Friday, March 09, 2012

#C11 & Just Say No to Policy Bullying and the Imposition of Laws based on Policy-based Evidence Making

Beginning on Monday, March 12, 2012 we are going to see “clause by clause” alteration of Bill C-11. What Canadians will not see is what happens behind the scenes. The making of legislation has often been likened to the making of sausage:
"There are two things you don’t want to see being made—sausage and legislation." Attributed to Otto von Bismark (1815-1898
See here.

Prof. Dwayne Winseck has a must read blog on Bill C-11.

He says:
The biggest problem with all of this is not the underlying faulty economics and total absence of meaningful evidence, but rather the complete bankruptcy of the lawyers and lobbyists peddling the case. They appear to have no moral compass when it comes to these matters and would just as easily turn ISPs, search engines and social networking sites into online gatekeepers working on their behalf as they’d toss their grandmothers overboard if she hacked a digital lock

So - are we looking now at evidence-based policy making or policy-based evidence making?

The entertainment industries are doing very, very well and outperforming most other sectors in very difficult times - in spite of their hysterical and hyperbolic assertions that the sky is falling. 
In fact, the evidence is that the “Sky is Rising”.

Parliament should not forget how the late Jack Valenti, all time lobbyist supremo for the U.S. motion picture industry  solemnly told Congress in 1982 that:
I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.

Congress had the good sense in those days to ignore Hollywood on that issue - and the movie industry should be very glad that they did, because the VCR soon saved Hollywood, who could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and embarrassment by listening more to their customers and less to their lawyers. 

Oh, how history repeats itself.

So, let's hope that Parliament next week will:
  • just say no to TPMs that will stop Canadians from watching legitimately purchased regional  coded DVDs and BlueRay discs from India and elsewhere, to transfer format, to make backups, to time and place shift, to migrate from obsolete technology and interfere in countless other ways with their rights to use the expensive content and hardware that they have purchased
  • just say no to attempts to undo the Supreme Court of Canada's 2004  "Magna Carta" ruling in CCH v. LSUC in order to extract tens of millions a year from businesses, researchers, taxpayers, educators and students for non-existent rights to non-existent repertoire
  • just say no to attempts to circumscribe fair dealing that would put Canada at a huge competitive disadvantage to the USA in terms of education, research and innovation
  • just say no to the injection of the treaty based "three-step test" intended to accomplish the foregoing and undo CCH v. LSUC.
  • just say no to term extension that will create windfall profits for foreign corporations
  • just say no to an iPod tax or any other tax on technology
  • just say no to sneaking in a probably unconstitutional and definitely undesirable deemed digital rights grab from authors and an effectively coerced collective enforcement mechanism that could cost educational institutions, students and taxpayers tens of millions a year in the very short term (see proposed ss. 30.01(6) and (7)
  • just say no to overreaching SOPA-like intrusion laws that would allow the entertainment industry to shut down legitimate websites with insufficient due process
  • just say no to SOPA-like measures that would cripple the utility and accuracy of search engines
  • just say no to SOPA-like measures that would stop or “tax” many useful and harmless social networking activities (e.g. baby dancing to Prince)
  • just say no to draconian statutory minimum damages in Canada that could cost ordinary Canadians as much as a new car

Above all, Parliament should just say no to the imposition on Canadians of heavy-handed, untested, anti-technology, anti-innovation and anti-education policy-based evidence making through policy bullying on may obvious and not so obvious fronts by lawyers, lobbyists, trade associations, diplomats and politicians representing mostly non-Canadian interests.  

On a more positive note, the late Pierre Juneau was a genius in determining how to benefit Canadians in deft and non-partisan ways that required almost no taxpayer expenditures, other than a bit of regulatory oversight. CanCon and commercial substitution are tools that - though controversial in their day – have really worked well. Even their early critics are now very grateful for Juneau’s contributions to Canadian culture and the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.  This is the kind of history that should repeat itself.

If you wish to make your views known to Parliament, and the responsible Ministers, here’s a useful list of email addresses. Remember, form letters based on “templates” have very little effect. Write your own thoughts and make the three or so points that you most care about. And make them short but good.

Send your email to the responsible Ministers (the Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, James Moore) and the C-11 Committee members and Clerk of the Committee, at email addresses provided below:    


In fact, here's the above email list in a convenient "cut and paste" form that should work with most email clients for a one-step submission to all of the above:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


  1. The so-called digital rights grab (commented on at length by Ariel Katz) has its origins in the UK legislation. It wasn't a new concept when first introduced here in 1997 and, given its provenance, the constitutional argument seems doubtful. But to characterize it as a grab from authors does somehow imply that these authors would otherwise get more money, and that implications of course runs counter to the claim that CCH and expanded fair dealing mean that no-one should be paying licensing fees anyway.

  2. Dear Anon @2:2

    You really should put this interesting but but not completely comprehensible comment on Prof.Katz's blog.

    Even if you are right about the English provenance (a pinpoint reference to its enormous would have been nice), it would not be the first time that the UK has significantly worsened its own law. The late, great Sir Hugh Laddie was quite sad that England threw the 1911 act under a bus with with much worse legislation in 1988. See

    As for constitutional issues, last I checked England does not have a comparable constitution to Canada.