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Bill C-61: Let's Talk About Sex Baby!

Posted by Goran / July 15, 2008

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Alright. Now that I've grabbed your attention, I'd like to discuss a serious matter regarding a different form of 'reproduction'. I’m not sure about how many Canadians are actually aware of this, but the Conservative-led Federal Government is attempting to slide a new law (Bill C-61) under the electorate radar; a law which could impact all Canadians while impeding access to information and cultural media by prohibiting such activities as private copying, sharing, and fair dealing. I begin here with the assumption that all Midnight Poutiners have an interest in accessing information and cultural media. Thus, they would inherently be concerned about the future course of Canadian Copyright Law. But how well informed are we?

The impetus for changing the Canadian Copyright Act has been largely external. International obligations, namely WIPO, have been begun exerting moderate pressure on member jurisdictions to conform to treaty standards. Canada has been criticized for failing to reflect its treaty obligations within its copyright legislation. However, a more militant source of pressure has come from our southern neighbours.

In 1998, US Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), intended to bring US copyright up to speed with its international treaty obligations and prepare the law for the demands of the digital era. This ultra-conservative Act of Congress has been severely criticized both within the US and from abroad. The plethora of discontent has highlighted a strong disapproval (as well practical failure) of Digital Rights Management (DRM) measures, which are aimed at prohibiting access to digital versions of copyright works. Why then, are the conservatives intent on mimicking the failure of our allies?

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As we all know, Canada’s relationship with the US can be better classified as one of dependence rather than symbiosis. US pressure informs a great deal of Canadian political and legal decisions. Thus, it comes as no surprise that US-backed politicians and lobby groups are calling for Canada to copy US copyright law and help protect multi-billion-dollar American media industries. But are we happy with this picture?

To a great extent, political responses must consider certain external matters. Often, laws that lack such practicality also lack efficacy. However, this statement does not explain the impartiality and unawareness of Canadian voters when it comes to matters of copyright. We seem content in allowing foreign politicians and industries to call the shots and inform our legislative schema. It would appear that the average Canadian simply doesn’t care about accessing culture and information. Because we don’t see it as a matter of electoral importance (like healthcare, the environment, education, foreign policy, etc.), we allow other stakeholders (i.e. foreign governments and corporations) to make our decisions.

I’m not altogether content with this picture. Although I’m not necessarily advocating activism, I’d love to see a greater level of awareness. I challenge Canadian voters to inform themselves and express their opinions. It’s not complicated. University of Ottawa law professor, Michael Geist, maintains a highly informative and accessible blog. He is currently producing a daily series entitled ’61 Reforms to C-61’, and it’s a great place to start. Likewise, McGill University law professor, David Lametti, has created a Copyright Reform wiki on the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy website. He invites those interested to express their opinions on problematic features of the proposed law. And for the activist in you, the Montreal chapter of a ‘Fair Copyright for Canada’ has been holding regular meetings to discuss strategies, such as meetings with local MP’s, while maintaining yet another highly informative wiki. In addition, a number of social networks, such as facebook groups, also exist.

I encourage all those interested to check out the aforementioned organizations and contribute. They are all looking for support and would love to hear your opinions. I believe that Canadians do care deeply about accessing information and sharing our culture. I think it’s time we demonstrate our concern about copyright governance. I too am interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter. Please post any comments or questions you may have below.

Discussion

13 Comments

protogenes / July 16, 2008 at 08:52 am
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Many of us have been fighting this scam for months. Glad you're aboard.
James / July 16, 2008 at 09:10 am
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Don't forget Digital Copyright Canada: http://www.digital-copyright.ca/ with its http://KillBillC61.ca/. It was particularly active during the last bill, C-60.
Jer / July 16, 2008 at 09:13 am
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I'm actually surprised. I think Canadians have really jumped on this issue, despite it's relative un-sexiness. So don't underestimate the public's awareness on the bill and on intellectual property in general. There's been tons of media coverage on the bill, most of it detailing the negative and harmful aspects of the bill. And with academics (like Geist) and a host of other professional associations, bloggers, and self-organized groups all voicing their opinions on the matter, there's actually a significant amount of public discourse on C61. Not that there isn't room for more....anyone who loves some of pictures we use on Midnight Poutine, the podcasts, the videos and other sites we link to has reason to worry about the substance of the bill. So yeah, keep talking Canada. And do write your local MP. And use any blog or other form of public expression you have to speak your mind on C61.
G / July 16, 2008 at 10:00 am
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Those that have jumped, have indeed done so. I find that to be a small fraction of the population, although I could be wrong. Perhaps you just hang out with some very well aware and politically minded people. I, on the other hand, often find myself having to explain what copyright is. In such conversations, it's hard to get to the nuances between C-61 and the Copyright Act. Through a Fair Copyright for Canada (Montreal), I was told that even (or especially) (some) MP's don't quite understand the importance nor the potential side effects of the bill. A large number of MP's are still getting used to the terms 'e-mail' and 'internet'. So let's not get into 'downloading', 'P2P', 'podcasting', etc. They're from a different time, and this clearly effects how they see things. Unless, of course, they are just acting/playing stupid, as politicians tend to do. In any case, they depend on your vote. This is why it is especially important that you get in touch with your MP and voice your concern, as Jer mentioned. Be prepared to tell them what is wrong with the bill, why you think it's wrong, and how you think it could be changed for the better. Don't just tell them that it's bad and should be scrapped. This way your words will have greater effect.
Jonathan / July 16, 2008 at 10:24 am
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This bill is indeed unwise. Is there any sort of petition to sign against the bill?
Patrick Doyle / August 1, 2008 at 03:40 am
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Well most of us Canadians are starting to realize that our Prime Minister is afraid of George Bush or in love with him. After reading about this Bill C-61 and the article about the Canadian that can't come home because George Bush Says so and Harper is afraid to make waves.
What happened to Canadianism, we have our own Copyright laws, we used to be peace keepers not war mongers. In three years we have become another State of the USA. Did not Paul Martin warn us of the PC aganda. Bill C-61 must die to protect what Canadian Dignity and Honor we have left. What ever happened to "Stand on Gaurd for thee". Pierre Trudeau, and Lester B. Person must be rolling on their graves as they watch what happens and the Chicken ass liberals of today...
c / August 5, 2008 at 04:16 pm
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this is not the content I would expect to see from a City Blog, but thanks.
golu dolls / February 13, 2019 at 12:04 am
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kanchipuramsarees / February 13, 2019 at 12:04 am
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kanchipuramsarees / February 13, 2019 at 12:04 am
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herbal powder / February 13, 2019 at 12:05 am
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