Bill C-11 house debate day 9

On February 10, 2012 we had the 9th time when the House of Commons debated Bill C-11 (at Second Reading). The previous debate day was February 8, 2012.

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.

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ISP Reference

Russell, that's not an accurate description of ACTRA's position in the ISP reference. The question was strictly about who is subject to the Broadcasting Act, not what content is covered. It was taken for granted (as part of the reference question) that delivery of "broadcasting" (as defined in the Act) over the Internet would fall within the Act. This flows from the fact that he definition includes any "means of telecommunication". The definition is based on content and intention, not medium.

The Court's conclusion is that ISPs are not broadcasting undertakings, not that Internet content can't be broadcasting. Quite the contrary, the decision sets up the scenario in which content providers probably will be subject to regulation under the Broadcasting Act.

Thanks for clarification.

While I believe I suggested the same thing using different words, thanks for the clarification.

Obviously broadcasting can happen over any technology, including the Internet, but ACTRA was trying to target someone who wasn't committing acts of broadcasting simply because they were providing the connectivity. Like the ephemeral recordings policy debate, certain creator groups and/or intermediaries (collective societies) want to be able to "tax" (using term loosely) everyone involved in the communication.

Given the lobbying to amend C-11 to remove the clarifications on ephemeral recordings, it is obvious that this debate isn't over.

Note: Updated sentence that previously read "ACTRA is the same organization that recently lost a recent Supreme Court of Canada case where they were alleging that any communication over the Internet was "broadcasting" and thus should be subject to the Broadcast Act."