Setting The Record Straight On Bill C-11

In recent days there has been an increase in interest in Canadian copyright reform and the MP letter writing tool that CCER has made available. This new interest has resulted in unacceptable threats by various groups/individuals that the CCER is in no way affiliated with nor condones and confusion surrounding the status and content of legislation. We urge all concerned Canadians to read this recent post that addresses recent misconceptions with Bill C-11, SOPA, ACTA and the TPP.

Letter Wizard Updated To Include French

The popular Letter Wizard setup by CCER just less than a month ago has been updated to include a french version. The french letter varient is also CC’d to the Bloc Québécois industry critic Paule Brunelle.

So far there have been over 20,000 letters sent with this tool to the ministers in Ottawa responsible for the Canadian DMCA (Bill C-61) which is nothing short of amazing. Keep up the pressure over the summer and share the Letter Wizard with your friends and family and help stop the Canadian DMCA.

URGENT: Copyright Lobby Pushes For Troubling Changes To Bill C-27

Since its introduction in April 2009 Bill C-27, the Electronic Commerce Protection Act (ECPA) has attracted significant attention from the copyright lobby. Lobbyists have been attending committee hearings and working with Liberal and Bloq MPs to forward their agenda. The ECPA is aimed at deterring the most dangerous forms of spam, such as identity theft, phishing and spyware, from occurring in Canada however the copyright lobby fears that the current wording of the Bill will hinder their questionable use of DRM and potential for electronic surveillance.

Bill C-27 would strike a serious blow to DRM by requiring consent be obtained prior to installing software on a computer.

The DRM concern arises from a requirement in the bill to obtain consent before installing software programs on users’ computers. This anti-spyware provision applies broadly, setting an appropriate standard of protection for computer users. Yet the copyright lobby fears it could inhibit installation of DRM-type software without full knowledge and consent. Sources say that the Liberals have introduced a motion that would take these practices outside of the bill. In its place, they would define computer program as, among other things, “a program that has as its primary function…inducing a user to install software by intentionally misrepresenting that installing that software is necessary to safeguard security or privacy or to open or play content of a computer program.” This sets such a high bar – primary function, intentional mispresentation – that music and software industry can plausibly argue that surreptitious DRM installations fall outside of C-27.

Even more startling are the changes to Bill C-27 being sought after by the copyright lobby which would effectively permit copyright owners to secretly access information on users’ computers.

PIPEDA currently features a series of exceptions to the standard requirements for obtaining consent for the collection of personal information (found in Section 7). Bill C-27 includes a provision that bars those exceptions in cases involving computer harvesting of email addresses and the “collection of personal information through any means of telecommunication, if the collection is made by accessing a computer system or causing a computer system to be accessed without authorization.” In other words, email harvesting and spyware would not be permitted and would not qualify for the PIPEDA exceptions found in Section 7.

The copyright lobby is deeply concerned that this change will block attempts to track possible infringement through electronic means. The Section 7(1)(b) exception in PIPEDA currently states that collecting personal information without consent or knowledge of the individual is permitted if it is reasonable to expect that the collection “would compromise the availability or accuracy of the information” and the collection is “related to investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada.”

The committee’s “clause by clause” review of the Bill was to be conducted today however it appears that intense lobbying pressure was successful in securing an adjournment until Wednesday October 21, 2009. The Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights urges you to use the next 48 hours and write to Industry Minister Tony Clement and other members of the committee and demand they reject changes to Bill C-27 that would support the clandestine deployment and use of DRM or changes that would leave the door open to “private surreptitious surveillance”. Other committee members include:

  • Michael Chong (Con), Chair
  • Anthony Rota (Lib), Vice-Chair
  • Robert Bouchard (BQ), Vice-Chair
  • Gordon Brown (Con)
  • Siobhan Coady (Lib)
  • Marc Garneau (Lib)
  • Mike Lake (Con)
  • Brian Masse (NDP)
  • Dave Van Kesteren (Con)
  • Robert Vincent (BQ)
  • Mike Wallace (Con)
  • Chris Warkentin (Con)

Don’t Allow Your Voice To Be Silenced In The Canadian Copyright Debate

The Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights has updated its online letter writing wizard in light of recent developments in the Canadian copyright reform front. This update is intended to address the Government’s seeming willingness to ignore the voices of thousands of Canadians and proceed with the introduction of anti-consumer copyright reform legislation in as little as 6 weeks. Legislation that goes in a polar opposite direction of what Canadians demanded during the consultation process.

Send your letter now and share this tool with your friends, family and co-workers. It is essential that we all speak up now while we have the opportunity.

Online Letter Tool Updated To Address Bill C-32 Concerns

On June 2, 2010 the Government of Canada undertook an important step towards updating Canada’s copyright regime by introducing Bill C-32: the Copyright Modernization Act. Although Bill C-32 appears to be more flexible than the previous attempts at copyright reform, this bill is flawed to its core by the inclusion of strict, anti-circumvention provisions. Understandably Canadians are concerned at how easily their rights are trumped by the overriding protection for digital locks included in this legislation and it is to this effect that the CCER has updated its online letter writing tool.

It is essential that Canadians speak up about their concerns with Bill C-32 while it is still open to amendments. Even if you have spoken out before the Government needs to hear your concerns. Send your letter now and share this tool with your friends, family and co-workers. It is essential that we all speak up now while we have the opportunity.

URGENT: Canadian Copyright Bill C-32 Another Step Closer To Becoming Law

Bill C-32 has passed 2nd Reading and has now been referred to a special Legislative Committee for review, meaning the Canadian DMCA is one step closer to becoming law. However, the Committee charged with studying the Bill is asking for your input, the parameters and details of which can be viewed here. This is a unique opportunity for Canadians to interact directly with the lawmakers responsible for working out the specific language of the Bill before it is law and comes into force. The MP’s that form this committee believe it is important to hear from Canadians on the topic of copyright and Bill C-32:

The CCER has updated its online letter writing tool to make it quick and easy for Canadians to get their message to the Committee. The Committee and your MP need to know where you stand on this issue regardless of your views and even if you have already told them before. It is essential for Canadians to take advantage of this unique opportunity to speak out with their concerns and specific recommendations for the Committee while they are still working on the specifics of the Bill. Send your letter NOW as the Committee is only accepting submissions until the end of January, 2011.

The ESA Looks To Use ACTA To Circumvent Copyright Law In Canada

It appears that the American arm of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is keenly interested in ‘circumventing’ Canada’s domestic copyright regime, reformed or otherwise, by employing the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). On September 23, 2009 a meeting of the U.S./EU IPR Enforcement Working Group took place in Washington DC, attended by the old guard: private sector industry reps and lobby groups. The listed objectives were as follows:

  • To promote enforcement
  • To fight piracy and counterfeits
  • To promote public & private partnerships on piracy and counterfeits

Both the U.S. and EU governments and industry representatives shared concerns on IPR enforcement in Canada. ESA representatives went on to suggest that ACTA be used as a means of “raising the bar” in Canada to force Canadian government to respect TPMs and uphold its IPR commitments. U.S. representatives responded by stating that they expect all parties involved in ACTA to uphold the provisions put forth in the agreement, and will not accommodate the “lowest common denominator.”

It now appears that even if Canada modernizes its copyright regime to meet its international obligations, ACTA could be used to ‘circumvent’ domestic copyright laws and tip the balance between consumer and creator rights in favour of distributors, lobby groups and litigious-happy lawyers. While the Canadian government has been open with their public consultations on copyright reform, Canadians are left wondering how and why ACTA, an agreement which threatens to supersede the domestic Copyright Act, is so secretive and non-transparent.

Consultations On Copyright Merely A “Tactic To Confuse”

As if the pressure from US based lobby groups and trade organizations like the USTR and the MPAA wasn’t threatening enough to Canadian sovereignty, it now appears that the European Union has decided to throw its weight around in an effort to influence Canadian policy. Canada and the EU are in the midst of negotiating the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The virtues of such Agreement are being bestowed by Industry Canada as:

Liberalizing trade in goods and services could bring a potential 20% boost to bilateral trade and GDP gains of up to $12 billion (or €8.2 billion) for Canada by 2014. A CETA with the EU could deliver commercial benefits across many goods sectors, including aerospace, chemicals, plastics, wood products, aluminum, fish and seafood, light vehicles and automotive parts, and agriculture products such as wheat, beef, and pork; it could also deliver benefits across services sectors such as transportation, engineering and computer services. The study also shows potential for enhancing the relationship in areas such as investment, labour mobility, regulatory cooperation, environment, and science and technology.

However, as the omnipresent Michael Geist and The Wire explain, the devil is in the details. While this new trade agreement may indeed be beneficial to boosting bilateral trade and providing all the economic advantages that come with it, it also provides a conduit to shaping and influencing Canada’s domestic IP polices. A recently leaked document outlines plans for increased political pressure against Canada and dismisses the 2009 consultations on copyright as a “tactic to confuse”.

Now a second document has leaked, though it is not currently available online. The Wire Report reports that an EU document dated November 16, 2009, features candid comments about Canada and the EU strategy. The document, called a “Barrier Hymn Sheet” leaves little doubt about the EU’s objective:

“Put pressure on Canada so that they take IPR issues seriously and remedy the many shortcomings of their IPR protection and enforcement regime…”

The document states that the trade negotiations are a “unique opportunity [for Canada] to upgrade its IPR regime despite local anti-IPR lobbying.” It includes an assessment of recent copyright reform efforts, noting that two bills have died due to “political instability.” The document adds that the copyright reform process was revived in 2009 with the national copyright consultation, but notes dismissively it may have been a “tactic to confuse.”

Canadian Government Commits To Tougher Copyright Laws

Yes Canada, it’s like déjà vu all over again. This Government has once again committed themselves to tackling this pesky copyright thingy. In today’s Speech from the Throne it took Governor General Michaëlle Jean just 14.5 minutes out of 60 some-odd minutes to mention copyright and the direction this Government will take to update Canada’s Copyright Act:

To fuel the ingenuity of Canada’s best and brightest and bring innovative products to market, our Government will build on the unprecedented investments in Canada’s Economic Action Plan by bolstering its Science and Technology Strategy. It will launch a digital economy strategy to drive the adoption of new technology across the economy. To encourage new ideas and protect the rights of Canadians whose research, development and artistic creativity contribute to Canada’s prosperity, our Government will also strengthen laws governing intellectual property and copyright.

In terms of copyright and its implications, this was essentially a carbon copy of the Speech from the Throne delivered by this same Government on Nov. 18, 2009.

With approximately 100 sitting days scheduled for the House of Commons to be in session before the summer recess, one gets the inkling that Canadians are going to see an Act to Amend the Copyright Act hit the Order Paper and most likely First Reading before the MP’s retreat to the summer BBQ circuit.

When it comes to copyright reform in Canada battle lines have been clearly drawn, on the one side we have the ‘blame Canada’ corporate lobbyists, shills and lawyers versus those of sound mind, i.e. consumers, esteemed members of academia, lawyers with sound reasoning and tech industry coalitions. Just who truly has the ear of Government will remain to be seen in the next 100 days and beyond. However, if Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 are any indications consumers are going to be in for a rough ride as distributors will continue to push for locked down content and legislation to protect their imposed locks.

Even if this government comes to its senses and crafts a truly balanced copyright bill, Canada, and the rest of the developed world for that matter, have the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) looming over their heads. This secretly negotiated trade agreement represents a particularly vile form of policy laundering that if enacted, threatens to override Canada’s domestic copyright policy, reformed or otherwise. ACTA seeks to provide an unprecedented level of control to ISP’s, pseudo-law enforcement and content distributors to dictate how, when and where consumers can access content and associated products in the high tech economy. Yes, folks be afraid, be very afraid.