My Concerns Regarding The Copyright Modernization Act Bill C-11‏

I am a follower of @OpenMedia_ca (openmedia.ca) on Twitter. For anyone who cares about Canadaians’ digital rights, etc they are a spokesperson for the cause, along with Michael Geist (@mgeist on Twitter, ) who is also entwined within the entire digital rights arena here in Canada.

Recently OpenMedia.ca embarked on a letter writing scheme regarding Bill C-11 that is being debated right now. The scheme entailed determining your local MP and sending him/her a form letter regarding the issues. Below is the reply that I received from my local MP, Robert Chisholm, who just happened to have thrown his name onto the ballot for the federal NDP party leadership race coming up in the new year. Thought I would share:

Dear DooohHead (name changed to protect the elusive LOL),

Thank you for taking the time to email me with your concerns regarding Bill C-11 The Copyright Modernization Act.

Like many pieces of legislation currently tabled in the House of Commons there are parts of the bill that we support and parts that we oppose.

Since 2004, the New Democrats have pushed for an updating of Canada’s copyright legislation to address the need to address artist remuneration in the digital age. The New Democratic Party believes that copyright in a digital environment must be based on two fundamental principles – access for consumers and remuneration for artists.

Although there are some positive elements in Bill C-11, the Conservative government has failed to meet these two fundamental principles.

The New Democrats support provisions that would bring Canada into compliance with the WIPO copyright treaties including the “making available” right of artists.

We support the move to ensure photographers are given copyright over works their works.

We support the clarification of statutory damages by separating commercial infringement from non-commercial copyright infringement.

However, we have major concerns with key elements of the bill.

In terms of remuneration of artists, this bill attacks the right of collective licensing in numerous key areas. The government has made it clear that they oppose the extension of the private copying levy into the digital realm. The loss of this levy will cost artists millions of dollars in revenue.

We support the right of consumers to time shift and back up legal works but we oppose the government’s attempt to erase the right of artists to receive compensation for private copying of works. The refusal of the government to update the private copying levy into the digital realm will cost artists millions of dollars a year in royalties.

We support the call for visual artists to receive a resale right on works sold through public galleries.

We oppose plans to erase the obligation to pay mechanical royalties for radio as well as attempts to erase collective licensing rights in schools.

We support efforts to extend fair dealing rights for satire and parody. We are committed to clarifying the fair dealing rights in terms of education to ensure that students and educators are able to access works in the classroom while, at the same time, collective licensing regimes for the fair remuneration of creators are not undermined.

We oppose the provisions for long-distance learning that would require students and educators to destroy their class notes after 30 days.

We oppose the digital lock provisions in Bill C-11 as they go well beyond our obligations under the WIPO treaty. Legal protection for TPMs (Technological Protection Measures) should not override rights that are guaranteed to citizens under existing copyright legislation. We will look to amend the digital lock provisions to ensure there is a balance between the right of a creator to protect their work and the right of the consumer to access content for which they are legally entitled.

Myself and my colleagues will continue to challenge the Harper Government to balance the rights of artists with the rights of consumers.

Sincerely,

Robert Chisholm, MP
Dartmouth Cole- Harbour

—–Original Message—–
From: doooh_head
Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 11:31 AM
To: Chisholm, Robert – M.P.
Subject: My Concerns Regarding The Copyright Modernization Act Bill C-11

Oct 18, 2011

To: Robert.Chisholm@parl.gc.ca
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Ministers,

I would like to to take this opportunity to convey my concerns and suggestions for points of revision and amendment in regards to Bill C-11, The Copyright Modernization Act. Although Bill C-11 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. As a Canadian, I am both concerned and disheartened by how easily my rights are trumped by the overriding and all encompassing protection for digital locks contained in the legislation.

The anti-circumvention provisions included in Bill C-11, unduly equip corporate copyright owners and distributors in the music, movie and video game industries with a powerful set of tools that can be utilized to exercise absolute control over Canadians’ interaction with media and technology and may even undermine Canadians’ constitutional rights.

A solution to Bill C-11‘s contentious core problem and the means to avoid the unintended consequences generated by the broad protection for digital locks is to amend the Bill to permit circumvention for lawful purposes. Not only is this approach compliant with the WIPO Internet Treaties, but it also provides legal protection for digital locks while maintaining the crucial copyright balance. I urge this Government to either add an infringing purpose requirement to the prohibition of circumvention or add an exception to the legislation to address circumvention for lawful purposes.

I strongly believe that in addition to linking the prohibition of circumvention to the act of infringement, it is also paramount for consumers to have commercial access to the tools required to facilitate such lawful acts. It is imperative that the ban on the distribution and marketing of devices or tools that can be used to lawfully circumvent be eliminated by removing paragraph 41.1(c) and any associated references to it or any paragraphs in the Bill that would be rendered irrelevant by this change.

Some have suggested that market forces will decide the fate of digital locks in Canada and that codifying strong protection for such measures in Canadian law is simply good interim policy. I disagree. Rather than handing control of Canadians’ digital rights over to corporations, the Government must consider regulating how digital locks are implemented to ensure they are not simply used to deny user rights. I put forward to this Government that adding a labelling 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.

In review, I believe it is in the best interest of Canadian consumers and creators alike to amend Bill C-11 to clearly link the act of circumvention to infringement, remove the all-encompassing ban on circumvention tools and to establish a new TPM labelling provision.

Sincerely,

Me

CC: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
CC: The Honourable Christian Paradis Minister of Industry
CC: The Honourable James Moore Minister of Canadian Heritage
CC: The Honourable Geoff Regan
CC: Scott Simms
CC: Charlie Angus

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