RE: Let's Talk about Bill C-11: An Informal Dialogue

The following was sent out to guests of an informal dialog held on March 6, 2012.

Dear Guests and Supporters,

I would like to thank all of you for the lively discussion on Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act. Special thanks go to Hon. MP Geoff Regan, Hon. Senator Wilfred Moore, Tamir Israel and David Fewer (unable to attend) from Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), and Russell McOrmond from for accepting our invitation to attend this discussion.

I would also like to recognize the contribution of Anthony Whitehead, Director of Carleton School of Information Technology (CSIT), Carleton University Students Association (CUSA), and Vanessa Davies from Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in helping organize this event.

The discussion allowed faculty members and students to get more information about Bill C-11 and its implications, and to express their concerns as both developers and users of digital media content and technology. Many issues in the Bill C-11 have been correctly identified which were discussed in our meeting. While agreeing with those, I believe the main problem is that the Bill does not solve the real problem! This is caused by a lack of vision of what a real digital economy in 21st century should be and the role of government and its regulations in shaping that economy. While the new technology provides, and in fact demands, a new business model for creating and distributing content, the dominant approach in Canadian policy-making, illustrated by Bill C-11, seems to be a series of costly, yet ineffective, patchwork to keep the old model running. Some of these policies may be good (like allowing fair use in education) and some may be harmful (like digital locks), but all of them are just patches nonetheless. Copyright laws will not work if we lose the sight of the bigger picture, i.e. the need for a modern system for creating and distributing content, and they will end up being ineffective due to unavoidable counter technologies and/or harmful by taking away the basic rights of the users.

People have been sharing books for centuries. Not only this has not harmed the publishing industry, it has promoted book-reading and helped that industry in the long run. File-sharing, in the same way, is not a serious threat to the music or film industries, but their own unreasonable pricing and distribution systems are, caused by an out-dated business model that those industries and unfortunately the government are trying hard to save.

Through our discussion we stated our opinion on how some truly modern distribution systems allow content to be accessed conveniently by the users while respecting the rights of the creators. We emphasized the fact that Canadian users, including our students, are not pirates and have no interest in stealing content, but they expect to receive the services they know are possible through modern technology. These services in turn allow them to perform their own creative work.

We realize the difficulties involved in reshaping an old system but hope the government will understand its responsibility to Canadian people, and not just some corporations incapable of adapting to a new era, and can put the issue of copyright in the more general perspective of digital economy and modern content creation/distribution systems.

Best regards,
Ali Arya

Associate Professor, IMD Program Coordinator
School of Information Technology, Carleton University, Ottawa