Pro-Stronger Copyright Propaganda Shows Up In Canadian Press

from the no-quotes-from-anyone-on-the-other-side? dept

Rob Hyndman points us to a column in Toronto's Globe & Mail by Barrie McKenna that is basically all of the recording industry's talking points on copyright, without even a nod to the views of the other side. It appears that most of the info is (surprise, surprise) based on a recording industry lawyer. It starts with a nice little moral panic about how file sharing sites are rushing to base themselves in Canada due to the country's supposedly lax copyright laws. Of course, that's ridiculous. Canada has very strong copyright laws already. What they don't have is a DMCA. That's what the industry wants. McKenna tries to bolster his claim that Canada has weak copyright laws with the following:
Earlier this year, the Obama administration put Canada on its blacklist of shame - a "priority watch list" of intellectual property laggards, joining the likes of China, Russia and Venezuela.
Sounds nice, but incredibly misleading. The "blacklist of shame" that McKenna mentions, but does not explain, is actually the US Trade Rep's special "301 Report." Mention it to just about any policy maker (excluding those pushing for protectionist policies for a specific industry, of course), and you get an eye roll. It's not so much "the Obama administration" but industries with wishlists attempting to restrain trade in foreign countries by putting forth scary stories about what's happening in those countries. The USTR basically takes those industry-submitted reports and wraps them up into the 301 report. It's a joke. Most of the complaints in the report concern countries that actually are in perfect compliance with international treaties -- but which the industry still wants to go further.

Of course, given that McKenna's source is an industry lawyer, perhaps it's not surprising that such info wasn't shared. But, the next claims go from the just uninformed to the unbelievable:
Canada, which has repeatedly promised but so far failed to deliver on copyright reform, isn't just out of step with the United States, but with much of the Western world.
This is simply untrue. Canada's copyright law is actually quite in line with most of the Western world, no matter what the entertainment industry suggests (and, you might think that McKenna would ask someone other than the person representing the industry that benefits from this). Furthermore, the line that Canada has "so far failed to deliver on copyright reform" is either blatantly misleading or simply ignorant of rather recent history. Canadian politicians have tried to push forth copyright reform, but due to a massive public outcry from people who actually understand how things like the DMCA cause all sorts of problems -- especially concerning free speech and consumer rights -- those politicians were forced to back down.

That's called informed democracy in action.

Oh, McKenna also claims that the last time the Canadian government tried copyright reform was in 2007. According to his bio, McKenna is based in DC, not Canada, but even down here in the States plenty of us were aware that Jim Prentice introduced copyright reform in 2008.

So, McKenna makes it out like Canada has no strong copyright laws (false), that it's laws are different from most of the western world (false) and that it hasn't tried to add more draconian copyright laws (false again). From there, he comes up with this bizarre justification for more draconian copyright law:
The world has gone digital. And there's now an explosion of legitimate download sites in the U.S. and Europe, including ground-breaking music sites Pandora.com and Lala.com. But you can't use them in Canada.

These and other businesses are choosing to bypass the market entirely, in part because of licensing problems.

And the creative industries that produce music, software and the like - industries that contribute significantly more to the economy than BitTorrent sites - may also shun Canada if nothing is done.
Actually, you have Canadian record labels like Nettwerk, that are doing quite well, even as its CEO has declared that copyright is obsolete and should be done away with entirely within a decade. And the reason that those services can't be used in Canada isn't because the law is too lax, but because the laws are too strict, in terms of figuring out special licensing setups in each country. It's such a pain to get them licensed in a single country that the services have been forced -- against their will in many cases -- to block access in other countries like Canada.

Meanwhile, it's telling to note some of the things that McKenna conveniently left out. Like how about the private copying levy system up in Canada, which has made blank media ridiculously expensive, and which is supposed to be paying for all that "piracy." We don't have that in the US at all. Or what about the weak fair use/fair dealing laws in Canada? What about an understanding of the value of the public domain or the value of fan promotions? What about new business models that have shown that copyright isn't necessary to make money in the industry? What about the studies that have shown that file sharers tend to buy more music? All of that seems relevant... but when your only source is a representative of the industry looking to get laws passed in its own interest, is it any wonder they get left out?

Barrie McKenna got taken for a ride here by the recording industry. His writeup included multiple factual errors, significant errors of omission, and a gross misunderstanding of what's actually happening in the music industry these days.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    rw (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Journalist?

    Is this guy one of the "Professional" Journalist we hear about?

     

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    Lucretious, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Canada.....LOL.

     

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    identicon
    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Waiting to hear from the shills and Mike haters,

    read Mikes (well written), read the article (wow more of a professional shill or spindoctor).

    I think it would be great if our Friends to the North showed the Americans real Democracy in action and threw out their copyright or loosened it up so the industry explodes, i can see the number of labels opening over night and the shills screaming "THEY SUPPORT THE PIRATES" and wanting a war... it would be the best entertainment ever, along with proving the Free Capitalist Correct, plus think of the money to be made bringing thier "blackmarket" products here... oh the fun we could have..

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:13pm

      Re: Waiting to hear from the shills and Mike haters,

      "I think it would be great if our Friends to the North showed the Americans real Democracy in action"

      Please, they would immediately be accused of housing or supporting raporism and we'd invade.

      The global war on raporism must march on, eh...

       

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    ChronoWraith, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    This is News?

    Thank you. I read this abismal piece of a "news" article in the Globe and Mail and wondered how absolutely misleading the title and description was. I thought I was going to get an interesting article explaining the complications of licensing and why Canada continues to get the short end of the stick. Instead, I get this recording industry dribble. Very disappointed in the Globe and Mail.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Canadian copyright law and it's implications are pretty far off the US model, mostly because of the way Canada deals with piracy.

    Blank media (and possibly even mp3 players) are taxed, and that tax money then distributed to various organizations. In the end, it is a very polite way of saying "Piracy is okay", as the people who buy the blank media are somewhat taxed to make up for it. However, that tax money isn't sent outside of Canada, so artists from outside Canada that are pirated lose out big time.

    In reality, it isn't democracy, it's socialism at work.

    As for Nettwerk, well, we could go for hours on them. Let's just say that they have done really well at the socialist teat, profiting from Government programs such as this, tax credits, and Canadian Content laws that forced artists onto the air where there was no real public demand.

     

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      bigpicture, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:57pm

      Re: Rampant Capitalism

      Oh! and rampant capitalism works so well in good old USA that the rest of the world are rushing to copy it? Bank bail outs with taxpayers money, mortgage foreclosures, broke governments, retirement fund pyramid schemes, devalued dollar, BIG BONUSES FOR ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CAUSED ALL THIS. Give your head a good shake and look in the mirror, is "corporate welfare" not just a euphemism for socialism??? After all it is still taxpayers money, except it is going to the thieves. Do we have a euphemism for corruption?

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 3:27pm

      Re:

      In reality, it isn't democracy, it's socialism at work.

      Heh. If the blank copying levy is socialism at work, so is all of copyright, as it's based on the same damn principle.

      I like how our resident industry-sponsored commenter (watch him deny it!) has decided that this is the spin that makes sense. For the past two weeks he's called me socialist at least three times a day

      Are they giving you a quota now?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 4:12pm

        Re: Re:

        He practically admits it with his "we" comment, unless he has DID.

         

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        Lisa (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 5:03pm

        Mr. coward takes the fox news approch to debate

        When you can't come up with an effective argument, try to brush the opponent off by crying 'socialist'.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 9:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Mike, please. I am not an "industry sponsors commenter" (there is your denial). Too bad that your first reaction to dissenting opinions is to immediately whip out the shill defense. It's pretty sad. I would be more than willing to chat with you about this on the phone if you like, just to clear the air. I don't appreciate your lying about this. Accept the concept that there are people who actually don't think that encouraging mass piracy is a good idea.

        The blank disc levy is the worst type of socialism, because it takes from everyone who gets blank media, even those who create their own material or need to back up their data files from their computers. It is making people pay even if they don't want to, sort of a PSA type situation, don't you think? You seem to rail against pretty much ALL government intervention, yet you seem comfortable with this one.

        It's a very socialist piece of work, not sure why you are supporting it.

         

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Mike, please. I am not an "industry sponsors commenter" (there is your denial).

          I hope that is true, though, I recently received evidence to the contrary.

          Too bad that your first reaction to dissenting opinions is to immediately whip out the shill defense.

          First reaction? Dude, you've been commenting here for about a year. I've tried to engage with you on these issues in the past, and you have been purposefully trollish (stating things that were obviously wrong -- despite being called on it).

          I would be more than willing to chat with you about this on the phone if you like, just to clear the air.

          Sure, give us a call.

          Accept the concept that there are people who actually don't think that encouraging mass piracy is a good idea.

          I accept that there are people who disagree with me. But that is not what you do. What you do is come here every day and deliberately misstate my position -- despite it having been explained to you. For example, I do not, have not and will not "encourage mass piracy."

          The blank disc levy is the worst type of socialism, because it takes from everyone who gets blank media, even those who create their own material or need to back up their data files from their computers. It is making people pay even if they don't want to, sort of a PSA type situation, don't you think? You seem to rail against pretty much ALL government intervention, yet you seem comfortable with this one.

          It's a very socialist piece of work, not sure why you are supporting it.


          Your reading comprehension fails you again. I DO NOT support the levy. I think it's a ridiculous concept and have spoken out against it for years.

          But it was relevant to the article. I brought it up because McKenna left it out (oddly).

          So, yes, I agree that the gov't levy is a ridiculous concept. My point in the comment above was that if you believe it is "socialist" then you believe all copyright is socialist.

          So which is it?

           

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          www.eZee.se (profile), Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 6:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The first thing is, cant really respect someone who only posts anonymously... at *least* register a nick if you are commenting on a site for a while, or you really are a coward ...among other things.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Press release journalism at its finest.

     

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    bigpicture, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:47pm

    Professional Journalism

    Exactly, someone here made a comment about Professional Journalism. So if this McKenna represents that ilk then newspapers are doomed to fail, and not because of the internet, but because of their own poor quality of product. Nobody wants to read news that represents "special interests" because that is not news at all but propaganda. AND THEY EXPECT PEOPLE TO PAY FOR THAT. Do they think that people are stupid? It might be worth while checking out McKenna's affiliations and doing some REAL researched journalism.

     

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    ECA (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Life and times in common sense.

    When was the last time a LOBBYIST had to have knowledge of his product.
    When was the last TIME the USA demanded that our representatives and congress had an education/knowledge/understanding/anything beyond being trained AS politicians/monkeys..

     

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    Kevin Carson, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:25pm

    So Canadian newspapers run bukkake now?

    For anyone who believes in freedom, a country that passes the DMCA tops the list of shame.

     

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    Dave, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 7:25am

    Private Copying Expensive

    Talk about lack of facts and research. How'd you conclude that the private copying levy has made blank media ridiculosuly expensive? You link to an article that says 90% of a blank CD is the levy. Well did you both to confirm that. The levy is $0.29 per CD - http://cpcc.ca/english/currentTariff.htm Did you both to actually check the cost of blank CDs? http://www.futureshop.ca/catalog/class.asp?logon=&langid=EN&catid=23033&test_cookie=1 Cause it's nowhere near 90%. Nice spin though.

     

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    canuck, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Everyone knows that the Globe is total NeoCon

    Dudes, everyone in Canada Knows that the Globe and Mail is a total Neo Conservative ( BIG Business is right, bugger the rest of you) newspaper. They are right up there with the CTV television network!! ( Conservative Television Network.)
    Reading an article like that in the Globe is well not really a surprise. It is a total rightist newspaper.

     

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    Tom Koltai, Oct 22nd, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    Socialism -v- Facism

    If the Canadians Governments CPCC collection method that has distributed over 150 million to artists is socialist, then the US Governments RIAA model that has distibuted zero to artists must be Facism. (And the difference is considerable - Canadians collect 2342% more from file sharers tha the Americans do AND they distribute these monies. Has anyone heard of the RIAA distributing any of the 22 million it collected from the infringement notices? No, I didnt think so.)

    So the question for Barrie MKenna and RIAA supporters is not, is the Canadian Government Socialist.

    It is, why are Americans allowing industry to run their Government ? (Which is technically Facism.)

    On the other hand, A Government that takes responsible actions to ensure that it's society benefits from the collection of taxes within it's own borders is in fact protecting it's population from the consumer disease that appears to be affecting the USA.

    The American people no longer actually manufacture anyhtiong very much, so Trade Agreements like ACTA are designed to force a number of countries into compliance with the new American Commerce Model. All Intellectual Property belongs to the USA.
    Anybody that disagrees is a communist.

    Mr. McKenna's article forgets to mention (conveniently?) that Canada is one of the prefered especially selected ACTA partners of the USA.

    I wrote quite a bit more about this at including debunking Mr. McKennas sources and his obvious erroneous mathematics.
    I also showed that Canadians download less per capita than the USA and buy more music per capita than the USA.

     

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    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 9th, 2012 @ 5:44am

    Conveniently ignoring points is quite a skill . . .

     

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