Bill C-11 house debate day 8

On February 8, 2012 we had the 8th time when the House of Commons debated Bill C-11 (at Second Reading). The previous debate day was December 12, 2011.

The debate started with Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC) moving a time allocation motion:

That, in relation to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, not more than two further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the Bill; and

that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the second day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Obviously since this is a majority government, any motion that is in order that the Conservatives wish to pass will be passed.

The Conservatives are correct in saying that people have been allowed to talk about this bill for many hours. The reason people are concerned is that it is clear the Conservatives are not listening. The most controversial and most often spoken about part of the bill, the far-beyond-WIPO technological protection measures, remain largely unchanged from the first copyright bill tabled by the Conservatives on June 12, 2008, bill C-61.

While is true that other unrelated aspects of the bill have been modified, some largely for marketing purposes as they wouldn't impact peoples daily lives (IE: finally legalizing activities like time shifting with VCR/PVRs, something most Canadians assumed was already legal), the good in the bill pales in comparison to the harm that will be caused by the TPM section.

Once the debate on the time allocation motion was finished, we moved to debate on the bill.

Some were tweeting at the time that opponents of C-11 may be surprised that some NDP were opposed to the bill because of C-11's expansion of fair dealings, lack of resale right, and other such things. The fact is that this is a complex bill, and it would be impossible to agree with someone on everything.

For me the core issues are having "access control" TPMs in copyright law at all, having "use control" TPMs untied to otherwise copyright infringing activity, and prohibiting the distribution of the hardware/software/knowledge required for technology owners to change the locks on their devices (AKA: "circumvention devices"). These policies are so bad that I would gladly give up all the good in any Copyright bill (including all clarifications of fair dealings) if we could fix the problems with the non-copyright/TPMs part of the bill. Ideal would be if any TPM legislation were added to the correct laws.

Bill C-11 really is two bills: a TPM (Paracopyright) bill and a Copyright bill. On the Copyright portion I largely agree with what the Conservatives say, but all that agreement is wiped out by their rejection of technology property rights incorporated in the TPM section of the bill.

Many Conservative MPs said words similar to what Mike Lake said: "The bill is all about finding the balance between the creators of copyright material and Canadian consumers."

This statement only mentions two of the 4 classes of owners whose rights are affected by the TPM section of bill C-11. On the Copyright part of the bill, he would be correct. On the TPM part of the bill he is forgetting (ignoring? rejecting?) the rights and interests of software authors and device owners. A government that seems blissfully unaware of the existance of key stakeholders, even while we visibly fight hard to protect our legitimate property rights from those who seek to infringe our rights, will only be capable of passing harmful laws.

Mrs. Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NDP) was the last speaker, and she left with the following appropriate quote of the most necessary minimum amendment to C-11:

In closing, NDP members agree with the people from Saint-Lambert who wrote: is in the best interest of Canadian consumers and creators alike to amend Bill C-11 to clearly link the act of circumvention to infringement, remove the all-encompassing ban on circumvention tools and establish a new TPM labelling provision.