Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Letters to Maurice

Over the past few days, the Canadian Independent Music Association, along with the Canadian Music Publishers Association, have been putting forth their requests for amendments to bill C-11. In short, they're essentially requesting their right to maintain a corporate copyright dictatorship over the People of Canada and the Internet. It prompted me to write my MP, Maurice Vellacott, and I urge you to do the same.

The following is our exchange.
Dear Maurice,

I have great concerns surrounding the demands for amendments to bill C-11 presented this week by the Canadian Independent Music Association and the Canadian Music Publishers Association.

As somebody who's worked in web and internet focused technology for over 11 years, the amendments proposed are not only grossly draconian, harmful and offensive to every single Canadian, they also completely undermine the Internet's spirit, purpose, and ability to function.

I'm asking you to stand up for your constituents and the rest of Canada by rejecting the amendments put forth by the CMPA and CIMA, and to ensure the bill is balanced by adding the Canadian Library Association's suggested technical amendment to digital locks, outlined here:

"The following definitions apply in this section and in sections 41.1 to 41.21.
"circumvent" means,
(b) in respect of a technological protection measure within the meaning of paragraph (b) of the definition "technological protection measure", to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate or impair the technological protection measure for the purpose of an act that is an infringement of the copyright in it or the moral rights in respect of it or for the purpose of making a copy referred to in subsection 80(1)."

You can read the rest of the CLA's amendments here:

I thank you for your attention in this very important matter.

Ryan Baldwin

Within an hour and a half, and to my surprise, Maurice emailed me back with, at first glance, appears to not be a canned response:
Dear Ryan,

Thank you for taking the time to write with your concerns about Bill C-11.

Notwithstanding many people's experience of the Internet as "free," our
government believes that a fair Internet regime includes the right of
copyright holders to be compensated for their work. We do not support
copyright infringement.

Our bill does contain a "youtube provision," which addresses concerns
about user generated content.

I also agree with "adding a labeling requirement to disclose the use of
digital locks on consumer goods be considered. A requirement as such, would
permit Canadian consumers to make informed decisions about the products they
purchase and the access and usage rights, or lack thereof, they can expect
with the ownership of a given product." After all "informed consent" has got
to be a basic requirement in honest dealings.

Yours sincerely,

Maurice Vellacott, MP

To which I responded the following:
Dear Maurice,

Thank you for your prompt reply. While I agree with the points you raised, and while I empathize with the copyright holders and understand the need to protect them from copyright infringement, my fear is that the language in the current bill with regards to digital locks dramatically changes the definition of "copyright infringement".

Under current phrasing, if I were to purchase a DVD/BluRay disk which I wanted to watch on my laptop, or stream the video from my home media server (a solution which is becoming increasingly popular), without the disk, it would be illegal for me to copy that video to my computer if I have to circumvent a digital lock. This is not "copyright infringement", it's legitimate personal use. The language in C-11, however, would constitue this as infringement. In fact, any circumvention of a digital lock for personal use is constituted as infringement under C-11.

Yes, copyright holders have rights and should have, to a degree, protection. However their rights do not trump the fair use rights of every single Canadian citizen. It scares me that the Government of Canada believes, and supports, the institution of heavy handed, draconian, and protectionist laws to assist an industry which refuses to embrace the Internet and the new digital market.

I urge you and your colleagues to demand fair and balanced legislation in this matter, and that the consumer rights of the people of your constituency, and Canada, are supported without reservation.


Ryan Baldwin


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