Archive for June 2012
Yesterday, Bill C-11 received Royal Assent; it has passed into Canadian Law.
However, it will not take effect immediately. The Government gets to decide when it goes into effect, and may first incorporate regulations before it does, which may not be for a matter of months.
In the normal course of things, that would likely be January 1st, 2013. But considering the intensity of lobbying by the American special interest groups, it could just as easily happen next Friday.
So, today, it is no longer “Bill C-11,” but the “Copyright Modernization Act”.
The original attempt to foist a Canadian DMCA on Canada was made by the last Canadian Liberal Minority Government with Bill C-60. There was an unprecedented amount of public outcry against C-60, and the government fell before its passage.
Bill C-61 was the first Conservative Minority Government’s legislation drafted to do the same thing: satisfy American copyright reform pressure. This draft legislation also received incredibly strong public opposition, and the government fell before its passage.
The next Conservative Minority Government chose to conduct a public Copyright Consultation before reintroducing new copyright reform legislation. More than eight thousand Canadians responded to the call for public input. I doubt there has ever been that level of response to any such Government Public consultation, particularly on any subject as esoteric as copyright law.
The responses to this public consultation came from copyright collectives to individuals. Some advocated longer stronger copyright, others advocated less to none. Across the spectrum of responses, the vast majority of submissions agreed that making the circumvention of TPMs (Technological Protection Measures) illegal would be detrimental to Canada.
When the Conservative Minority Government introduced its new draft copyright legislation, Bill C-32, it actually did incorporate some of the reforms Canadians asked for in the Copyright Consultation. Unfortunately, C-32 also enshrined anti-circumvention provisions of Technical Protection Measures as the most powerful part of the legislation. Incredibly, circumvention of TPMs (more familiarly called DRM) would be illegal under Bill C-32 regardless of whether or not any copyright is infringed. If your DVD player refuses to play your home movies because it judges them copyright infringement, and you manage to circumvent this, under Bill C-32 this would make you a criminal.
Again, there was a great deal of opposition to Bill C-32, but it never made it to law, because the minority Conservative Government fell. In the ensuing Federal Election, one of the things the Conservatives pledged to do if they received a majority would be to pass their copyright reform law.
So it wasn’t terribly surprising that the Bill C-11 draft legislation was a true copy of Bill C-32. More disturbing, however, was that the government refused to hear arguments against C-11 that had been made against C-32. And worse, the process was fast tracked.
After speeding through the House of Commons, the day Bill C-11 was sent up to the Senate it appeared on the agenda. Subsequent Senate consideration fell well short of “sober second thought,” as it received Royal Assent within two weeks.
It is still early in the 41st Canadian Parliament, yet the Copyright Modernization Act, like other unpopular measures being pushed through by the current Conservative Majority Government, was pushed through very quickly, with minimal scrutiny and debate. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for the government to have rushed this process, as the government majority made its passage pretty much a foregone conclusion.
TPMs = DRM
In some ways, the Copyright Modernization Act may appear beneficial, but all of the perceived benefits can be blocked by the anti-circumvention provisions.
Copyright is a legal monopoly created by the state. Technological Protection Measures are more commonly known as DRM (variously “Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management“). Of no little concern is that the TPMs that will now enjoy the full protection of the law will stifle innovation and independent Canadian cultural work.
A further very serious concern of mine is that most Canadians have absolutely no idea that the provisions of the Copyright Modernization Act will make them into criminals.
“The damage that piracy does is very deep. If left unchecked, it will really have an impact on the number and quality of movies and television shows produced.”
That sounds serious.
But is it true?
The reality is that the number and quality of movies and television shows produced by Hollywood has actually plummeted all the while American copyright terms have been “strengthened” and extended.
Over and over again.
In the 1950′s a television season ran as many as 39 episodes, but a series today is lucky to manage two dozen.
Hundreds of television channels may be available but how much of what’s there is of value? Programming created by the big television networks is often pretty awful.
It’s no longer possible to access analogue television broadcasts over the air in Canada, and I’ve happily not subscribed to cable tv for years now. “Reality TV” signalled the beginning of the end. I still watch “television”, but it comes on dvds, and I only need bother with the good stuff.
Fewer Hollywood movies are made every year, so there is far less to choose from on the big screen as well.
Consumers have a finite amount of disposable income, and competition lowers profits, so greater profits can be realized from fewer movies.
Hollywood is primarily interested in sequels and remakes because they are the safest way to make profit. Safety rarely produces good art, which is why the most interesting cinema fare seems to be produced by the independents who assume the risks, and then, if successful, find a Hollywood distribution deal.
Ironically, I haven’t seen a movie in a cinema in years. Again, there is little selection to choose from in Canada, where we’re down to a single first run theatre chain. Without competition, what’s on offer is the same everywhere.
Better (and cheaper) selection can be found in the dvd remainder bins at my local super market or video store.
what copyright does
Copyright law allows Hollywood to realize the most profit out of the least amount of product. It is, in fact, the unchecked expansion of copyright law that has proven to have the most detrimental impact on the number and quality of movies and television shows produced.
what Canada’s Bill C-11 will do
Canada’s Bill C-11 “The Copyright Modernization Act,” makes it illegal for Canadians to bypass “Technological Protection Measures” or TPMs (what the rest of the world calls “DRM”) for any reason.
If a TPM prevents you from playing the digital copy of a movie you’ve purchased on the device of your choice, and you bypass this “digital lock”, you will be breaking the law. The only way you will be able to legally view the movie on the device of your choice, would be to buy a new copy. And of course, if the device of your choice is a GNU/Linux computer, you won’t be able to play any commercial movies at all.
Bill C-11 is a real plum for the Copyright Lobby, but still, it won’t be enough to satisfy Hollywood. They want longer and stronger copyright law to reduce the depth of the cultural playing field even more, to eliminating competition and eroding the public domain through perpetual copyright.
Which is, of course, the real goal.
Canada’s majority government today passed Bill C-11, the co-called “Copyright Modernization Act” in spite of unprecedented Canadian opposition. The tragedy is most Canadians are unaware of copyright issues and don’t yet realize the growing impact it exerts over our daily lives.
This is the third in my C-11 Copyright Series:
A friend shared this list on Facebook, and at first it sounded right, but then it didn’t.
5 Simple Rules For Happiness
- Free your heart from hatred
- Free your mind from worries
- Live simply
- Give more
- Expect Less
I wish I could go along with it, but I can’t, really.
Because, you see, I did all of these things so I could stay home to raise the world’s greatest kid. And I did (and it was worth it!) But in that short time when I wasn’t paying close attention to the world, or allowing myself to worry about the things I couldn’t change, the world has gone to hell.
Although a lot of people date the problems we face now to the fall of the Twin Towers, I think we were on this path long before. The Twin Towers simply offered an excuse to suspend the rights and liberties people used to have. I think that the real problem for the west began with what should have been a good thing: the fall of the Berlin Wall and everything that went with it. That seems to have freed up our supposedly democratic western governments to cease to even pretend to serve the the people.
- Free your heart from hatred ~ YES: this is unproductive
- Free your mind from worries ~ NO: if we bury our heads in the sand, we can’t correct the problems that should worry us
- Live simply ~ YES/NO not at the expense of living fully
- Give more ~ YES: to family, friends, society, those without ~ NO: to corporations
- Expect Less ~ WRONG!
If we expect less, we will get less.
We deserve *more*
including (but not limited to:
- more clean air,
- more clean water,
- more responsible environmental stewardship,
- more government transparency, accountability and responsiveness,
- more protection of our civil rights,
- more accessible education,
- more inclusion,
- more understanding,
- more empathy,
- more privacy,
- more culture,
- more choice,
- more dignity,
- more respect
- more tolerance,
- more sharing,
- more kindness,
- more protection of society’s weakest members
If we all expect less, our government allows big corporations to continue to take more and more,
- poisoning our environment,
- tossing aside human rights, and
- bankrupting our economy.