Earlier this month, the Harper Conservatives introduced a new copyright bill, meant to make Canada's laws more in tune with America's. The Conservatives plan to fast tract this bill into law, before Christmas, without debate. And since the Conservatives have a majority, it will get passed unless people start to make some noise about it.
If you are a Canadian who enjoys our current freedoms online, than it is important to come together and stop this bill from being passed.
What will Bill C-11 (The Copyright Bill) Stop Canadians from doing?
-If the product has a digital lock, where the program has been designed so that the consumer cannot immediately modify or duplicate a product without making their own alterations to it, you can no longer make backup copies of your CDs, DVDs, and other devices. Despite the fact that owners have a right to create a back up copy of all their purchases, this new bill will make it illegal to give you the ability to access that right.
-If there is a digital lock, you can no longer transfer a song from your CD to your ipod, computer or other digital device. Transferring that song would be illegal.
-Downloading a movie that you already own will be illegal. If a store sells you a DVD that is faulty, but refuses to refund your purchase, you no longer have the ability to download that same information to your computer.
-If your DVD or blu-ray has sub-par rendering, you can no longer access a better version from the internet unless the company puts it on there. And there is currently no legal, or profitable reason for them to put it there.
-You want to download a classic movie that is no longer available in your community? This bill makes that illegal.
-You just downloaded a hack, because the software that came with your office supplies doesn't run on your desktop model, and the patch provided by the company doesn't work. Now because you downloaded something that would make your legally purchased equipment work, you have broken the law.
-Your kids just downloaded a new song that they would have never heard on the radio. While today, that practice is legal, and can help people find music and local independent bands that they'd never hear otherwise, when the bill is passed, your kids' curiosity will make them criminals.
-Under the new bill, teachers will be allowed to use copyrighted materials in the classroom, however, thirty days after completing the class, both the students and teachers must destroy all works used. A limited amount of copyright material is allowed for educational purposes under the fair use practices.
-As it currently stands, there is currently no differentiation in the bill between people downloading material for their own private library, and those downloading to make a profit off the black market.
-The policies of this bill that have already been enacted in America have failed to stop piracy in their country, with the copyright holders only being able to sue one fan at a time. On top of this, the worst offenders of copyright will continue to get away with pirating, as they will find back doors, use proxy servers and other tactics that will make catching them an unnecessary cat and mouse game. Going after them will cause tax payers dollars to hunt down students with little cash and lots of free time.
-Sources point to the main parts of this bill coming from American lobbyists pushing to get Canada's law more in line with America's, which were specifically designed to help American businesses over the general public's rights.
Basic Questions and Answers About the Bill
Why is this Bill being passed?
To make Canada's copyright law more in line with America's, despite the fact that America has some of the strictest copyright laws on the planet. Some politicians believe that sellers should have more rights than consumers.
Will this bill help the entertainment industry?
It will help the American entertainment industry. Since most films are American. The royalties will leave the country and go to their US business owners. It will also allow the price of official products to be raised, because if there is no cheap alternative, there is much less incentive for businesses to create a quality product at a fair price.
Whether it helps the Canadian entertainment industry is still unclear. One of the major obstacles that hold back Canadian productions is lack of access. Canadians don't have the manufacturing ability or potential buyer's market to keep up with American production. As a result, America's entertainment industry is able to cover a larger area than Canada's. However, the ability to promote Canadian entertainment over the internet allows for the near unlimited sources of the web to even the playing field a bit and let our high quality works get more exposure and attention.
What will happen to those prosecuted for breaking these new laws?
They'll most likely get a fine, or jail time along with a criminal record. If you want the resources of the federal court system to be used with these types of cases, spending your tax dollars to deal with these situations, than you might actually want to support this bill. If you want to help Canada lower its deficit, stand against this bill.
Doesn't the high amount of downloading use up bandwidth on the internet?
Yes and no. Doing anything on the internet uses up bandwidth, the larger or more complex the action, the more bandwidth is used. Currently, internet providers have given no hard evidence that there is a bandwidth shortage, or that massive usage slows down internet activity in an area using more than one IP address, and internet providers refuse to reveal to the government how much providing bandwidth to customers actually costs them. Netflix says that its service costs as low as 1 cent per gigabyte to provide.
Don't corporations lose millions a year on piracy?
Yes and no. While it's undeniable that some people who would buy a DVD might not because there is a free version available online, it is also undeniable that a wide audience would be exposed to the product that otherwise wouldn't have bothered with it. This can get the creators more exposure, and allow them to have more leverage in dealing for product placement. Plus after seeing a good film, many people will buy a legitimate copy of it, to help support more like it.
The large numbers of lost revenue that businesses claim from piracy is because they use the assumption that everyone who has seen an illegitimate copy of their product was going to buy it if the free alternative wasn't available. The model of making profit on releasing creative projects is changing, and the companies that made millions mastering the system of the old model don't know how to control the new technology.
Will this bill keep entertainment businesses employed?
Possibly, some online businesses like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes will get more businesses because of this, but local record and retail stores might actually suffer. If people are unable to legally take a CD and copy it to their computer or ipod because of a digital lock, there is less incentive for them to buy it. If someone wants to take out a piece of a movie for a creating an artistic project, they'll be less likely to do buy the movie if they don't want to break the law. If you have no freedom to alter or copy DVD's, why buy them when you can just watch them on Netflix?
Wasn't copyright created to protect the artists? Wouldn't more of it be a good thing?
The concept of copyright didn't exist until after the Glorious Revolution (of 1688) in Britain, where the London Company of Stationers, who had worked as the crown's monopoly on censorship had to justify their continued existence to the new government, who hated censorship. The parliament said that authors could have control over their works. Wanting to stay relevant, the London Company of Stationers went to parliament, and said that authors did have a monopoly on printing their works, but their works should be considered property, so the phrase 'intellectual copyright' was formed. And since it was property, it could be sold as property. In order for authors to be published, they had to sign away their rights, and the printers would become the owners until the works became public domain. The longer copyright law was extended, the more money the printers, (and not necessarily the original artists) could potentially make.
It should be noted that back when copyright was first invented, it only lasted for 14 years and could be renewed for another 14 until the works went into public domain. Today in Canada, copyright lasts the creators' lifetime plus another 50 years. In America it's life plus another 70.
Many artists and creators also express dissatisfaction at the current state of the copyright laws.
Yes, but it was recently announced on WikiLeaks (as reported in the Toronto Star newspaper,) that former Industry Minister Tony Clement had suggested to an American lobbyist that Canada be added onto the US piracy watchlist in order help pass copyright reform, since their attempts to introduce a bill before then had met with massive disapproval. A later memo on WikiLeaks suggested that Canadian Minister of Industry Maxime Bernier had a US cabal look over the latest copyright bill before passing it into parliament.
How will the Government enforce the laws introduced in this bill?