What to do about Bill C-11 ?

Canadian DMCA logoI should be getting ready for NaNoWriMo. The problem is that the danger to Canadian culture posed by Bill C-11, the so called “Copyright Modernization Act,” currently moving toward becoming law, is simply too great to ignore.

I can’t ignore this and expect to get anywhere with my next novel. So I’ve decided to try to post something about C-11 every day (after making my NaNoWriMo word count 🙂 Because both my self publishing efforts and writing my third novel during NaNo will claim most of my time, these posts will be much shorter than my usual blog posts.

The Canadian DMCA in Today’s News

boingboing logo

Cory Doctorow blogged about the response received by a Canadian citizen in answer to their C11 query from Conservative MP Lee Richardson, a member of the Standing Committee on Industry. Since copyright law falls under the joint purview of the Ministry of Heritage and the Ministry of Industry, Lee Richardson ought to be pretty well versed in this issue. Richardson is quoted as writing:

If a digital lock is broken for personal use, it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.”

— Conservative MP Lee Richardson
BoingBoing: Canadian Tory MP: Don’t worry about violating our stupid new copyright law, because we probably won’t catch you if you do

Cory Doctorow’s assessment is that this amounts to advice from the Government passing this law is:

“…you should go ahead and break the law because you won’t get caught.”

— Cory Doctorow
BoingBoing: Canadian Tory MP: Don’t worry about violating our stupid new copyright law, because we probably won’t catch you if you do

Now, I am not a lawyer, but if this is not the law’s intent, the law should say so. Just because the copyright holder might choose not to do this, is no guarantee that they won’t.

Bill C-11 clearly allows them to sue Canadians.

Particularly when there have been innumerable clear instances of corporate “patent trolls” suing unsuspecting citizens in the wake of the American DMCA and every similar copyright ‘reform’ enacted around the world.

If this is *not* the government’s intent, this part of Bill C11 must be changed.

The Canadian Government should not be encouraging citizens to ignore Canadian law.

what we can do

I believe there are various petitions being gotten up, but I urge all concerned Canadians to tell the government that we do not support the digital lock provisions in Bill C-11. Sending an email is a stronger message than signing a digital petition. The message you send doesn’t have to be long and involved. Just weigh in and tell them what you think before this law is passed.

Write to Members of the Legislative Committee on Bill C-11:

[28 October UPDATE 2011-10-28T15:48:49+00:00]

Bill C-11 Legislative Committee Chair: Glenn Thibeaultof the NDP has been named as the Bill C-11 Legislative Committee Chair
email: glenn.thibeault@parl.gc.ca

Dean Del Mastro, Conservative, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
email: dean.delmastro@parl.gc.ca
Paul Calandra, Conservative Parliamentary Secretary to the Heritage Minister
email: paul.calandra@parl.gc.ca
Mike Lake, Conservative Parliamentary secretary to the Industry Minister
email: mike.lake@parl.gc.ca
Scott Armstrong, Conservative
email: scott.armstrong@parl.gc.ca
Peter Braid, Conservative
email: peter.braid@parl.gc.ca
Phil McColeman, Conservative
email: phil.mccoleman@parl.gc.ca
Rob Moore, Conservative
email: rob.moore@parl.gc.ca
Charlie Angus, NDP Digital Affairs and Ethics Critic
email: charlie.angus@parl.gc.ca
Tyrone Benskin, NDP Heritage and Cultural Industries Critic
email: tyrone.benskin@parl.gc.ca
Andrew Cash, NDP
email: andrew.cash@parl.gc.ca
Pierre Nantel, NDP
email: pierre.nantel@parl.gc.ca
Geoff Regan, Liberal Critic for Consumer Affairs
email: geoff.regan@parl.gc.ca
As well, you can write to Heritage Minister James Moore
email: james.moore@parl.gc.ca
Industry Minister The Honourable Christian Paradis
email: minister.industry@ic.gc.ca
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
email: stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
and as always, your own MPP [Find your MP]

It is perfectly acceptable to send the same letter to all concerned, and although postal mail is taken more seriously, email is increasingly acceptable, particularly when time is of the essence.

If you have a blog (and if you don’t, it’s pretty easy to start one for free at WordPress) you can post your letter online, making sure to tag it with #C11 and #Canada and #Copyright. Talk to friends and family about this, as well as people in your social networks,because if this law passes as is, it will have serious repercussions to Canadian culture.

More Information

If you are looking for more information about this copyright law, you can use the search bar in my sidebar, or you can search the Internet. Bill C-11 is a word for word reincarnation of Bill C-32 in the last session of parliament, so searching for Bill C-32 will give you a lot of information and analysis.

The authorities I look to for C-11 information include:


My Submission to The Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 (CC32)

Canadian Copyright Law

January 31st, 2011

To: The Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 (CC32)

As a writer, one of the people copyright law is supposed to serve, I’m concerned with effects of Bill C-32 on my ability to use technology to create and disseminate my work.

I was willing to trade my creative sovereignty for the opportunity to have my work produced and distributed on television when I was young, because it was the only game in town. That was then. Today, advances in digital technology and the Internet have made a host of new options available to creators. And even though Canada’s current copyright law is problematic, Creative Commons has introduced work-arounds which make it possible for creators to release our “Intellectual Property” as we see fit.

Canada’s current copyright law is harmful to me as a creator, and there is evidence that it is harmful Canadian culture as a whole from aspects like copyright terms that are so long they are detrimental to both creator and public interest. Yet Bill C-32 doesn’t reduce copyright terms or protect the creator’s right to share.

There is also no justification for the existence of Crown Copyright in a democracy. Why doesn’t Bill C-32 follow the good American copyright example of releasing of government funded work directly into the public domain (on the understanding that taxpayers have already paid for it)?

Culture grows through sharing. It used to be Canadians bemoaned the lack of a Canadian “identity.” This cultural void was certainly tied in to the limited exposure Canadians had to our own culture since a few corporations controlled all of our culture.

Today’s combination of hardware, software, media devices, and the Internet makes it possible for creators to create and distribute our work directly to our audience. The new technology has been an incredible boon to both creators and consumers.

The independent Canadian music industry is ushering in an incredible golden age, in spite of the CD levy which penalizes independent creators. Canadians are leading the world with Independent music production and distribution. And nobody is looking for a “Canadian Identity” anymore since Canadian culture is thriving– through sharing– on the Internet. For the first time in more than half a century, Canadian musicians don’t have to sign away the rights to their music to get recorded and distributed.

Special Interest Groups
The major record labels find this a problem because as more musicians choose independence, the established record industry loses market share. CRIA used to own 99% of the recording industry. Now they’re lucky if they have 70% of it.

It’s a challenge for corporations. Historically it would have led to corporate adaptation or demise. Today’s conglomerates have instead chosen to influence legal change.

But copyright law should not be employed to force creators into unsatisfactory arrangements in an attempt to prop up an industry unwilling to adapt.

What is Copyright Law Supposed to Do?
Isn’t copyright supposed to recognize and support the creator’s authorship?

Where did the idea that copyright law was somehow responsible for monetizing the ‘intellectual property’ industry came from? It makes no sense at all. Isn’t it customary for Industry to establish business practices through negotiations and contracts?

If we are to accept this as a valid premise, and proceed to impose Bill C-32 legislation that runs contrary to societal expectation, why stop there? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to apply the same thinking to all other Canadian business endeavors? Instead of contracts and negotiation, the government could legislate precise terms for all industries. The government could set the rates of pay for each job, define the responsibilities. Is that what we want? I suspect we don’t. Why is copyright treated this way?

Copyright Control
The needs and best interests of corporations are almost always very different from the needs and best interests of human creators. Copyright should not be transferable, certainly not to corporations. At most, corporations should be limited to licensing copyright for a limited time. A great many of the current problems with copyright law are directly attributable to undue influence of corporations and copyright collectives. We have seen little or no input or consideration for the two most important copyright stakeholders: creators and citizens.

Copyright Collectives
Like corporations, the interests of copyright collectives can differ from the interests of the people who are members. But if membership needs would be better served by removal/reduction of the collective, the existing collective will work to ensure continued existence, even if it is contrary to the best interests of the membership.

Yet some copyright collectives have been vocal in claims they speak on behalf of their entire membership, while others have claimed to speak for all Canadian authors.

There has been copyright collective support for both the CD levy, as well as expansion of it, as well as opposition to the expansion of fair dealing in Bill C-32. That isn’t surprising because the collectives benefit financially from both of those misguided initiatives. That is my perspective as an independent writer, consumer and parent.

Canadian DMCA logo

Technical Protection Measures, Digital Rights Management, Digital Locks
Regardless of what term you choose, digital locks should not fall under copyright jurisdiction for the simple reason that creators have no control over them.

As written in the current incarnation of Bill C-32, technical protection measures are the most important provision.

This effectively strips all authority from creators. Because creators– and most especially independent creators– don’t hold the keys to these locks.

As an independent writer I oppose digital locks that can be used against me.

Cover art for my novel locked in a jail cel secured with a padlock marked with the copyright symbol

Digital locks can be employed to prevent my utilization of digital media, devices or Internet protocols to distribute my work as I see fit.

The freedom technology has lately made available to creators will taken away by Bill C-32.

As a consumer I can’t support a law that allows digital locks to prevent citizens from legitimately using media and devices. It should be illegal for digital locks to impede access to digital material that is in the public domain.

NO Canadian DMCA

Made In Canada?
Canadian cultural sovereignty should belong to creators, not corporations.

There have been some very persuasive arguments that Bill C32, like Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 before it, has been written to appease our American neighbors. In itself, sacrificing Canadian sovereignty to appease foreign interests would be problematic enough if Canadian copyright law were made to conform to the contours of the American DMCA.

Worse: Bill C-32’s digital locks go far beyond the terms of the American DMCA provisions, so it would not simply be a case of leveling the playing field, Bill C-32 as will effectively put Canadians at a distinct disadvantage.

Iceland is contemplating putting all Icelandic literature online to foster and spread their culture. I submit this would be a better model for copyright emulation than the American DMCA.

Unintended Consequences
The American DMCA contains provisions for mandatory adjustment every three years, and over time it has in fact been lightened up as unintended consequences have been addressed. Yet Canada’s Bill C-32 simply contains a suggestion to look at it every five years. In terms of the speed of digital change, 5 year suggested revision term is horrendous. Bill C-32 would require annual review as a feature.

Independent Creators
Copyright needs to be simple enough for all citizens to understand, because more and more people are participating in our shared culture. Many artists believe things must change. The existing law is too strong, but rushing to enact legislation as flawed as Bill C-32 because we are tired of copyright is not the answer.

There are many reasons to use Free-Libre Open Source software for our endeavors. Yet the primacy of digital locks will impede access to such software for all of us.

I want to be able to make my work freely available. My right to do so should not be sacrificed to special interests. Canadian copyright law must support all Canadian creators, even those of us who believe in the importance of sharing.

I cannot support Bill C-32 as it is.

Perhaps I could if you were to remove TPM/DRM/Digital locks altogether. Some people think amending the Bill to permit circumvention for lawful purposes would solve the problem. I disagree. I don’t think consumers should have to circumvent digital locks. If digital locks are applied, it must be up to the parties holding the keys to guarantee the locks will be opened for lawful purposes.

Thank you for the opportunity to be heard. I will of course post my comments to my personal blog. [ https://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ ]

Laurel L. Russwurm

CC: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca
CC: The Honourable Tony Clement email: Clement.T@parl.gc.ca>
CC: The Honourable James Moore email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca
CC: The Honourable Michael Ignatieff email: Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca
CC: Legislative Committee Members
(Charlie Angus email: Angus.C@parl.gc.ca , Sylvie Boucher email: Boucher.S@parl.gc.ca , Peter Braid email: Braid.P@parl.gc.ca , Gordon Brown email: Brown.G@parl.gc.ca , Serge Cardin email: Cardin.S@parl.gc.ca , Dean Del Mastro email: DelMastro.D@parl.gc.ca , Marc Garneau email: Garneau.M@parl.gc.ca , Daryl Kramp email: Kramp.D@parl.gc.ca , Mike Lake email: Lake.M@parl.gc.ca , Carole Lavallée email: Lavallee.C@parl.gc.ca,
Dan McTeague email: McTeague.D@parl.gc.ca and Pablo Rodriguez email: Rodriguez.P@parl.gc.ca )
CC: Harold Albrecht email: Albrecht.H@parl.gc.ca

[Image Credit: the copyright jail from Question Copyright Sita Distribution Project remixed with my “Inconstant Moon” cover art by laurelrusswurm]