Laurel L. Russwurm

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘MPAA

C-11 ~ Copyright Fallacy #3

with 2 comments

Copyright "c" with Maple Leaf

“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.”

— Ben Sheffner, MPAA Content Protection Counsel, Reason TV: “Too Much Copyright”

That sounds serious.

But is it true?

Well, no.

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.

television

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.

movies

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:

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

June 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Copyright Update: C-11 and ACTA

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Canadian DMCA logo

Fortunately Bill C-11 has not yet become law.

Yet.

Unfortunately it is only a matter of time before our majority government passes this misguided “copyright modernization” legislation currently called Bill C-11.

[This is the exact same law that was called Bill C-32 by the previous Conservative Government. Earlier incarnations were known as Bill C-61: An Act to amend the Copyright Act (by the Conservatives), and Bill C-60: An Act to amend the Copyright Act (by the Liberals).]

Although Canadians have mounted waves of opposition against each succeeding incarnation of a “Canadian DMCA,” both Liberal and Conservative Canadian Governments have attempted to pass copyright legislation that’s clearly against Canadian interests.   Initially there was only supposition that the various drafts of a “Canadian DMCA” were produced in response to American pressure.  After all, the USTR has been spreading misinformation about supposed Canadian piracy for years, in spite of the fact that the American DMCA has not stopped American digital piracy levels from being far higher than ours.   Thanks to Wikileaks it is no longer an unsubstantiated guess: the Canadian government wants only to pass a Copyright Law that will make the American Government happy.

Four different Canadian Governments led by our two traditional ruling parties have tried to accomplish this, the previous efforts failed due to a combination of opposition and politics.

But this time it is different: our majority Conservative Government can pass anything it likes.

The only possible way to stop it is for public outcry.  The problem is that most Canadians still don’t know this is happening or why it is important or what it will do.  The mainstream media coverage has not helped raise awareness because their corporate masters have a vested interest; after all, the MPAA and RIAA (through its branch plant formerly known as CRIA) have a very long reach.

TPM, DRM, Digital Locks

DRM technologies attempt to give control to the seller of digital content or devices after it has been given to a consumer. For digital content this means preventing the consumer access, denying the user the ability to copy the content or converting it to other formats. For devices this means restricting the consumers on what hardware can be used with the device or what software can be run on it.

Wikipedia: Digital rights management

The single reason that Bill C-11 will be so devastating is that it sets TPM (Technical Protection Measures) as the most powerful element of Canadian copyright law.   TPMs (also known as copy protection) are the main weapon used in the DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) arsenal, and are commonly referred to as “Digital Locks” in Canada.

Whatever you call it, it will be terrible for Canadians.   It won’t matter if a person has legally purchased a copy of an eBook,  game, a movie or music, if Canadians need to circumvent TPMs in order to read, play watch or listen to our own legal copies, we will be breaking the law.  If I want to watch a movie DVD on my Linux computer, I won’t be able to.  Linux users will be forced to switch to Apple or Windows operating systems of they want to watch their DVDs.  If I want to format shift any digital media I’ve purchased so that it will play on the device of my choosing, I won’t be able to without breaking the law.

Does this mean it will be illegal to have my printer’s ink cartridges refilled with off brand ink? Probably. I was foolish enough to buy a printer that has computer chips in its printer cartridges. The chip tells the printer not to work because a certain amount of ink has been used or the printer cartridge is too old. Bypassing that programming may well be considered circumvention of the manufacturer’s technical protection measures. After all, to be protected under the new Bill C-11 Copyright Law, TPMs won’t have to be tied to any actual copyright infringement or criminal wrongdoing.

This is not a good thing for consumers.

Once this law is passed, I imagine that it will be only a matter of time before every digital device and most software destined for the Canadian market will be tightly locked in DRM.  Further, as a self publishing Canadian writer, my further concern is also that digital locks may well be used to limit distribution of my own work.

Why did Canada sign ACTA?

The speed with which digital innovation and the Internet have set the world on end is unprecedented; even Malcolm Gladwell, one of Canada’s brightest sons doesn’t get it. So I’m inclined to think that the largest problems is that most of our government doesn’t understand the issues.

It is unreasonable to expect elected officials to understand everything. They are only human, after all, and so they can’t. What they must do, is to find out about each issue as it arises, and the fastest way to do this is to consult with the experts. The problem that has arisen is that the experts governments the world over rely on when forging laws to govern this new technology are the mainstream media. And the mainstream media has a clear and present interest in both copyright and and controlling technological innovation.

It is very possible that C-11 is intended as a law to allow Canadian compliance with the dreadful ACTA Trade Agreement.

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo

ACTA is one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet. ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small “club” of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.

ACTA, a blueprint for laws such as SOPA and PIPA, would impose new criminal sanctions forcing Internet actors to monitor and censor online communications. It is thus a major threat to freedom of expression online and creates legal uncertainty for Internet companies. In the name of trademarks and patents, it would also hamper access to generic medicines in poor countries.”

La Quadrature Du Net

Although Canadian negotiators were included in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations, sitting members of parliament and the public were deliberately kept in the dark as to what ACTA was about. Although ACTA is supposed to stand for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agrement” the prime reason for its secrecy was the copyright law provisions.

Among those who are aware of ACTA, its agenda is believed to be that of the American movie and music industries. These Industries have been investing unprecedented amounts of time and money in attempts to coerce sovereign nations around the world to enact copyright laws beneficial to their special interests.

In spite of the fact that the final round of ACTA negotiations failed to achieve consensus in the secret negotiations, some time later Canada went ahead and signed the treaty anyway. The European Parliament signed ACTA a few days after the SOPA protest, but it must pass a plenary vote this summer before it will be official.

Oh! Canada: Memo to World: Stop ACTA Now!

Stop The Canadian DMCA

NO Canadian DMCACopyright law has always been concerned with Intellectual Property, but Bill C-11 strays into the realm of physical property. A law that prevents citizens from making personal use of our own legally purchased media on the digital devices of our choices strays beyond the realm of intellectual into the realm of physical property. Making all circumvention illegal is equivalent to putting citizens in jail for breaking into our own home of we’ve inadvertently locked ourselves out.

Bill C-11 is *not* in the Canadian interest.

More information can be found in my Oh! Canada article
“Bill C-11 Backgrounder: A Brief History of the Canadian DMCA” and What to do about Bill C-11 ?

Technical Aspects: check Russell McOrmond’s Conservative Copyright Bill C-11

Legal Aspects: Michael Geist – latest post includes the video short Strombo’s Soapbox: My Take on Bill C-11

Bill C-11 Status

Keep up with the status of this problematic draft legislation by checking LEGISinfo.

@lessig postscript

with one comment

Probably what bothered me most, and prompted my earlier post @lessig: unfollow? was what I perceived to be a summary order issued by Lawrence Lessig to those of us who subscribe to his Identi.ca feed or follow him on Twitter. It seems I’m not the only one to become upset with his microblog comment. But he really didn’t mean it in the way it sounded, and today @lessig let some of us noisier microbloggers know that he’d meant no offense.

follow-up micro blog

Lawrence Lessig is an Internet luminary. He’s a legendary copyfighter, one of the founders of Creative Commons as well as founding Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society . He’s on the board of The Software Freedom Law Center as well as a former Electronic Frontier Foundation board member.

And Lessig has done a great deal already to make the world a better place for me and my family, and you and yours, with his iwork on copyright and Internet governance. He didn’t have to justify himself to us, but he cleared the air just the same. If anything I’m more impressed with Mr. Lessig than ever for taking the time to correct a total stranger’s misunderstanding. After all, some of my radical copyright notions have been informed by reading or listening to his words. So I’m glad I was wrong.

Of course, this doesn’t stop me from having issues around the “Pledge” promo, particularly with respect of privacy but also with the Paramount promo and profit from the film.

@lessig took the time to explain that he is not happy with the very same privacy issue, but his goal is to get the film made and out there. And Paramount can provide wide distribution to do it.

So I think I understand where he’s coming from, but I continue to be concerned. So I will reiterate my main concerns here:

Privacy

To make the pledge, you must surrender your email address, your zip code and your Date of Birth…. Hmmm… Isn’t it the EFF that cautions people about giving out personal identifiers, because it only takes three identifiers and it’s hasta la vista privacy?

The personal Information submitted there will be shared by Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, TakePart and Walden Media

You agree to the TakePart website’s terms of use and TakePart Privacy Policy , and if you have any stamina left you can see the Paramount Pictures Privacy Policy and the Walden Media Privacy Policy to know what you are agreeing to.

There are three, count them THREE privacy policies as well as a website “Terms of Use” agreement that you are committing to if you make the pledge. You pretty much need a lawyer to protect yourself before signing this thing. What is this? Data mining?

education funding?

Fund raising for Paramount Pictures is a backward way of funding education.

People in the documentary business don’t get rich. I don’t know what a major movie studio like Paramount budgets for a feature film documentary but if it’s a million dollars I’d be very surprised. Even before digital cameras and Internet distribution brought the costs down enormously, I suspect that $100,000 would have been considered big budget for most documentaries.

So although I don’t have numbers or contracts, I do know that no matter how good this film is, the cost to make it will not come anywhere close to what a feature film would cost. If Paramount was making this documentary as a good deed, after costs are recouped all of the income from it should rightly go to help the cause: the failing American education system. But I doubt very much that Paramount has any intention to walk away without also making a profit.

In which case Paramount Pictures stands to gain from the plight of the American school children in this film.

Particularly at a time when the MPAA, which certainly includes Paramount in its membership, is spending vast amounts of industry funding lobbying for A.C.T.A. around the world. In fact, right now many Canadians are anxiously waiting to find out of our government is going to try to foist a Canadian DMCA on our legislature.

If the only a fraction of what the MPAA spends lobbying for A.C.T.A. was spent on schools, every American public school could be a charter school.

I’m not sure how it works in the United States, but a lot of the erosion in Canadian public services– like education– over the past few decades seems a direct result of the fact that these days big businesses pays little or no tax.

Maybe we should be challenging the way education is financed rather than fund raising for the MPAA.
Side view of Yellow Laidlaw school bus

@lessig: unfollow?

with 2 comments

One way I keep up with interesting stuff and learning more about important issues is through the microblogging services Identi.ca and Twitter. I subscribe to feeds from people who can keep me up to date on what’s happening in the world.

Lawrence Lessig is an Internet luminary. He’s a legendary copyfighter, one of the founders of Creative Commons as well as founding Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society . He’s on the board of The Software Freedom Law Center as well as a former Electronic Frontier Foundation board member.

Having blogged a bit about Mr. Lessig’s LIVE! Wireside Chat on Twitter in February I am aware of his advocacy for government reform. So naturally when I found @lessig on Twitter and Identi.ca I subscribed to his feeds.

But today on Identi.ca I was surprised to see @lessig posting this:

Totally seriously: don't follow me if you've not taken the pledge @lessig on Identi.ca today

So I thought I’d check into it. After all, if it’s something Lawrence Lessig thinks is important it’s probably worth checking out, right?

So what is this “pledge”?

When I looked, what read like four different links in @lessig’s Identi.ca posts all take you to the same place which is actually a movie promotion website.

The site’s opening screen gives you a multiple choice question, most commonly one like this:

What percentage of students in Alaska will not graduate in four years?

  • a. 30%
  • b. 34%
  • c. 12%
  • d. 25%

And the answer is:

In Alaska, 34% of students will not graduate
from high school with a regular diploma in
4 years. Dropouts from the class of 2008
alone will cost Alaska almost $1 billion in
lost wages over their lifetimes.”

Every pledge counts and together we can save our schools.

Waiting For Superman

If you refresh the screen, you’ll usually get the same question about another state. Once in a while it is some other appalling statistic, like:

Since 1983 over 10 million Americans have reached 12th grade without learning to read at a basic level”

Waiting For Superman

or

Each School Day 7000 students in the US drop out ”

Waiting For Superman

It wasn’t difficult to figure out that the multiple choice question with the highest percentage is always the correct answer.

I refreshed it a bunch of times and came up with this partial list:

In Virginia 31% of students will not graduate from high school with a regular diploma….
22% of students in Pennsylvania
35%
in Texas
44%
in New Mexico
28%
in West Virginia
23%
in South Dakota
28%
in Utah
34%
in Delaware
24%
in Massachusetts
26%
in Indiana
38%
in Louisiana
28%
in Arkansas
24%
in Maine
27%
in Colorado
23%
in Idaho
34%
in South Carolina
37%
in North Carolina
26%
in Ohio
30%
in Tennessee
36%
in Hawaii
28%
in Kentucky
32%
in California
21%
in Nebraska
32%
in New York
44%
in Georgia
18%
in New Jersey
53%
from Nevada
42%
in Florida
21%
in North Dakota
21%
in Connecticut
26%
in Maryland
19%
in Iowa
38%
in Washington
28%
in Kentucky
26%
in Missouri

Puzzle Map of the USA

If I was an American parent, I’d be seriously looking at moving to New Jersey. Their 18 percent looks especially good coming right before Nevada’s 53%

Clearly the American education system needs some help. It’s in pretty bad shape if these statistics are to be believed.

Waiting for Superman is a feature length documentary, apparently an exposeé of the American public education system made by Oscar Winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim, most famous for his 2006 film made An Inconvenient Truth.

In Canada…

Red Maple Leaf graphic
Education is managed provincially. In my early years of PTA membership fundraising and all authority over education was wrested from individual school boards by the provincial government, supposedly to ensure all schools got the same funding. In spite of tremendous protest against this sweeping change the law passed because we had a majority government.

The Government did tell the truth: all Ontario schools now get the same funding. Of course they didn’t increase funding for poorer schools, but rather decreased funding for richer schools, who are still ahead of the game thanks to fund raising.

Before that, education used to be funded according to the need, now it’s funded according to the funding formula. All the tax dollars, which used to be kept separate, now disappear into the provincial coffers. Poorer schools are probably worse off since the introduction of province wide testing gives bonus funding to the schools that do well on the tests. I’ve spent many years in the education trenches as a parent volunteer, a PTA member, and a fundraiser. I do understand how important education is for our kids.

But.

The point of this website is to convince people to:

Make a Difference: Pledge to see the Film

When you go to the pledge page, you discover that the pledge is to see the movie.

exterior movie theatre

This is where they lost me.

And I can certainly understand the power of a good documentary, especially if the message can receive wide release. It’s a wonderful way to get a message out.

If 50,000 people make the pledge, the website promises 250,000 books will go to programs across the U.S.

From my fund raising days, I can tell you schools don’t just want any old books, they want the specific books needed to fill the holes in their curriculum that exist because of funding cuts. In fact, schools and school libraries get rid of books they don’t need or that are inappropriate or factually out of date.

So my question here is:

What books?

250,000 inappropriate books isn’t going to help anybody’s kids.

What programs?
It doesn’t specify public school programs. Maybe Private school programs? Literacy programs? YMCA programs? Weght loss programs? What? This is an incredibly vague promise.

The books might be great, or they might be useless. Certainly their value will be far less than the income Paramount makes from ticket sales.

The lowest rung on the pledge scale is for Paramount Pictures to get 50,000 bums in theatre seats for this movie.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies, but lets say ten bucks a ticket, that could be $500,000 in ticket sales. The scale goes up to 1,000,000 pledges… $100,000,000 gross? Even if Paramount has to spend a few million on school books, that is still a heck of a return on a documentary. So we can see what Paramount is getting out of it.

But that’s not all.

Personally Identifiable

To make the pledge, you must surrender your email address, your zip code and your Date of Birth…. Hmmm… Isn’t it the EFF that cautions people about giving out personal identifiers, because it only takes three identifiers and it’s hasta la vista privacy?

Law Degree Necessary

The personal Information submitted there will be shared by Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, TakePart and Walden Media

You agree to the TakePart website’s terms of use and TakePart Privacy Policy , and if you have any stamina left you can see the Paramount Pictures Privacy Policy and the Walden Media Privacy Policy to know what you are agreeing to.

There are three, count them THREE privacy policies as well as a website “Terms of Use” agreement that you are committing to if you make the pledge. You pretty much need a lawyer to protect yourself before signing this thing. What is this? Data mining?

Has Lawrence Lessig’s Identi.ca account been hacked?

Lawrence Lessig has worked long and hard fighting for sane copyright reform. Creative Commons is an awesome accomplishment. He has helped many of us to understand some of the problems facing the future. He has worked long and hard to try to safeguard the Internet.

If the account hasn’t been hacked, if this is really Lawrence Lessig, why would he be making such a dubious suggestion.

Although I guess it wasn’t really a suggestion. It sounded more like an order actually.

@lessig said:
“totally seriously: don’t follow me if you’ve not taken the pledge”

If Lawrence Lessig wants the kind of “follower” that will blindly do whatever he says that lets me out since I’m in the habit of thinking for myself. I suspect “the pledge” wouldn’t work for me because I’m a Canadian, but of I was an American I wouldn’t sign it either.

But maybe I’ve interpreted this wrong.

So I haven’t clicked “unsubscribe” just yet. Perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps it was a hack, or an error in judgement. Maybe he’ll respond to my identi.ca question, or this.

education funding?

Fund raising for Paramount Pictures is a backward way of funding education.

Paramount Gate

Particularly at a time when the MPAA, which certainly includes Paramount in its membership, is spending vast amounts of industry funding lobbying for A.C.T.A. around the world. In fact, right now many Canadians are anxiously waiting to find out of our government is going to try to foist a Canadian DMCA on our legislature.

If the only a fraction of what the MPAA spends lobbying for A.C.T.A. was spent on schools, every American public school could be a charter school.

I’m not sure how it works in the United States, but a lot of the erosion in Canadian public services– like education– over the past few decades seems a direct result of the fact that these days big business pays little or no tax.

Maybe we should be challenging the way education is financed rather than fund raising for the MPAA.
Side view of Yellow Laidlaw school bus


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[Photo Credits:
Flickr Photo by Marxchivist/Tom: A.M. Walzer Co. United States Inlay Puzzle

Laidlaw School bus (released into the public domain by Dori

Paramount Pictures photo by Smart Destinations

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