether it is the group officially calling themselves Anonymous, or the astroturf Balanced Copyright group, they will attack the property rights and/or copyright of others without the honesty of doing so under their real names as citizens.

There are exceptions, and it is far easier to have legitimate policy debates with engaged citizens. On the other side of the debate from where I stand are people like Barry Sookman and James Gannon from the law firm McCarthy Tétrault, John Degen as an individual author (Previously with PSAC), or Jason J Kee who is currently Director of Policy and Legal Affairs for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC).

Of these the individual who expresses opinions furthest from my own is likely Jason J Kee.

He is a nice enough person to meeting face-to-face, friendly, and has never been rude in person. I've made a point of saying "hi" whenever we are at the same event, most recently going out of my way to ask a question about ESAC's case when we were both audience members at a supreme court hearing. Most of our interactions are online, predominantly on Twitter.

We had another one of our public online disagreements on Friday morning as I was heading into work. Jason added himself to a twitter conversation between Tucows and Peter Braid, Member of Parliament, Kitchener-Waterloo when Tucows clarified "For the record @peterbraid, we do not support #C11.".

It has been frustrating how MPs abuse any support for even the smallest aspects of this omnibus bill and claim that means they support the whole bill. There are aspects of C-11 which I believe the government got right, but I am clearly strongly opposed to the passage of any "copyright" bill that contains access control technical measures, or use controls that are not closely tied to infringing activities.

The most interesting part of the conversation for me is what appears to be Jason admitting the true target of his lobbying in support of the "technological protection measures" aspect of Bill C-11. Jason was promoting platforms built on TPMs, and to back up his promotion he said the following:

Especially when piracy rates MUCH higher on "open" platforms than closed, indicating the opposite

I noticed he was continuously talking about TPMs on platforms, not TPMs on content. In my 4 things presentation on protecting property rights he is talking about the rights and interests associated with the computing hardware, not the copyrighted content.

An "open" platform is the general purpose computer case where either the hardware is unlocked, or where the user of the device has any keys to any locks (IE: they may have secured the device themselves).

A "closed" platform is one that is locked where the user does not have the keys. There is an honest and a dishonest way to create a closed platform, something I discussed in detail in a previous article: An honest expansion of cinema into the home.

The honest way to keep the keys from the user is to not sell the hardware to them, but to rent or otherwise allow them usage without purchase. This way property rights are respected, and like a landlord/tenant situation the person using the property is understood to be different than the owner of the property. We as a society would over time create appropriate laws to regulate that relationship such that the rights and interests of each party is respected.

Jason is primarily a promoter of the dishonest way in which to create a closed platform, which is to falsely claim to people acquiring video game consoles that they are "buying" the hardware even though they aren't offering to the purchaser what a reasonable consumer would be expecting. While misrepresenting the transaction, they lobby government to radically change the law such that the new owner does not receive all the legal rights from the previous owner after the sale. This is a complete disrespect for the property rights of the new owner of the video game console, turning on their head what the terms "sell" and "own" have meant for hundreds of years.

My interest in the copyright debate comes from my interest in protecting the property rights of technology owners. I wasn't concerned with copyright until it became obvious that some of the extremists were proposing attacking IT property rights as an alleged "solution" to their problem.

This is wrong on many fronts:

a) There has never been an independent (or even remotely legitimate) study that has indicated that non-owner locks on devices decreases infringement, or increased revenues for creators.

b) Even if revoking IT property rights did reduce infringement, can this "rob Peter to pay Paul" policy really be justified? I suspect if any independent (or even remotely legitimate) study was done it would be found that the harm to the economy of legalizing non-owner locks on the technology that forms the means of production/distribution in the new economy is orders of magnitude worse than any amount of copyright infringement. I really believe we are talking about something as outrageous as believing that amputation is a valid medical procedure to deal with a distressing paper cut.

I continue to thank Jason for being willing to put his name beside his ideas, as offensive as his ideas appear to be. I believe he and the association he works for are as disrespectful of the property rights of technology owners as the Pirate Bay is disrespectful of the rights of copyright holders. He is not, however, offered the ability to have a public back-and-forth dialog with directors of the Pirate Bay or similar organizations.

Previous mentions of Jason in this blog: