Music Industry Pushed for Internet Censorship in Canada

While the film and TV industry is pushing for Internet censorship through the CRTC, the music is pushing for the same in the copyright consultations.

It seems that the entertainment industry is taking a multi-pronged approach to pushing for Internet censorship in Canada. While a coalition of film and TV corporations are pushing for Internet censorship at the CRTC, it seems that the effort isn’t confined to the regulatory level. The music industry is pushing for similar at the federal level along with a whole lot of new taxes and levies to prop up the industry.

Among the key demands by the industry is the infamous iPod tax. The industry is calling on the government to put a tax on smart phones and tablets. From there, the money would go back to the industry.

Michael Geist points out that the music industry is enjoying one of the fastest rates of growth in the world. As such, Geist calls the demand off key. Geist also notes that the submission conveniently neglects to reveal the state of the industry. Arguably, honestly pointing that out would undermine the arguments for tighter copyright laws.

Another demand is that the industry wants to put in place an Internet censorship regime that allegedly targets file-sharing and stream-ripping sites. The call is similar to that of what Fairplay Canada is calling for at the CRTC. To date, there is no evidence that Internet censorship is effective nor is there any evidence that such a regime is warranted.

Strategically, this move makes sense from the industry’s perspective. Different subsets of the industry are pushing for Internet censorship and targeting the government in different ways. Should one falter, as is seemingly the case for FairPlay Canada, the other will prove to be more successful. In fact, it is a similar playbook to the copyright demands of various “trade” agreements occurring around the world at the moment such as what we see with TPP and CETA.

One thing to keep in mind is that the copyright consultation process is in early days, so a lot can happen between now and whenever the government opts to table any copyright reform legislation. Still, Canadians have a long history of pushing back against one-sided copyright laws.

In 2005, Canadians successfully fended off copyright reform laws which would have enabled mass litigation against alleged filesharers. Since then, there have been a number of successive copyright reform bills that pushed the music industry’s playbook of mass litigation of file-sharers. All of them failed until one Conservative government tabled a “compromise” bill. That compromise passed and enabled litigation of file-sharers, but capped the penalties. Since then, mass litigation hasn’t really happened in Canada on the scale seen in the US.

Other proposals pushed by the industry include the failed three strikes law and anti-circumvention laws similar to that of the US. Almost all of these ideas were resoundingly rejected by Canadians.

Now, here we are, 13 years later. The music industry is pushing for tough new copyright laws. This time, the flavour of the era is censoring the Internet. Backed by no evidence of its effectiveness nor any real need for such laws, the industry is pushing for some heavy-handed copyright laws. What will be interesting to see is if the same thing will happen and Canadians will push back against it. So far, history continues to repeat itself as many did turn out in droves to fight against censorship at the CRTC. It seems that we’ll likely see something similar at the government level soon.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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