Reining in the rhetoric on copyright reform

One of the other participants in the copyright reform debate that uses a chicken little "theft is theft" inflation of the harm to copyright holders from infringement, while continuing to dismiss the legitimate rights and interests of technology owners and others impacted by their promoted policy proposals, is McCarthy Tétrault lawyer (and registered CRIA/MPAA/etc lobbiest) Barry Sookman (Search for Sookman on this blog).

He wrote an article on the Financial Post and his blog claiming that it was people who disagreed with his extreme rhetoric who were the ones who were making outrageous claims. While Michael Geist offered a point-by-point rebuttle of Sookman, I posted some comments to his blog which I will repost here.

Canada should not ratify ACTA

I have drafted a new submission to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for their ongoing consultation (skip to bottom) on the deceptively named Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). I haven't yet sent it in to the department, but want to generate discussion.

It is available anonymously as a Google Doc as well as a PDF from my webserver.

If you are looking for SOPA/PIPA or C-11 comparisons, please note that ACTA contains beyond-WIPO protection for TPMs and thus includes the harmful effects I discussed in my comparison between Bill C-11 and SOPA/PIPA?.

Is Bill C-11 related to SOPA/PIPA?

Probably the claim you will read most often in recent weeks from my friendly archvillain Jason J Kee on his twitter feed is that, There is NO COMPARISON b/t #C11 & SOPA. While he is playing with words when he makes this claim, I think it is useful to discuss the narrow way in which he is correct as well as the ways he is trying to distract people from the similarities.

Copyright restrictions must make sense for entire term of copyright

One of the other topics that my friendly archvillain Jason J Kee and I touched on via twitter on Friday was the term of copyright.

I remembered that when he was in front of the C-32 committee he claimed that the format shifting aspects of C-32 (Now C-11) didn't apply to video games. He started to make similar claims in our discussion, started by the claim that "by definition, software is never platform neutral", and later that there is "no reasonable consumer expectation to format shift games".

If you only consider the few months after a video game is released, when the most money is currently made by the game developer, Jason's suggestions my appear reasonable. Games tend to push the limits of the hardware they are designed for, and thus are tied to that hardware for the time when those limits still apply.

Unfortunately, the government granted monopoly of copyright last far more than a few months or a few years.

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.

Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton on C-11

Copied from a post to the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group.



Good Afternoon Samuel:

Thank you for your recent correspondence on the Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act. I appreciate your comments and concerns and welcome the opportunity to respond.

Bill C-11, The Copyright Modernization Act, is an effort to modernize Canada's copyright laws and align them with international standards on the use and sharing of creative material. Once implemented, the Bill will promote innovation and creativity in Canada's arts community. It is an attempt to ensure Canada can compete in the digital economy.

Response from Honourable Steven Fletcher on C-11

A familiar looking form letter copied from a post to the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group.



Good afternoon,

Minister Fletcher has asked me to respond to your email and thank you for taking the time to contact our office.

Recognizing the critical role a modern copyright regime plays in Canada’s digital economy, the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to introduce and seek swift passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users.

Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge on C-11

A familiar looking form letter copied from a post to the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group.



Hi [Constituent name]

Thank you for contacting our office regarding Bill C-11. Please accept my apologies for the delay in response.

Recognizing the critical role a modern copyright regime plays in Canada’s digital economy, the Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to introduce and seek swift passage of copyright legislation that balances the needs of creators and users.

Reply from Nycole Turmel (+Copy of Charlie Angus reply) on C-11

Copied from a post to the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group.


Thank you for taking the time to write regarding Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act. We appreciate having the benefit of your comments and the opportunity to let you know more about our work on a number of these legislative concerns.

New Democrats want updated copyright laws to balance the rights of artists, consumers and rights-holders. We believe that Canada needs effective legislation to ensure artists’ royalties are protected; long-distance education opportunities aren’t hindered; and that young people aren’t subject to unfair, expensive fines.

That’s why we will not be supporting Bill C-11 unless the government is willing to amend the digital lock provisions and restore royalty provisions for artists.

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