#SOPA 24 hours protest is just the beginning

Thursday, 19 January, 2012

Wikipedia Thank You re SOPA and PIPA protest

Even if the current incarnations of SOPA and PIPA laws are stopped, this will just be one of the many battles in a long war. The industries and lobbyists will keep on pushing. It is up to us to ensure future incarnations of SOPA and PIPA are not overreaching thus doing more harm than good.

As one of the lead Fair Copyright for Canada Calgary organizers who has written articles, sent in personal submissions for parliamentary copyright committees, and organized protests since December 2007, I try to do my part to help shape Fair Copyright laws in Canada. Given that experience, I know the anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA has to be the beginning and we should be prepared to keep up the effort for sometime to come.

See also:

* “Canadian Media Coverage of the SOPA Protest

* Toronto Star, “Michael Geist’s website went dark to protest U.S. restrictions on Internet

Jan 21, 2012 Update: Mashable, “The Week That Killed SOPA: A Timeline

Battles and War in the fight for Fair Digital Copyright for Canada – Government to Reintroduce Bill C-32 “In Exactly the Same Form”

Friday, 9 September, 2011

My heart sank reading Michael Geist, Sept 9, 2011, “Government to Reintroduce Bill C-32 “In Exactly the Same Form”” So my concerns and worries expressed in my Sept 5th, 2011 article, “Fair Digital Copyright for Canada – Insights from a new Phd thesis by Blayne Haggart” may have come true. But I am not giving up easily and Canadians shouldn’t go down without a fight.

Here is an excerpt from Winnipeg Free Press, Sept 8, 2011, “Long-awaited copyright bill returns, but top court to wade in too” (emphasis added)

“One of the hotly debated issues around the bill, around how educators are able to use copyrighted materials, has now popped up before the Supreme Court.

The justices will be hearing a case about whether grade school teachers who make copies of textbooks for their students should be shielded from paying tariffs.

The same issue came up before the Commons committee last March. Groups who represent educators and provincial ministers of education would like to see more explicit protection for classroom copying included in the “fair dealing” section of the Act, while those who represent publishers say they deserve to be compensated for the textbooks they create.

NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus said the government should be listening to criticism of the bill and making changes before it is forced to by the courts.

“There are problems that need to be fixed and we can do this in a collaborative way or a confrontational way, but I would prefer to get this bill done,” Angus said.

“I want to know that they’re actually listening to the witnesses, because witnesses have identified some serious shortfalls with the bill that can be fixed.” […]

Internal U.S. embassy cables posted by Wikileaks this year suggested former industry minister Maxime Bernier offered to show American officials a previous copyright bill before it was tabled in Parliament.

The cables also detailed how the office of another former industry minister, Tony Clement, suggested Washington include Canada on an international piracy watchlist in order to push legislative efforts along.

Fair Digital Copyright for Canada – Insights from a new Phd thesis by Blayne Haggart

Monday, 5 September, 2011

A while ago, I was interviewed by Blayne Haggart, a Carleton University Phd student, for his doctoral dissertation on digital-copyright reform in North America (Canada, Mexico, and United States). We talked about my my work with the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group plus organizing an impromptu citizens’ meeting with the then Minister of Industry Hon. Jim Prentice in December 2007 (see report here and here).

I want to publicly congratulate Blayne for defending his Phd thesis successfully in May 2011. Congrats Dr. Haggart!

In my congratulation email to Blayne, I wonder out loud the dilemma we face. I wonder if we, the Canadians who have cared so much about Digital Copyright that we spent hours to protest and sent in our written submissions for government’s various consultations over the years, have won these battles in defeating bad Digital Copyright bills but may ultimately lose the war to the lobby groups because of a Harper majority government?

I hope the Harper majority government will have learned to respect Canadians’ views expressed in the previous failed Digital copyright reform. Even though I am not optimistic as the lobby groups are strong, I am willing to be hopeful, in fact, I have no choice but be hopeful. Because at this point, a new bad copyright bill will lead to new protests and I would rather be doing something else!

Dr. Blayne Haggart’s Phd Thesis

Here is a link to Blayne’s full Phd thesis “North American Digital Copyright, Regional Governance and the Potential for Variation” (provided to me by Blayne and reposted with permission).

Canadians may find “CHAPTER 4: CANADA AND THE INTERNET TREATIES: ABORTED IMPLEMENTATIONS” (page 248 of the Phd thesis PDF file, and page 237 of hard copy) very interesting to read. Here is “Facebook activism comes to Canada” an excerpt from Chapter 4 subsection “ii. Facebook activism comes to Canada” under section “III. 2007-08: Bill C-61 and the triumph of the U.S. lobby” (page 297 of the Phd thesis PDF file, and page 286 of hard copy),

ii. Facebook activism comes to Canada

Following his arrival at Industry Canada, Prentice attempted to introduce a DMCA- style copyright bill and ended up fomenting widespread public protests that panicked the government, confounded Cabinet colleagues and led to a six-month delay in the bill’s introduction that rendered it collateral damage when the September 2008 election was called. This uprising vindicated Austin and Bernier’s intuition about the political dangers of copyright reform. In the end, the Conservative’s Bill C-61, like the Liberals’ Bill C-60, never got beyond first reading.

In the October 16, 2007, Speech from the Throne, the Conservative government pledged to “improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright reform” (Canada 2007). When the government placed An Act to Amend the Copyright Act on the Order Paper on December 10, 2007, observers of Canadian copyright expected that this new bill would be much closer to the DMCA than the Liberals’ C-60 had been.216

What happened next caught everyone off guard. The first weekend in December, Geist set up a Facebook page, Fair Copyright for Canada (FCFC).217 The site’s initial objectives were relatively modest: to inform people and to get people involved in opposing the bill. Its main demand was that the government listen to the public. Eventually, this demand became more specific: that the government hold public consultations on any new bill. Geist and others critiqued the upcoming bill by referring to it as the “Canadian DMCA.” This approach not only focused on a bad policy (i.e., DMCA-like law would be bad for Canada) but linked the issue to the always-latent sentiment of Canadian anti-Americanism. This symbolic bricolage, which played to a long-standing Canadian prejudice, was made more potent given the fact that the United States, and U.S.-based industries were the main groups lobbying for this bill. It was such a powerful linkage that it necessitated a direct rebuttal from the government, which insisted that the bill was indeed “Made in Canada” and his opponents were practicing base anti-Americanism.

With Geist’s Facebook page, the public interest in copyright that had been building for almost a decade exploded into view. After only a month (in January 2008), the page had almost 40,000 members; as of June 2010 it had just under 88,000 members. FCFC proponents argued these numbers represented frustration with the “resistance on the part of our policymakers to grapple with what’s really going on and to produce solutions that are right for us,” in the words of Toronto-based technology lawyer and FCFC member Rob Hyndman (Interview by author, April 22, 2008). In contrast, the government saw the protests as representing only a passionate minority causing “a lot of miscommunication, a lot of misinformation,” according to Jean-Sébastien Rioux, Chief of Staff to then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice (Rioux, interview by author, February 26, 2009).

Individuals also used the FCFC page to organize quasi-independent lobbying efforts, local FCFC groups and grassroots-action campaigns (Geist, interview by author, May 14, 2008). One member, Kempton Lam, a Calgary blogger, software engineer, consultant and documentary maker, used FCFC to organize an impromptu meeting (covered by the mainstream media) with Prentice during a Christmas Open House in his riding office on December 8. Between 40 and 60 people showed up and were eventually able to talk with the minister.218 This Facebook-based activism and the mainstream media press it attracted worried Conservative MPs, who had to deal with irate constituents on an unfamiliar issue, while cabinet ministers who understood the technology were also reluctant to move forward on this copyright bill (Austin, interview by author, April 30, 2008).”


“This dissertation proposes an historical-institutionalist framework for understanding regional governance issues in general and North American governance in particular. Using digital- copyright reform as a test issue, it demonstrates that regional institutionalization can preserve differences and does not necessarily lead to regional policy convergence. This conclusion emerges from historical institutionalism’s focus on understanding the interaction of the policy-relevant ideas, institutions and interests shaping a region, no matter on what “level” they may be located. Regional governance processes must be understood within their own particular historical contexts. This approach allows the researcher to account for relevant influences that are either downplayed or ignored in other approaches to regionalism.

With respect to copyright, this dissertation finds that U.S. digital-copyright policy is shaped decisively by its own domestic ideas, institutions and interests, with international and regional factors playing a minimal role. For Canada and Mexico, while the United States has attempted to influence copyright reform in its neighbours, both countries’ copyright policies continue to be influenced significantly by domestic factors, and both countries continue to display significant copyright-policy autonomy. U.S. ability to influence its neighbours is constrained by the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) guarantee of market access, which limits the U.S. ability to link copyright reform to improved access to its market, suggesting that NAFTA’s rules play a role in maintaining policy autonomy and reducing the potential for policy convergence.”

P.S. Blayne must be doing his job right since he received, in June 2010, some alarming and unseemly comments from Minister James Moore. [HT Blayne]

Unfortunately, I think many people who don’t totally agree with Moore have sadly seen the dark sides of James Moore. In my case, I have shared my James Moore experiences in “Democratic right Twitter-blocked by @MPJamesMoore” (March 2011).

University of Calgary drops Access Copyright Licence

Tuesday, 12 July, 2011

At this point, I’ve written way more about recent Canadian copyright law than I ever wished or planned to. But as a Canadian who cares about our digital future, I see I don’t have any choice but to make my voice heard and to keep an eye on things!

With a Harper majority government, judging from what the government tried to do previously, I expect to find it will kowtow to the US government and the lobbyists represented industrial giants and again try to ignore the loud complains by Canadians in the various copyright consultations.

Here is some information on what the University of Calgary decided to do.

* IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT, JULY 6, 2011 – The University of Calgary has notified Access Copyright, the Copyright Collective, that as of September 1, 2011, the university will no longer operate under the Interim Tariff as presented by the Copyright Board in December 2010. Read the rest of this entry »

Flawed Digital Copyright Modernization Act “Fixable”?

Thursday, 3 June, 2010

I’ve finished reading Michael Geist’s “The Canadian Copyright Bill: Flawed But Fixable” and started to read the Bill C-32 (PDF file). Here is an excerpt from Michael’s article,

“The foundational principle of the new bill remains that anytime a digital lock is used – whether on books, movies, music, or electronic devices – the lock trumps virtually all other rights.  In other words, in the battle between two sets of property rights – those of the intellectual property rights holder and those of the consumer who has purchased the tangible or intangible property – the IP rights holder always wins.  This represents market intervention for a particular business model by a government supposedly committed to the free market and it means that the existing fair dealing rights (including research, private study, news reporting, criticism, and review) and the proposed new rights (parody, satire, education, time shifting, format shifting, backup copies) all cease to function effectively so long as the rights holder places a digital lock on their content or device.  Moreover, the digital lock approach is not limited to fair dealing – library provisions again include a requirement for digital copies to self-destruct within five days and distance learning teaching provisions require the destruction of materials 30 days after the course concludes.”

My initial reaction was, “What the heck? Did the Government of Canada (the ministers) listen to Canadians in the Canada-wide online and offline consultations _at all_ ?

May be I shouldn’t have been surprised by the industrial biased when ministers Tony Clement and James Moore unveiled the bill at Electronic Arts instead of a more neutral location that might signified a more balanced approach to the two sets of property rights (rights holders’ vs consumers’).

Michael is more optimistic and generous and called the bill “Flawed But Fixable. I am more pessimistic and, I think, more realistic in not having high hopes. I will try to read and understand different parts of C-32 and feedback from different people.

Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-32) introduced

Wednesday, 2 June, 2010

Update: – Have a look of Bill C-32 (PDF file). [HT Corey]

– Read Michael’s “The Canadian Copyright Bill: Flawed But Fixable” to find out his first impression from attending the media lockup. Here is an excerpt,

“The digital lock provisions are by far the biggest flaw in the bill, rules that some will argue renders it beyond repair.  I disagree. The flaw must be fixed, but there is much to support within the proposal. There will undoubtedly be attacks on the fair dealing reforms and pressure to repeal them, along with the U.S. and the copyright lobby demanding that their digital lock provisions be left untouched.  If Canadians stay quiet, both are distinct possibilities.  If they speak out, perhaps the bill can be fixed.  I’ll post an update of my 30 things you can do shortly.”

Copyright bill would outlaw breaking digital locks [CBC] The following is an excerpt from CBC.

  • “The express legalization of format shifting, or the copying of content from one device to another, such as a CD to a computer or an iPod.
  • The express legalization of time shifting, or recording television programs for later viewing but not for the purposes of building up a library.
  • A “YouTube” clause that allows people to mash up media under certain circumstances, as long as it’s not for commercial gain.
  • A “notice-and-notice” system where copyright holders will inform internet providers of possible piracy from their customers. The ISP would then be required to notify the customer that he or she was violating the law.
  • A differentiation of commercial copyright violation versus individual violation. Individuals found violating copyright law could be liable for penalties between $100 and $5,000, which is below the current $20,000 maximum.
  • New exceptions to fair dealing that will allow copyright violations for the purposes of parody, satire and education.”

Will read the bill in full to find out more when it is posted online.


With this Notice Paper, looks like the bill is coming soon. Will have to take a closer look of the bill when it is tabled. [HT Michael Geist]

Check out  “An Unofficial User Guide to the Coming Copyright Bill

Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks?

Wednesday, 5 May, 2010

If Prof. Michael Geist is right in “PMO Issues The Order: Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks“, then this is very troubling development as it means the Harper government has not listened to Canadians’ concerns and the months of consultations across Canada were just for show.

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