This was the last day of debate before the bill is sent to committee at second reading. In some ways we have returned to the same position we were a little less than a year ago when the government fell in March 2011. In other ways it appears that the general public, who will be greatly impacted by this bill, are far more engaged than they were at that time.
The debate in the house mentioned some of that increased citizen engagement, but there evidence that the debate between politicians has advanced. Conservatives continue to speak as if there are only two stakeholders impacted by Bill C-11 (copyright holders and "users"), blissfully ignoring the rights and interests of software authors and technology owners (and sometimes the conflict of interests of some software authors). While I continue to believe the conservative base would be as opposed to C-11 TPMs as I am if they understood it, there is little evidence that Conservative MPs have spent any time contemplating the impact of their own bill on technology property rights.
Conservatives continue to list people as supporters who have offered some support to the bill, but who have been strongly opposed to the TPM provisions (and thus to the overall bill). I suspect they would list me as a supporter given I agree with parts, even though I disagree so strongly with the TPM provisions I believe Canada would be far better with no bill at all than passing this one.
Mr. Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber, NDP), past ACTRA National Vice-President, had an interesting speech where he suggested that C-11 inappropriately removed remuneration for artists. While his speech focused on independent artists, the only place in the Copyright part of C-11 that I've seen legitimate concern is around educational copyright. In that case it really is collective societies under the control of largely foreign educational publishers and educational institutions: not something that relates to independent artists. ACTRA is the same organization that recently lost a recent Supreme Court of Canada case over whether ISPs should be be subject to the Broadcasting Act simply because some of the communications that happen over the Internet might be broadcasting. These folks appear totally divorced from what would benefit independent artists in Canada, and appear to attack rather than embrace new communications technology and services.
I mention Mr. Benskin to draw attention to the fact that, if not for the extreme disregard for the rights of software authors and technology owners represented in the TPMs section of Bill C-11, I suspect most of the current opponents to C-11 would have been supporters. It is frustrating that the government appears to ignore the fact that fixing a part of the bill that has minimal legitimate connection to copyright at all would handle much of the controversy with the bill.
That said, even Mr. Benskin offered skepticism that "digital locks" would offer anything to creators. In his case he said they "only serve the producers of the work", even though producers don't hold the keys to those locks (the device manufacturers do). At least he recognizes that it is not the creators who hold the keys, and thus recognized that creators would not benefit from these locks.