Bill C-11: copyright, the movie

The U.S. copyright war is headed for a Hollywood-esque happy ending–unlike the one in Canada


Correction: in an earlier version of this post, I bungled the numbers of every copyright bill mentioned, each time they were mentioned. You realize that I’ve been covering this stuff for years, right? I regret the error, and will try to get more sleep tonight.

A ragtag group of plucky idealists stand up to bullying corporations who seek private profit at the expense of public freedom. The protesters’ message spreads, their numbers swell, and the people stand united. They demand action from politicians whose allegiances have strayed, and they speak truth to power in creative and inspiring ways. Their voices combined cannot be ignored. The people prevail.

It’s awfully cheesy—a Hollywood remake of a much darker foreign film. In the original Canadian version, the people got screwed.

That’s how SOPA is different from Bill C-11. When the anti-SOPA protests were heating up a few weeks back, I’ll admit it, I was bored. I’d seen this movie before, and I knew how it was going to end. I was wrong. SOPA is dead, while Bill C-11 is set to pass.

In 2008, when 100,000 Canadians protested an earlier anti-piracy bill, they were patronized and placated with a hollow public consultation. Earlier they had succeeded in stalling a bill to death, but then came the predictable sequel, in which the monster rose from the grave to terrorize us again (did you like C-60 better than C-61? That regressive prequel C-32 sure sucked.) Like all bad horror franchises, the monster outlasted our interest in it, and Bill C-11 (the series reboot) is set to become a law, with the frightening digital lock protections intact.

Heritage Minister James Moore promises (threatens?) that there’s little room for change in the bill, yet Micheal Geist points out that there’s much backroom industry pressure to alter the legislation to be more punitive, not less. The specific changes that lobbyists request have much in common with SOPA.  Website blocking and intermediate liability are among the pressure points, and Geist makes a compelling argument that if Moore adopts these provisions, sites like YouTube could be seen as lawbreakers. There’s also the suggestion of disconnection penalties for accused infringers, a reprehensible tactic that’s failing to curb piracy in France.

All of these are SOPA-esque measures that Americans rejected. But the international market has saved many a Hollywood flop. Maybe we’ll eat their garbage.

Jesse Brown is the host of TVO.org’s Search Engine podcast. He is on Twitter @jessebrown


Bill C-11: copyright, the movie

  1. Canadians already pay about 300% in “music industry taxes” whenever we buy a $69.00 100-pack of CD’s to back up our computers on. Backing up our computers and data it has nothing to do with the music industry, yet every CDR sold in Canada costs at least 3-4 times as much as it does anywhere else on the planet, because the Canadian government collects taxes to hand over to corporations.

    100 CDRom discs for computer use:

    US Price: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3994433&csid=_21

    Canadian price: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2884796&CatId=55

    And now, they want to make things even worse for Canadians? Isn’t it already ridiculous enough?

    Is this what THE PEOPLE of Canada formed a government for? To artificially inflate corporations’ earnings and prop up their share values and CEO’s bonus packets in leiu of actually having them simply adjust their business model and DO A GOOD JOB for a change? I THINK NOT!

    The Canadian taxpayer does NOT pay taxes to support corporations’ laziness and greed! If the taxes that the Canadian government collects for those corporations isn’t enough already, then why aren’t the ARTISTS being compensated with ALL of that tax revenue? It all goes into corporate coffers–or the vast majority of it, anyway–and it never helps anyone but the corporate bottom line and the CEO’s who get their “performance bonuses” while never doing a damned thing to earn even half of what the average minimum wage earner gets!

    It’s time that we did away with the CDR tax entirely, and forced this industry to actually DO A BETTER JOB and earn their income like the rest of us, instead of using criminals in government to prop up their corporate profit sharing plans.

    Add to this the fact that we also pay all of the administration costs to collect the taxes from the citizens of Canada and to “disburse it to the corporations” involved…it’s time that we looked at what’s already gone wrong in the government of Canada and start FIXING THINGS…not just adopting the standard US policy of “If it’s broke, don’t fix it…make it ridiculously more complex, wasteful and damaging, and maybe people won’t notice how bad it really is for everyone?”

    • Oh how I wish we could change. But everyone in my fucking province of Alberta seems to be a dumbfuck conservative voter, and all the other young people I know are too lazy to vote thinking it won’t make a difference. Canada is so fucked. How 40% of the votes can hand you a majority I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. The system is so fucked. I want to go on a hunger strike for fuck sakes

      • If it makes you feel any better, Ontario isn’t far behind…if not in the lead as far as wilfull ignorance and pure idiocy are concerned.

        For decades, Ontario residents paid tax money to build a hydroelectric generation station and power transmission grid called Ontario Hydro.  Of course, it was run by morons (aka: politician-appointed beaurocrats) and eventually was so far in debt that the “government of Ontario” decided to get out of the business…and sold Ontario Hydro to a corporation.  Of course, the people of Ontario didn’t get any of our money back when it was sold…and nobody complained about that at all.  Outright robbery, and nobody said a word.

        The corporation then made a deal with the government–not the people–that all existing debts would be “assumed by the corporation”, in return for being able to pass those debts on DIRECTLY to the power customers who had just lost a provincial asset without compensation…and we’re still paying this “debt retirement fee” on every single power bill we receive.

        To add insult to injury, while our wonderfully “smarter than all of us” politicians and beaurocrats ran the public utility into the ground, we all dutifully paid our power bills.

        While it was being sold without consultation of the public who actually OWNED IT, we dutifully paid our power bills.

        After it was sold, we continued to dutifully pay not only our power bills, but we also paid the debts of the corporation who purchased our property without a single penny of compensation to us for our losses.

        Technically, we paid to create it, paid to use it, lost 100% of our investment when our government sold it, continued to pay a new third-party essentially to use our own utility which was stolen from us, and pay off the debts that the third-party corporation accested…but only if we paid for them.

        Still, to this day, nobody complains…I doubt that anybody even notices that we’ve essentially paid for the same thing three times over, while we were paying for our own power as we consumed it.

        So no…it ain’t just Alberta…this whole bloody country needs a serious mental enema…AND SOON!

        • Sir,
          It goes with little saying that deregulation in many cases leads to monopolistic corporations unless the market can be liberalized to allow for competition. Pseudo-competition is simply a neo-liberal invention.

          As for getting the money back, i’m sure it was used to pay for the many other services Ontarians want, but don’t want to pay for, and complain when the government bungles it all up. I’m from the Waterloo Region – apparently the people here want a light-rail transit system for a population under 400k to the point where they would invent a cost-benefit analysis that would include enough benefits (ie. Environment) so as to warrant it. No doubt these same people will complain when their taxes rise while the project comes in over budget and off time. But this is what some people want – more state-run services -as if doing so in the past is either more efficient or effective.

  2. These laws will be ignored in the same way the conservatives ignored our concerns. 

  3. For those that take exception to such a short-sighted, profit-driven and freedom-stomping legislative measure, please take the time to voice your opinion.  Further details may be found at http://www.ccer.ca; support your opposition members, remind your Conservative representatives of their collective political best interest and share this story!

  4. If Bill C-11 concerns you it literally only takes a minute to send your
    MP and other government officials an email with the link below:


    Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights

    Below are some resources if anyone wants to know more ( I have included some of my own thoughts about this Bill as well):

    “Did you get accused of internet piracy but no evidence has been
    presented and a trial date hasn’t even been set? Under C-11 your ISP
    will now be forced to terminate your internet access.” – UN has proposed
    that internet access should be a human right. (It’s the future
    telephone system, modern life is increasingly dependent on it)



    Recent changes make Bill C-11 very much like the DMCA and SOPA


    1. Bill C-11 digital lock rules go way too far.
    2. Can’t unlock a DVD, CD, or Video game for fair use.
    a. I.e. you can’t transfer movies or music from your cd/dvd collection to your iPod anymore
    3. Can’t unlock a cell phone to switch to another provider.
    4. Cant unlock ebooks for research or private study
    5. Obligated to destroy new course materials deployed in an electronic format
    6. TV shows can be flag by broadcasters making recordings on your PVR/DRV illegal
    a. I.e. having a copy of the last CFL game on your DVR would be illegal
    7. Apparently Viacom has a grievance with youtube. The new legislation
    would allow them to exercise legal action against youtube in Canada.
    a. Under new legislation youtube may become a thing of the past in Canada.
    8. New legislation looks like it will hinder creativity with digital materials.

    The Problem is overstated (ideas to take into consideration):

    1. It’s already illegal to distribute copyrighted material
    a. Why do we need further legislation?
    2. The number of online downloads times the retail price does not equal
    the loss of revenue to industry. Not every 15 year old who downloads
    something actually has money to purchase a retail copy; so the industry
    would not get the revenue anyway.
    3. I don’t condone digital piracy, but it’s not the same as physical property theft.
    a. In digital piracy the thing being stolen is a new copy of something created by the pirate.
    b. With physical theft someone is deprived of something they possessed.

    • Given the nature of the crime the government could better allocate our resources in other ways.

    My friend Andrew was unable to comment, but he wanted to add the following points:

    1. Illegal already – writing it twice doesn’t make it twice as effective
    – enforcement methods can be changed – but there is no requirement to
    reply to the knee jerk/money lobbying made by the industry without
    proper and correct research – while also avoiding wasting the tax payers
    money to pay for the industries policing.
    2. Claiming a huge loss (while important) is irrelevant if the product
    could never be purchased in the first place. Photoshop/3D Studio Max
    $1000-$3500 no teen can afford that – their action of piracy however
    wrong can’t in turn be followed up by a company claiming a loss for a
    product that would in turn never have been sold in the first place.
    The following link brings up an interesting point. Something that gets
    overlooked with this issue is that piracy can lead to increased sales
    for a company though increased exposure of their product to the public.
    It is essentially free advertisement for the company.

    In the case of a program like 3D Studio Max (which is 3D computer
    graphics software used in video game design and by the TV/Film industry)
    a teen that pirates this $3500 program may cultivate new skills and
    avenues for creativity. If they follow this up by pursuing employment
    with their new found interest/skills the company that employs them to
    create 3D graphics will buy the $3500 software. I have seen this happen
    with 3D Studio Max and other programs used to create digital media.

    While this does not justify/condone piracy, it does show that there are additional dynamics to consider.


    Neil Gaiman: Piracy Leads to More Book Sales
    Neil Gaiman, author of the ‘Sandman’ graphic novels and best-seller
    ‘American Gods,’ talked about the pirating of his titles to OpenRight
    Group. Ap…


    software – Can acts of IP piracy be more beneficial than harmful? – Skeptics – Stack Exchange
    McMillen believes that the more people who steal his games, the more
    will eventually buy them. He sees piracy as nothing more than a huge
    sampling exercise. “If the game gets pirated heavily, if it’s a good
    game that people really like, they’re going to either buy it eventually
    or they’re go…
    Movie Piracy & Streaming May Actually Increase Sales
    The battle over media piracy has been raging for years. Conventional
    wisdom dictates that piracy hurts the finances of the artists and
    corporations who produce the product. That notion has bee…

  5. RE: Michael Geist

    Geist and his supporters often complain that proposed copyright reforms are simply intended to “preserve outdated business models”. Yet the reforms he proposes will accomplish just that,
    while also impeding the adoption of newer, innovative models for legitimate distribution of
    creative works.Here are three “business models” that stand to benefit the most from Geist’s proposed amendments:

    Hacking Chip Manufacturers. It’s no secret that much of the opposition to the TPM provisions in Bill C-11 can be traced back to a coalition of TPM hacking tool exporters here in Canada. As one of the last remaining countries where TPM hacking remains legal, it has become a viable
    business model for a number of small back-room Canadian businesses to export these chips to WIPO-compliant nations, especially the US (Canadian websites like Modchipcentral offer free shipping to anywhere in North America). This was even parodied in an episode of the NBC show
    Chuck where “Morgan shows Chuck a computer chip circuit board he got illicitly from Canada that can copy anything digital: videogames, movies, files of all kinds.” During the government’s 2009 open consultation on copyright reform, these hacking chip makers pleaded with their customers to send letters to the Canadian government demanding that TPM-hacking remain legal in Canada. The current TPM provisions in Bill C-11 would make this business model illegal in Canada, yet Geist demands that those provisions be considerably weakened.

    Illegal BitTorrent Websites. It is also well known that Canada is home to many of the world’s most popular BitTorrent websites. There is no question that these websites enable and induce infringement on a massive scale. They exist primarily to provide links to infringing content hosted
    elsewhere on the Internet, while making revenue from advertising on their own site. It is a dubious business model that has been found to be illegal in almost every other jurisdiction that has
    considered the matter. However, as he made clear in his post, Geist believes that websites that are primarily operated to enable infringement should not be liable for any acts of infringement under Bill C-11. The weaker enablement clause that Geist favours could support business models that rely on encouraging, inducing or enabling end-user infringement, such as
    BitTorrent sites like Vancouver-based IsoHunt.

    Illegal Hosting Services. As I recently pointed out, certain Canadian hosting providers
    have turned Canada’s weak copyright laws into a business model to provide hosting services to websites that would face greater legal challenges elsewhere. There’s no question that, as with BitTorrent websites and mod chip exporting, this can sometimes be a profitable business model. The operator of MegaUpload, whose revenues were reported at upwards of $175 million, considered moving to Canada to avoid legal hassles. Geist has stated that he opposes reforms to Bill C-11′s intermediary safe harbours that would ensure that sites like MegaUpload
    could no longer operate in Canada. While it may be that a website that hosts and sells access to infringing content can be a profitable venture, is it the kind of business models our copyright laws should encourage?

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