Canadian Committee Publishes Ludicrous Fantasy Pretending To Be Copyright Reform Analysis

from the oh-come-on dept

Oh Canada. Not satisfied with a ridiculous plan to fine social media companies for ill-defined “fake news,” a Canadian Parliamentary Committee has come out with one of the most laughable copyright reform papers I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen some crazy ones. I’d post the whole report here, but the report itself warns that doing so might violate its copyright, and really, how could the Parliament be incentivized to create fantasy stories masquerading as copyright reform proposals without copyright?

Michael Geist provides the bizarre background on the origination of this report:

The Canadian government announced its plans for a copyright review in December 2017, tasking the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology with the review. That report has been in the drafting stage for several months and is expected before the summer. In an effort to dampen concerns that Canadian Heritage would play a diminished role in the review, the responsible ministers asked the Industry committee to ask the Heritage committee to conduct a review on remuneration models for artists and creative industries. The formal request asked the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to ?call upon the expertise of a broad range of stakeholders impacted by copyright to ensure a holistic understanding of the issues at play.?

Rather than providing the recommendations directly to the Industry committee as requested, the Heritage committee and chair Julie Dabrusin, a Liberal MP, chose instead to release its full report today. The report, which utterly failed to comply with the request to call on a broad range of stakeholders, is the most one-sided Canadian copyright report issued in the past 15 years, largely mirroring the approach of the discredited 2004 Bulte report that was subsequently rejected by the government.

The report is crazier than even I expected upon hearing the details. It doesn’t even pretend that there might be some downsides to over-extending copyright law, or that there should be any exploration of the trade offs of various proposals at all. Instead, it insists that we NEED MORE COPYRIGHT in basically every possible place. As if to prove how laughable the entire report is… it actually recommends extending copyright terms — something that even American copyright maximalists have mostly given up on (and whom, in quiet, will admit that perhaps copyright terms are already too long). But, that view is not even suggested in Dabrusin’s dubious analysis of copyright. Indeed, the report admits that it didn’t talk to a single person who didn’t think extending copyright was a grand idea:

No witnesses expressed outright opposition to extending of the copyright term from 50 to 70 years after death.

If that’s the case, you, uh, did not speak to very many witnesses at all — and you certainly did not abide by your mandate to talk with a “broad range of stakeholders.” Incredibly, the report quotes a musician — uncritically — who is flat out admitting that she just wants more money for work she did in the past:

Artist Miranda Mulholland said that extending the copyright term would be a ?legacy move? that would give artists like herself ?the ability to leverage their success.?

Existing copyright law in Canada allows Mulholland and her heirs to “leverage her success” for 50 years past her death. And she wants more? Come on. And, remember, copyright is supposed to be about an incentive to create. If life+50 was good enough for her to create when she did, why should she get extra benefits (by taking away from the public domain) afterwards? That makes no sense at all. But the report reflects none of that.

The report is also laughably credulous about the debunked concept of the “value gap”, which is a meaningless phrase invented by the legacy record labels to mean “internet companies figured out how to innovate, while we just sued our best customers, and why aren’t they handing us more money?!?” But, according to this report, it’s a real problem that absolutely must be dealt with:

Witnesses from the creative industries spoke about a disparity between the value of creative content enjoyed by consumers and the revenues that are received by artists and creative industries. According to many witnesses, this disparity, which is known as the ?value gap,? is growing.

According to Graham Henderson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Music Canada, the origins of the value gap extend back more than two decades. As creative industries shifted with the advent of the internet, copyright policy and protections became outdated and ineffective. Miranda Mulholland, artist and entrepreneur, aptly described, ?the biggest reason for [the value gap] is that the laws in place today reflect a time of home phones, of scrunchies, and of buying a CD at a music store instead of today’s world of streaming.?

That’s silly. Canada went through major copyright reform in 2012. The idea that the laws reflect the 1980s is just silly. And wrong. So is the idea of a value gap.

The report falsely claims that there has been a “decline in the artistic middle class.” This is absolutely laughable. As we showed in our recent Sky Is Rising report, the internet has enabled a massive new artistic middle class by allowing them to go direct to fans, and not rely on a single gatekeeper. Instead, there are lots of tools to create, to reach new fans, and to make money — and all of the data suggests that’s happening. What’s telling is that nowhere in the report do they cite any actual statistics around this, but merely anecdotes. It’s incredible.

The entire report is based solely on anecdotes and quotes from legacy industry insiders, who might have just a wee bit of bias in telling the Canadian government that it needs to force internet companies to pay more. Not surprisingly, this report endorses the approach the EU has taken with its new copyright laws: put all the liability on the platforms. Again, there isn’t even an attempt to show why this might create problems or trade-offs — just quotes in support:

Another approach to combatting piracy that witnesses raised is to involve the intermediaries in content distribution such as Internet service providers (ISPs). Witnesses described different methods to do so. For the Association nationale des editeurs de livres, ISPs ought to ?inform their subscribers about copyright? and ?[withdraw] access from non-compliers.? For representatives from the music and the film and television industries, the courts ought to be allowed to force ISPs to block access to the websites that allow piracy.

To further curb illegal copying or streaming, it was suggested profiting from the theft and sharing of rights holders’ exclusive and copyrighted content on illegal streaming services be deemed a criminal offence.

Many witnesses also asked for modifications to the safe harbour provisions related to digital intermediaries and ISPs. The Committee heard that these provisions ought to be reviewed to ensure that these online services are held accountable for their role in diffusing content. The recommendation is linked to the theme of Canadian content previously discussed. Witnesses told the Committee that the Internet should not be seen as a set of ?dumb pipes? and, rather, that ISPs ?enjoy and greatly benefit from access to the music they give their clients.?

The whole report is an utter joke. It seems clear that it was written by someone who not only heard from one tiny set of views, but who is either woefully ignorant of the myriad views on copyright and its impact, or who purposefully tried to hide that. Either way, it makes this report not worthy of consideration by any legitimate legislative body.

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Comments on “Canadian Committee Publishes Ludicrous Fantasy Pretending To Be Copyright Reform Analysis”

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Gary (profile) says:

Oh Copyright!

Copyright is supposed to be a balance between public and corporate interests.
Creators create, corporations monetize.

But the public doesn’t hire lobbying teams to change the laws, letting corporate interests dominate the process.

Can’t really monetize the public domain to fund a special interest group – so how do we limit the special interest groups? Campaign finance reform, capping donations, eliminating dark money seems to be the way to go.

Or we could just keep giving corporations everything they want, extending copyright to cover tractors and cars and printer ink…

Tim Burr Shiverme says:

Re: Oh Copyright!

Or we could just keep giving corporations everything they want,

Such as Masnick’s assertion that "platforms" should be able to arbitrarily control even over 1st Amendment Right, and in advance by blocking persons rather than responding per comment.

Now, I don’t expect "Gary" the resident (or one of) astro-turfing to agree. It’s only here to falsify the comments, ’cause Masnick is down to a few fanboys, most the same pirates that were here 10 years ago.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oh Copyright!

Such as Masnick’s assertion that "platforms" should be able to arbitrarily control even over 1st Amendment Right

Oh Blue Balls! Thank you for being so attentive.

Your analysis of this "right" is not backed up by statutory or common law. Without moderation, posting boards are quickly overwhelmed by spam.

Copyright enforces censorship, and is an actual violation of the 1st amendment. "Congress shall make no law." Remember that part?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh Copyright!

Am I only the one that think the public should be the only legitimate stakeholder to be consulted in relation to new copyright law?. After all, their liberties are taken away, in name of making culture prospers and in name of the "starving artists", and creating jobs, etc
I would love to see the need to create more restricting copyright laws be based on actual scientific evidence demonstrating the need to. It is not going to happen with the Trudeau Liberals for sure. I for one will be voting the corrupt bastards out of office this fall election. I dont care who will win, the Conservatives or NDP.. so as long as it is not the Liberals.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re: Oh Copyright!

LOL @ the idea that conservatives will sort this out.

Conservatives are all over copyright because they think it’s actual copyright.

Lefties are all over copyright because they believe it upholds the worker’s right to be paid for the work they do.

Liberals are all over copyright because they believe it’s a tradeable item, therefore the market will decide on whether or not the item sells.

The only political ideology that accurately addresses the problem of copyright creep is Pirate.

Anonymous Coward says:

"recommends extending copyright terms"

Since Canada is the only remaining Western country that still has a "life+50 years" copyright term, there will no doubt always be pressure to increase it to the US/EU standard of 70 years, and ever more copyright "reform" proposals for the foreseeable future, until that goal is reached.

Tim Burr Shiverme says:

More eye-rolling won't help. Not after years promoting piracy!

Can always tell when Masnick begins to face reality. He goes to the "crazy" entry in his internal thesaurus, spews the same few synonyms, and can’t do more than gainsay.

Masnick makes much of his guess that no known pirates or their academic apologists were called as witnesses. Why would they be? It’s like inviting mosquitoes: they’ve nothing to offer, only want to suck your blood.

Anyhoo, pirates are losing, creators are winning. You fanboys are daily more "threatened" by your voluntary and needless thefts being criminalized. That trend won’t stop.

Techdirt’s 20 year support of piracy and Masnick’s silly notion of free as in beer content are proven wrong. The site doesn’t bother to list goals or bullet principles, just keeps making brown froth as sinks into its own cesspit.

-m-a-s-n-i-c-k-s -h-a-t-e -r-u-l-e-s -e-s-p -h-o-r-i-z-o-n-t-a-l-s

Here’s your new slogan:

The New Techdirt Late (TM) — Less Taste! More Fooling!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You need to remember that out_of_the_blue has been raging against Canada for years, on the grounds that they’ve been remarkably sane in their approach to copyright.

Such as generally not going after home downloaders, or – horror of horrors – relying on more than IP addresses and accusations in copyright infringement lawsuits.

He’s a good corporatist cocksucker, aren’t you blue? Who’s a good corporatist boy? Open up, here comes Nadler!

Anonymous Coward says:

are There some dead creators out there complaining about copyright being too short and they cant make more money or make new art.
This art is basically a wish list from ip holders ,corporations and legacy companys and an attack on the public domain .75 Year long copyrights are a restriction on artists and musicians as it limits the scope of the work
they might make ,
you might get sued over using a few notes from a song in the charts from
1950 that you never heard .
There are millions of people making art and music on youtube, soundcloud,
bandcamp ,patreon and other platforms ,
not to mention streaming on twitch and other services .
But they do not exist because they bypassed the gatekkeepers
who gave evidence for this report.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

If that’s the case, you, uh, did not speak to very many witnesses at all — and you certainly did not abide by your mandate to talk with a "broad range of stakeholders."

What are you talking about? I’m sure they talked to stakeholders such as the music industry, the movie industry, the book publishing industry, the software publishing industry… doesn’t that sound like a broad range to you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Something just came to me…
I’m not really a conspiracy man “i am more now then i used to be considering the times we are in”

But after the announcement for fake news and this coming along I’m starting to think Canada’s pulling some realpolitik article 13 crap here and down the line.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think copyright should last maybe five years, if only to streamline the paperwork involved. That way, anything created more than five years ago is not infringing. Protecting the remainder would then become much easier.

I once tried giving away something to people who were willing to wait four weeks for it to be delivered, and charging them if they wanted it immediately. A number of people bought.

Anonymous Coward says:

If any country wants to change the law around copyright ,they should look at the eu , in the next 2 years there will be mandantory filters on most websites to scan all images,video, and audio files uploaded by users .
A report that does take evidence from all stakeholders eg from small artists who use online platforms
like soundloud,youtube ,bandcamp, and who are not signed up with record
companys is just pointless or a fantasy.
Artists who reach the public directly online and are paid by using patreon ,subscriptions from users .
I Think copyright should last the life of the creator plus 20 years .

In 2018 the digital music modernisation law was passed in the usa ,
this sets out new laws for streaming music and collecting the revenue,
sharing the income between singers, composers , record companys ,
songwriters ,royalty revenue sharing etc
it was passed after talks with ALL stakeholders in the music industry ,
Not just the record companys and old corporations .

Anonymous Coward says:

it makes this report not worthy of consideration by any legitimate legislative body.

Which is why I’ll bet it passes without issue. She has obviously accepted some incentive to come out with this crap! And i seem yo remember that Canada, as well as other countries, added fees to the sale of blank disks to compensate artists. Is that going to be removed? Doubt not!

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: What it really should be

Until death is still too long. The 14 years + seven if required idea seems reasonable to me. Also, all copyrightable items must be registered for it to count. Automatic copyright is a problem as orphan works, i.e. those whose creator hasn’t been identified, can’t be used without risk of being subject to a lawsuit.

Anonymous Coward says:

And the new law will be...

"The whole report is an utter joke. It seems clear that it was written by someone who not only heard from one tiny set of views, but who is either woefully ignorant of the myriad views on copyright and its impact, or who purposefully tried to hide that. Either way, it makes this report not worthy of consideration by any legitimate legislative body. "

Which is why this is exactly what the new Canadian Copyright laws will be… and you saw it here first…

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