Canadian Entertainment Industry Begins New Media Campaign For Draconian Copyright Laws

from the and-here-we-go-again dept

Every year, the entertainment industry pushes Canada to update its copyright laws -- which are already quite strict -- with some misguided propaganda about how Canada is a "piracy haven." Of course, the facts don't support that assertion, but the entertainment industry keeps insisting that it's the case, and that the only way to deal with this is through ever more draconian copyright laws to, as the entertainment top industry lawyers have falsely claimed, "bring Canada into the 21st century." After public protests and outcries prevented a few previous attempts at bad copyright law updates (basically written by the entertainment industry) from being put in place, last year, the government held various public consultations and asked for feedback. The written feedback was strongly against more draconian copyright law, but it looks like the industry has started up a questionable moral panic campaign as it gets ready to try again to push copyright law in the wrong direction.

It kicks off with an article in Canadian Business magazine (sent in by a bunch of you) which is so ridiculously one-sided as to be laughable. That article kicks off with a record label owner complaining that sales are down. You think? Maybe that's because you're selling obsolete plastic discs, rather than updating your business model. The label owner goes on to point out that others -- such as studio engineers are losing their jobs as well, and this is tragic. Sure, it's tragic, but when markets change, jobs change too. We used to be a nation of farmers, and now a tiny percentage of the population farms. The telephone company used to employ thousands of operators to connect your call, but technology did away with that particular function. Markets change, jobs change. It's no fun for those involved, but it's no reason to pass laws that you think will protect those jobs (even though they won't).

The article goes on to trot out the typical ridiculous stats and bogus claims from the industry, and the only attempt it has at anyone presenting the other side of the debate are some quotes from Michael Geist, who is introduced as "a media gadfly whose left-leaning views on the issue are openly disparaged by many in Canada's corporate sector." Uh, wow. Clearly, whoever wrote the article had no interest in hearing the other side of the story -- such as the evidence that the issue here is not copyright at all, but business model choices. The views on copyrights are not anti-business, as the article presents, but pro-consumer, which when done right is also pro-business. It's clearly a media hit job in anticipation of the next round of copyright debates.

Along those lines, a few folks have submitted a writeup by Canadian intellectual property lawyer Richard Owens, who claims that the public consultation on copyright in Canada last year was not fair because it was dominated by evil pirates and "shadowy organizations." Seriously. The article dismisses the public consultation because sites like TorrentFreak (which he mischaracterizes, ignoring that the site is a well-respected journalistic endeavor) encouraged people to make their views known, and that many of the submissions came via a submission system put together by the Canadian Coalition of Electronic Rights -- which he also mischaracterizes as "a clandestine group of mod-chip manufacturers."

However, as Michael Geist notes in his response to Owens, lots of special interest groups had form letter offerings available -- including the entertainment industry. But no one chose to use them. While form letters may not be the fairest system in general, the fact that there were form letter submission services for pretty much all points of view, it seems reasonable to assume that anyone on any side of this debate could have used one, and thus, the results are, perhaps, somewhat representative. Owens claims that many of the submissions were likely made by foreigners, but as CCER notes in its own response, it required a legitimate Canadian address, and it's unlikely that many faked such a thing. Even if a few did, it's unlikely that most of those submissions were from foreigners. Owens goes on to complain that many who submitted their views were "poorly informed," but reading through the details, it appears "poorly informed" just means "did not agree with Owens."

Amusingly, Owens also appears to cherry pick certain industry representatives to suggest that only they should have been able to comment on the issue:
We sampled twenty-five percent of the substantive individual Submissions, and of the professional authors, musicians, filmmakers, performers, photographers and designers, more than 90% were in favour of robust copyright protection as a means to secure their livelihood and protect their artistic integrity.
Uh, yes. If you ask those who have a law protecting them from competition, of course many of them will say that law is great and they want it strengthened. But that's got nothing to do with the purpose of copyright law. Copyright law is supposed to be about promoting overall progress (and, yes, I know that's the US version, but the general concept is true in Canada as well), and that means for both the public and for the content creators. To claim that only the content creators' views should be considered when discussing copyright is incredibly disingenuous.

In the end, it's clear that Canadians are gearing up for yet another fight over copyright law, and the early media campaign is beginning. It starts with bogus stories with little basis in fact, combined with weak attacks on the public who oppose such draconian laws. Hopefully, Canadian politicians will see through such charades quickly.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    floffle, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 8:59am

    BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN ARTICLE. i love you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:06am

    you would think that eventually the canadian government would do something about the media industry calling them a den of pirates.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    lavi d (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:17am

    No Problem

    Hopefully, Canadian politicians will see through such charades quickly.

    I have great faith that, as in America, the Canadian politicians will see through the charades they are paid to see through.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:22am

    canada is a piracy haven. pay a small fee on the blank media nobody uses anymore and you can download and violate copyright with impunity. that isnt fair to producers outside of canada who are not getting paid but are getting ripped off. canadian artists love it because they get over paid for doing little, so companies like nettwerk do so well sucking at the public teat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:25am

    What's 90% of 25%?

    How bad is it when 10% of the people you hand picked don't support you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:30am

    Re:

    They tried to do something about it. Make some new laws that none of the Canadian people wanted. That's why letters were written and the bills were dropped.

    It would seem that our current government doesn't know how to speak back against such claims, preferring to roll over and give the media industry what they want instead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    TAM - Making stuff up as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:34am

    Re:

    The CRIA owes Canadian artists how much money?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Closed "Discussion"

    Comments and ratings are disabled on the CB article. Of course.


    ++ to Chronno

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Hopefully Canada will address some of the deficiencies in its law that place it at odds with its obligations under international treaties. At the same time, however, it would be beneficial for it to expand its "fair dealing" provisions to align more closely to US "fair use".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    exactly. nobody is getting paid so the system as it is right now is broken.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    you lie mike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:56am

    "but it looks like the industry has started up a questionable moral panic campaign as it gets ready to try again to push copyright law in the wrong direction. "

    Yes, because we need copyright laws to last longer. The lifetime of an artist plus 70 years and 95 years for corporations simply isn't long enough. A moral panic is in order.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You fib Flanders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I agree. The copyright system is broken.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    Hopefully Canada will stand up against the lobbyists that control these international treaties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    Copyright should last the life of the author and then the life of the author's children and then the life of the author's grandchildren and then the life of the author's great-grandchildren. It's only fair.

    Artistic work is so precious that it needs to be protected from the likes of society for a really long time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re:

    Canadians anticopy laws are in many ways more draconian than those of the U.S. and of course nothing you say is based on any shred of evidence whatsoever. So stop making things up TAM.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re:

    Minus a day, of course. (Or maybe minus a second?)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    A second is too long.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Never Enough

    Like the concept of "safety", there will never be enough "copyright". We seem to constantly need ever greater "safety" laws, "copyright" is following same trajectory.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:37am

    My Response to Richard Owens

    I wrote a response too Richard Owens asking him to disclose his affiliations. I also aimed this at several other 'legal professionals' including Michael Geist. So far Richard hasn't responded, and quite frankly I don't expect him, Barry Sookman, or James Gannon to respond. Quite frankly they have nothing to gain, and everything to loose by doing so.

    And yes, they do know about the article. I emailed them all directly, and copied the email to several prominent Canadian politicians including the Prime Minister.

    Wayne aka The Mad Hatter

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    kyle clements (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re:

    "Hopefully Canada will address some of the deficiencies in its law that place it at odds with its obligations under international treaties."

    No, it should not.
    Canada should look at what Canadian citizens want, and refuse to enter into any international treaties that go against the wishes of it's people.

    But I agree with you that fair dealing should be greatly expanded.
    Also, crown copyright should be abolished, and replaced with the US style of releasing all gov't produced content directly into the public domain. If it was paid for by the public, it should belong to the public.

    I'm getting sick of this copyright debate. Every year the media industry wants the government to change the laws, and every year, the government faces an uproar of angry citizens. But the government never learns, they keep on trying to pass the same unpopular laws each year, and keep on facing the same opposition.
    Here is a crazy idea for a democratic country: look at the results of last summers consultations, then do what the majority of people want; then drop the issue and move on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 11:05am

    "We sampled twenty-five percent of the substantive individual Submissions, and of the professional authors, musicians, filmmakers, performers, photographers and designers, more than 90% were in favour of robust copyright protection as a means to secure their livelihood and protect their artistic integrity. "

    What happened to software developers? What are we, chopped liver?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re:

    The treaties to which I refer are already in force and accepted by Canada.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Re: No Problem

    We don't really have the same campaign contributions issue here, but unfortunately we can't stand up against pressure from the U.S., so it amounts to the same thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    BruceLD (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 11:59am

    calling the pot black

    No one has provided ANY proof whatsoever that the CRIA copyright levy charged on blank CD's has ever made it in to the hands of any artist. Note: most times the levy's actually cost MORE than the media themselves!

    Where is the proof that artists are being compensated?

    I would bet my right nut that the CRIA is keeping the money for themselves, paying themselves grossly excessive salaries and using the money to pay for expensive luxurious business trips, etc.

    I urge all Canadians reading this to write their local Member of Parliament to investigate the money trail for the CRIA copyright level to find out where the money's been going since 1998.

    Let's find out who the real thieves are!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re:

    the media levy doesn't let you download. It only lets you copy CDs you already own for your own private use (and even then in a limited way). Does that clear things up for you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Donald (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 12:19pm

    An interesting side effect

    I went to the Canadian Business magazine web site to read the full article and provide any comments ... but they apparently have taken comments offline. Could it be the TechDirt effect? (Similar to Slashdot but specifically related to moronica attempts at keeping obsolete business models alive.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    is owens canadian?

    does he cross that slander and defamation part about torrentfreak and others?

    IF hes american send him home if not put him on a missile and launch him to orbit so he can join the other morons from space

    big dooo about slander and defamation going on , my bet is comments removed under canuck law do not excuse you from damages .......ENJOY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    @4

    i have a stack a levied cdrs right here

    i am going to do what the CRIA is doing
    create a "pending list" and maybe in 40-50 years if i live that long begin paying for stuff

    this ok ?

    Google 6$ billion dollar lawsuit against CRIA from musicians

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    @28

    then sue me
    OH wait you cant cause it provides an exemption for copying which by law wording is downloading onto the disk which means you'd get slapped in court, have to pay my lawyers fees , your fees and then i would counter sue for slander defamation and pain and suffering of at least 25$ dollars each

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    @32

    250000 $ each sorry

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    Hopefully Canada will address some of the deficiencies in its law that place it at odds with its obligations under international treaties.

    This has been discussed at length, so I'm surprised someone would bring it up.

    (1) Canada is in compliance with its international obligations. The only ones saying otherwise are twisting what the agreements say way beyond what they say.

    (2) Anyone who relies on "international obligations" as an argument for expanding copyright law is being intellectually dishonest. Those agreements, like ACTA, were not written with the public in mind, but were written by lobbyist, solely for the purpose of letting those same lobbyist jump up and down screaming "international obligations." Using that phrase to discuss what a nation should do for its copyright law is prima facie evidence that you are intellectually dishonest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    A "treaty" and an "agreement" are not, no matter how much people may want to contort the law, synonymous. They are separate and distinct, and intellectual dishonesty arises by casually treating them as being one in the same.

    Much is made here about the difference between "infringement" and "theft". A similar standard should be applied to treaties and agreements.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    "Along those lines, a few folks have submitted a writeup by Canadian intellectual property lawyer Richard Owens, who claims that the public consultation on copyright in Canada last year was not fair because it was dominated by evil pirates and "shadowy organizations.""

    Yes, because consulting the public about laws affecting the public is not fair. Anything less than you getting 100 percent of your one sided demands exactly as you request them is not fair. That's why we have ridiculous IP laws in place. Anticopy laws must be a one sided agreement between governments who pretend to represent the public and you, an agreement that unfairly benefits you. Anything less is not fair.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There aren't any treaties "already in force and accepted by Canada" that Canada isn't already fully compliant with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Griff (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    Canada has an "Entertainment Industry?"

    I thought Red Green and the Frantics *were* Canada's entertainment...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Jean Naimard, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 5:35pm

    It fits well…

    The fact that Canadian Business has disabled comments on it’s article is quite telling… Their mind is made, and it has nothing to do with what We, The People expects.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    Re: is owens canadian?

    Yes, Richard Owens is a Canadian lawyer. He actually has a fairly good reputation for ability, though his reputation is suffering in other ways.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Apr 21st, 2010 @ 6:06pm

    This Ain't No Popularity Contest - It's Politics

    This Ain't No Popularity Contest - It's Politics - Follow up to my article on Disclosure

    My article on disclosure has served it's purpose. A few people were rather upset with me, but hey, this is politics.

    Wayne

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Jared, Apr 21st, 2010 @ 8:22pm

    Re:

    Take it up with the music industry (i.e., CRIA), they are the ones that lobbied the government to charge a levy on writable media.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anon, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 6:50am

    The content lobby social media campaign

    This provides a plausible explanation as to why someone like CDN content corporation attorney Barry Sookman just recently has vastly increased his activity on his Twitter feed and his personal blog.

    Firm Profile: http://www.mccarthy.ca/lawyer_detail.aspx?id=1174

    The guess is large corporate copyright owners are paying attention to the dialogue that has been occurring on a variety of social media networks, and have noticed that this message is not favorable to their arguments. So they have unleashed a social network counteroffensive to try to offset that momentum, using a variety of credentialed lawyers to carry this message. Michael Geist seems a particularly favorite target, particularly among Canadian corporate lobbyists.

    (This holds true in the U.S. as well, it's just that the instant example is from Canada.)

    It will be interesting to observe how this plays out over the next few years, and whether the battle makes any difference in Canadian or U.S. law and policy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 8:42am

    "a media gadfly whose left-leaning views on the issue are openly disparaged by many in Canada's corporate sector."

    If you don't agree with me then you are a communist!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 22nd, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re:

    The solution to this is to create a secondary copyright system out side government control based on the creative commons. The problem with public licences like creative commons is the fact that they are not explained very well. The promotional CC material sucks. If the creative commons where rebuilt to be simple to explain, based on the Statute of Anne, set a time limit, allow extension up to a point (28 years), and encompass fair use it would be used more. This would also have to be linked to a central source for verification and validation.

    With ACTA coming down the pipe and guilty until proven innocent as its main theme. You may end up needing proof that you purchased what is on your iPod. Who is actually going to carry that proof with them at the airport, or when you are driving. Personally I love ACTA and hope it is implemented. It narrows the ability of the record labels, the tv and movie studios, news papers, and book publishers to react. It also opens up the ability to offer an open alternative that removes the hassle of copyright.

    Here is an idea,

    Creative Commons Statute of Anne version
    1) all copyrights shall be for a term no greater than 28 years
    2) all copyrights shall be renewed every 7 years up to 28 years
    3) all copyrights shall fall into the public domain after a period of 28 years, or when not renewed, or upon request of the copyright holder.
    4) copyrights may be placed in the public domain by the copyright owner at any time.

    fair use, terms of use, etc

    By making it easy to understand and easy to use it would remove any disinformation on the RIAA or MPAA sites. It would also likely increase its usage as its no longer something you need a lawyer to explain to you ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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