Canadian DCMA: Protect Your Anus

by Gordon McDowell

If you’re a Canadian concerned about your fair-use rights (to say, quote a verse from a song without having to ask for permission), or Canada’s ability to compete in the world economy… then you’ve probably already asked yourself, “What can I do to ensure Canada’s future copyright legislation isn’t written strictly to appease multinational media corporations?”

Hell, we all have.

There’s some sound advice out there, to be sure. Michael Geist has 50 suggestions how you can make a difference. There is a Facebook group available to help organize activities. And activists are collecting media clips you can use to help create your own viral video campaigns.

But what if you are the Honorable Jim Prentice? You’d be looking at Michael Geist‘s call-to-action and thinking to yourself, “It doesn’t look like there’s anything on that list for me…”

Jim, don’t you worry! There’s opportunity for everyone to help out when it comes to improving Canadian copyright law. In fact, as Canada’s Federal Industry Minister who is tabling legislation to update , you’re in the perfect position to help!

The first thing to remember is, we’re on your side. Copyright activists might crash your occasional constituent open house, but that’s just because we’re worried you might fail to recognize the disaster which is American copyright policy. Certainly we believe you’ve only heard from proponents of stricter copyright.

In 2003, out of 98 conservative MPs only yourself and 2 others voted to extend the definition of marriage in Canada to include same-sex couples. This either shows you’re capable or reasoning problems out logically… or you’re more then happy to let the gays fall into this death spiral we call marriage. They kept whining about not being able to marry eh? Well this will learn ’em.

So keeping an open mind, here’s what music industry lobbyists don’t want you to know about American copyright, and the DMCA:

If you’ve gotten this far, you probably see yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. American DMCA has been a shit-show, but at least American lobbyists don’t show up and disrupt your parties . Yet if you give in to their demands, you’ll be accused of not listening to the needs of Canadians!

And to top it off Patricia Neri, the previous Director General of Copyright Policy, was removed from her position over what some call “personal reasons“… What others are calling having inappropriate personal relationships with a copyright lobbyist… And what I am calling having hot, sweaty sex with Doug Firth, who represented the American film industry in Canada. Couldn’t she have at least boinged someone representing the Canadian film industry?

So how can you steer through this valley of doom? …One word: Jewish People.

Israel was in a very similar situation to Canada, sharing a common copyright heritage. Both Canada and Israel’s copyright acts stem from UK Copyright Act of 1911. Like Canada, Israel was under pressure from copyright lobbyists to “modernize” its protections.

But the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), one such group attempting to pressure Israel, also charged Canada, Brazil, and South Korea with having granted inappropriate copyright exceptions to students and education institutions.

How did Israel respond to the pressure from the United States? Ha, just kidding. The United States doesn’t pressure Israel! The United States knows if it dreams about pressuring Israel it had better wake up and apologize. Israel, despite its antiquated patchwork of copyright laws, is a technological powerhouse producing more scientific papers, startup companies and new books than any other country (per capita). And some of it in Hebrew, which is crazy hard.

So how did Israel respond to pressure from copyright lobbyists?

True common law approach: Israel’s new act is rather slim. It contains 5546 words, compared to more than 35,000 in Canada’s.

Fair Use: Permitted for purposes such as: private study, research, criticism, review, journalistic report, quotation, or training and examination by an educational institution.

No Anticircumvention: Israel’s brand new copyright act contains no anticircumvention provisions. The Israeli government has taken the view that at the moment, anticircumvention legislation does not seem to be urgently necessary.

So Jim… you don’t mind if I call you Jim do you? So Mr. Prentice, I hope you get a general idea what some of my concerns were last weekend when I stopped by to talk about copyright reform, and it, well… there were a lot of people competing for your time that day.

But when you do get a chance to talk to artists and content creators (copyright lobbyists rarely represent content creators, only copyright owners), you’ll probably find this subject is one that offers exciting possibilities. True copyright reform will expand Canadians’ creative and academic freedoms, and give us a competitive edge over our DMCA encumbered neighbor.

*Got an opinion? Why not join the conversation on the blog?

  • Canadian DCMA: Protect Your Anus
  • by Gordon McDowell
  • Published on December 20th, 2007
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