The Canadian DMCA: Evidence that we are a colony
It is with considerable disgust that we watch the Conservatives introduce the US entertainment industry’s wet dream of legislation to amend copyright laws in its favour. Without any evidence that the super-profits being reaped by Big Media have been adversely affected by file sharing. Without any consultation with Canadians. Without any demonstrable benefit to Canadians as consumers, artists or content creators.
In fact, a whole group of Canadian artists have objected to this legislation. And there is evidence commissioned by the government itself that file sharing is good (not bad) for artists (see this post).
Even in terms of international negotiations, this move is appalling. Through sheer bullying by the US government and Big Media, the Conservatives are giving away the store without even getting any concessions. Yet, when Canada seeks resolution of its trade irritants with the US we get to talk to the hand (politely, less we offend). Compare this to the lengthy negotiations over softwood lumber.
Some have taken to calling this the Canadian DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), as it mimics to a large degree the US version that allows Big Media to sue teenagers and students for “piracy”. The Conservatives have thus responded by giving it an Orwellian slogan, “Made-in-Canada Copyright Reform”.
Alas, it is not just the Conservatives, either; the Liberals tried the same thing before they were ousted from government. That one died due to the last federal election. Hopefully, this one will meet a similar fate. And in case you find this all very boring, check out the comic book version.
UPDATE (June 16): The Globe’s banner headline on this issue from June 13, Ottawa gets tough with illegal downloaders, is blatantly misleading. The intention of the Canadian DMCA is to make file sharing illegal, as in the US, but it is currently legal in Canada. What is illegal is recording something on your VCR and watching it later (known as “time shifting”), something the new act will legalize (subject to some conditions). It is annoying when a national newspaper frames the issue in such a way as to influence readers before they have had a chance to read the article, which contains some good rebuttals.