Canadian Copyright Consultation Submissions Keep Rolling In

There’s no shortage of opinion on the copyright debate in the consultation. In fact, if you are able to keep up reading all of the submissions at this point, you’d probably deserve a medal. Fortunately, there are a few able to keep up with the mountains of suggestions, ideas and proposals and one, Michael Geist, was able to summarize many in a graph.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There’s probably more text in all of the submissions and comments than a medical students entire textbook collection by now. So understanding the consultation at this point could feel like a lifetime worth of study. To help put things in perspective, Michael Geist has posted a handy graph to show where Canadians are standing on the issue of copyright reform. The graph is very telling what a vast majority are saying.

One example is the number of submissions against anti-circumvention or in favour of limiting DRM/Digital locks so far totals 114. Another interesting sample off of the graph is the number of submissions in favour of stronger personal use/copying and backup protections right now is at exactly 100. Another interesting number was the submissions against another Bill C-61 which is currently at 90.

So how did the pro-copyright camp do so far? Well, the number of submissions in favour of stronger penalties for copyright infringement totals 1 so far. Another interesting number was the number of submissions in favour of turning copyright into a crime which also totalled 1. So really, Canadians, judging by the graph, are one or two submissions from being unanimous on saying that copyright is too strict and needs to be loosened.

The news probably is something that would keep copyright advocates awake at night at the very least. Canada, currently, is overwhelmingly rejecting the foreign copyright industry’s stance on the issue of copyright. It’s no surprise given few people feel that they should be locked out of the very content they legally pay for.

So what’s the new strategy likely going to be for the copyright industry? If history is any good indication, the industry would more than likely push a message of how unethical Canadians are – though not in those words, but the meaning would, at least, be very close. The message would probably have a mix of how Canada is viewed as a “backwards nation” on the issue of copyright even though people in other nations are already getting rightly upset over changes in their copyright laws that are in favour of the copyright industry.

In the UK, for instance, last month, the copyright industry argued that if ISPs don’t start censoring the internet for the copyright industry without court oversight, throttle their users, and disconnect them for alleged copyright infringement, then the industry would “cause widespread job losses” – standard chicken little argument really. Already in the UK, two administrators of BitTorrent sites so far (OiNK and Filesoup) have been arrested and thousands of warning letters in an “education campaign” has been sent out to unsuspecting internet subscribers – a number of them whom never even heard of file-sharing before. So really, if those kinds of measures were put in place to stop file-sharing and it’s failing, then clearly embracing file-sharing would be the better way to go. Restricting copyright laws in other countries has been, thus far, a total failure to stop file-sharing. The only thing stricter copyright laws have created so far is more people who see the laws as a joke and using file-sharing anyway. So why repeat the failings of other countries just because a foreign industry says so?

Some Canadians, at the very least, clearly gets this message. An overwhelming majority of Canadians realize that there are far better ways of dealing with copyright reform than what was seen in the Liberals Bill C-60 and the Conservatives Bill C-61. The government said that they have set up the consultation to listen to what people have to say and, so far, the best way forward according to the people of Canada is to loosen copyright laws and to push for new business models adapted to the digital age.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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