Friday, May 28, 2010

here we go again

My last posting (see below, or click here) took exception with the sensationalist and fear-mongering aspects of the campaign against established creator rights under copyright. I linked to a video from the Vancouver Film School depicting copyright protection as a revolver aimed directly at consumers -- a.k.a. YOU... watch out!

And here we go again... the Canadian Federation of Students has released the following short bit of agitprop against professional creators. Sure professional creators were once students, like the freedom loving line drawings depicted against a soft green background as the film opens, but it seems once they graduate and go on to try and build their careers, they disappear into the evil rust-coloured background stained by the "major multi-national publishers, music labels and other corporations," who greedily suck up copyrighted works in order to, um, fill their buildings with greenness? I suppose that means something.

(embed code courtesy the CFS)

These rhetorical bombardments are beyond tiresome; and what's worse, they're intentionally deceptive, and designed to create what Google lawyer William Patry has labeled the "moral panics [of] the copyright wars." You will often find Patry's panics cited as an attack against "big content" -- those nasty corporations again and their lobbyists who are, apparently, "in Ottawa right now!" But when Patry spoke in Toronto some months back, I asked him if the panic-merchants in the copyright wars exist only on the corporate side, since I see an awful lot of inflammatory, end-of-days kind of stuff, like the CFS video, coming from the copyleft. "A pox on both their houses," was his unequivocal answer to me (freely quoting Shakespeare from the public domain).

Is it possible only "big content" learned anything about reasoned debate from Patry's book? I mean, he does work for Google, and if there's a bigger corporate interest in copyright right now than the all-knowing, all-seeing Goog, I don't know what it is.

I make special note of this video mainly because it is so very disappointing to me. I have sat in meetings with representatives of the CFS, and discussed the subtlety and intricacies of copyright reform. I see on their website a much more subtle and reasonable argument for the student perspective in the debates. While I can often agree to disagree with some of the specifics of the student position, I value their voice in the reform process. This video is a lot of things, but subtle and valuable to the reform process are not two of those things.

What's wrong with the video? A distinct lack of factual truth, to begin with. Did corporate interests really help create Bill C-61? I thought the duly elected Canadian government created C-61, like it creates all federal legislation. Did students and 90,000 other mobilized Canadians really help "defeat" Bill C-61 before it even came to a vote? I thought Bill C-61 died on the order paper because of an election call. Just what kind of history are members of the CFS learning in Canadian universities, and who is teaching it to them?

You know, I was a student myself once, for a rather long time. I was a student when I first sold some of my writing, and when I first published other writers' writing. I knew the value of copyright to creators then, and nothing about my career since has convinced me that weakening my copyrights would be a particularly smart thing to do. It's a funny thing about students -- eventually, they graduate and have to make their way out into the real economy. Often, recently-graduated creators find themselves having to negotiate career-affecting agreements having to do with copyright -- and just as often those agreements are with multi-national publishers, etc., etc.

I'm sure in a few years time, after graduation, this video from the CFS and those who inspired it will be effusively thanked by an entire generation of creators for schooling them in the realities of a creative profession outside the ivory tower.

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James Gannon said...

Great post, John. I remember that question at the Patry talk and thought that he did handle it quite well. We have indeed seen a strange degree of panic lately from people who have yet to see any kind of bill on the subject. I also find it strange that the CFS lobby group (they put copyright under the "lobbying" section of their website) would somehow speak to all Canadian students - I'm sure if you were to ask Canadian students their views on this issue, hopefully after some actual proposed laws are released, their views would be as wide and diverse as the rest of Canadians (as evidenced in last summer's copyright consultation).

Russell McOrmond said...

Yawn. Yes, you operate under different facts than the pro-creator folks I work with seem to. C-60 and C-61 were largely based on the anti-creator 1996 WIPO treaties, itself originating with the USA's NII, itself authored by narrow copyright holding intermediary interests. This is all well documented for those who care or bother to read.

Where you see scare tactics, I see public education. And we disagree on who all needs to be better informed.

John said...

James -- yes, I noticed the dreaded L-word (lobbying) on the CFS website, despite their bandwagon use of the pejorative "lobbyist."

As Bart Simpson says, the ironing is delicious.

Russell, you and I will continue to disagree here and there on how professional creators should protect their rights, mostly I think because we are talking about different creators. But that shouldn't stop us from agreeing that public education should be fact-based. The "for more information" sources cited at the end of the video are all post-secondary education centered -- one of them is a Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law -- and yet the legislative history presented in the video is incorrect. It's not politically or ideologically skewed; it's just wrong. Yikes -- this does not say great things about either the CFS or their sources.

I'm getting used to the scare tactics, but the embarrassment I feel for the CFS right now is new and disturbing.

Russell McOrmond said...

Scare tactics: You mean, like the ones that a group of "creator" organisations sent out about the alleged harm from expanding fair dealings? Most of the expansions of fair dealings I've been made aware of, with the exception of the institutional exceptions (especially education), I would put on the pro-creator side of the debate.

I have seen far more scare tactics from groups claiming to represent "creators" that I have from anyone else interested in this area of policy.

Factually incorrect lobbying: you mean, like the bogus statistics used by the organisations from the publishing, proprietary software, motion picture, and recording industry who together form the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)? This is the umbrella group that has the most influence on the bill we'll see on Tuesday, whether you are aware of that or not.

It isn't that we are talking about different creators, or differences on how to "protect" our copyright related rights, but whether specific policies will harm or help our copyright related rights. I'm not speaking as a software author unconcerned about authors, composers, performers, etc -- but as a software author who has specific technical knowledge (necessary for understanding "technical measures"), who mixes that with my experience as an audience of copyrighted works, and want policies that help authors, composers, etc get paid.

When thinking about how copyright applies to music, movies or books I think: what policies would make me more or less likely to buy/pay.

Take music as an example: I only purchase unlocked music, so if the music is locked then I won't pay for it. Pretty simple, and easy as most music beyond the major labels (IE: the labels part of IIPA) are available for me to pay for. This represents a dip in revenue for the IIPA, even though I buy more music today than I did in the latter part of the 1990's and the early part of the 2000's.

For DVD's I've given up on copyright holders being reasonable or wanting my money. I purchase DVDs and circumvent the DRM in order to time, device and/or format shift. I've spent about $300 in the last few years on DVDs, once I gave up on respecting current or proposed copyright. How much would I pay if I honoured the DRM and/or the lack of fair dealings for time/device/format shifting? $0. That is money that I would not have spent on content, but would have spent elsewhere.

You, and many others in this debate, seem to operate on the assumption that if there are more activities which require permission and/or payment that more money will flow into the pockets of creators. My personal experience, and from talking to many people over the years about this issue, is that the exact opposite is true.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, John. An embarrassingly misleading video, indeed. Among the many gems: Bill C-61 mandated $20,000 fines for 'sharing' copyright protected works? I must of missed that. Seems facts are incidental in the so-called 'fight for fair copyright' against the dreaded "multinationals" aka "The Man". Oh well. Warren Sheffer

Pieter Hulshoff said...

Although I'm not too impressed with the video, I do feel you're misrepresenting the issues people have with Bill-61.

Let's start by what it is not: Bill-61 is NOT a bill that brings offline copyright to the online world. The copyright act is written flexible enough that it covers infringement both online and offline. The opposition is NOT about people wanting their movies and music for free, but about freedom to innovate, and freedom to use your purchases within the boundary of copyright law.

When I purchase a movie or song, I expect to be able to play it on the device of my choice in the country of my choice, and if needed convert it to a format used by that device. I expect to be free to develop my own hardware/software for that purpose, and freely share that knowledge with others. Bill-61's provision on circumvention of technical protection measures prevent this. Similar provisions have rarely if ever been used to combat copyright infringement, but do prevent many uses that would otherwise be legal under copyright law.

When I pay my tv license fees, I expect to be able to record the shows so I can watch them later on any device of my choice, without having to worry about how much later that is or whether recording was "permitted" via a broadcast flag. I expect to be able to convert it to any format the device of my choice requires. The limitations on fair dealings in Bill-61 prevent this.

While operating within the law, I expect to be able to protect my privacy. I expect to be able to develop hardware/software to aid me in doing so, and to freely share such technology with others. Bill-61's provisions on the distribution of privacy software prevent this.

As for the $20,000: Bill-61 introduces statutory damages for copyright infringement, which in some cases (due to text in other bills) could run up to $20,000 per infringement (this bill "only" mentions $500 per infringement).

With regards to "evil corporations"; it is a well known fact that large entities like the RIAA/MPAA have often tried (and sometimes succeeded) in sneaking in provisions in laws and contracts to automatically assign copyright to the production companies rather than the artists. If you want, I can send you plenty of examples that had artists up in arms. Contrary to what you may think, most of us actually care about creators, and would gladly support laws to strengthen your position vs that of production companies.

John said...


Once again, try to separate your political position from your ability to see the video critically. I know what you think about the IIPA and their stats, but none of that excuses students or their well-paid mentors misreporting legislative history to scare up support for their premature protest.

The examples you give about your own purchasing choices are interesting, but I hope you are not asking me to believe they represent the habits of the typical consumer. I think the typical consumer has become quite used to format limitations on their technology, and the real question for them is "Is the price I'm asked to pay low enough for me to accept the given limitations?"

I don't expect my twenty year old Sony tv to suddenly play HD baseball games for me. I accept the limitations because I don't feel like spending thousands on a new TV.

Besides, if I want HD baseball, I will go to the Rogers Center this Friday to watch the Jays stomp all over the Yankees... Warren, are you still there? Yankees? Friday? First beer's on me?

And Peter, I'm not at all sure where or how you developed your consumer expectations. I have NEVER expected to do all those things with the creative content I purchase. Back in the dark ages when I bought all my books in tiny paperback format, I certainly didn't expect to get a hardcover later for free because I'd already bought the book.

Your comment has elements in it of a classic IP misunderstanding. When you buy a song, you are NOT buying the song. Consumers really need to understand this distinction, and it would help if those charged with teaching them about copyright would get on the stick with this one. You are buying a COPY of a the song, and you need to be aware of the limitations attached to that copy before you buy it (e.g. the paperbacks I bought ages ago now smell a bit moldy... oh well).

Be an informed consumer. Don't buy crap and then say "we need to chnage the law so that this crap I bought can be less crappy." Just don't buy the crap if you don't want it. Russell suggests he might do that, but then he doesn't actually do it.

If all consumers put their feet down and demanded more, media and content companies would have no choice but to increase the value-add on the copies they sold. Instead, we get this weird faux-revolution designed to do little else than remove rights from artists in the name of consumer freedom.

Russell McOrmond said...


It is amazing how backwards you have the issue.

Don't make good content into crap, and then go crying to the government falsely claiming that the reason people aren't buying is because of copyright infringement.

The "just don't buy it" would only work if the political climate allowed bad businesses to fail. You know well that copyright holders whine to to government whenever their own bad business decisions cause minor dips in revenue. The politicians, as uninformed about technology and business as many of those copyright holders, then make the problem worse and make it harder for people who want to pay for content to do so.

I find it interesting that you are publicly discouraging me from paying for content. I wish you were more honest when you were more actively involved and speaking to politicians and said that you would prefer to not get paid.

You are correct. My copyright related habits aren't the same as others. Other people don't spend the time to learn what Copyright does or does not allow, or try to figure out ways to send my money to the creators responsible for what I enjoy. Others just access content in whatever manner they can. Many don't differentiate between watching television or downloading unauthorised content from bit-torrent sites.

The more nonsensical Copyright becomes, the less people will respect it. The Copyright holders who caused the problem in the first place, and caused revenues to go down, will yet again go crying to the government for a bail-out. And the bail-out never happens, because the more unbalanced copyright becomes, the less money creators will have.

"I don't expect my twenty year old Sony tv to suddenly play HD baseball games for me."

Bad analogy, as you are trying to compare physical limits to arbitrary policy decisions.

These are also not policy decisions disclosed at "purchase". We live in a world where people can't figure out something as simple as the private copying regime (a compulsory license), and yet they are expected to understand a "purchase" that has in the fine print (written in a language they don't understand) policy which is different than any other type of "purchase"?

Russell McOrmond said...

John actually said,

"but I hope you are not asking me to believe they represent the habits of the typical consumer."

"And Peter, I'm not at all sure where or how you developed your consumer expectations."

Thanks for the laughs this morning, John. You probably don't even see the conflicts in your own message.

I think out of any of us here, John needs to get out of his ivory tower and chat with some regular folks to find out what paying customers of copyrighted content expect.

John said...


Reframe it however you want -- I doubt anyone actually believes creators and content producers have not suffered from massive copyright infringement in the digital age.

Neither you nor Peter are anything like the typical consumers I regularly talk to. Everyone with whom I discuss illegal downloading and infringement says some version of, "I know it's wrong, technically, but I can do it, and if the choice is between paying for the thing and getting it for free, I'll take free. I'm just one person, and the corporations make so much money anyway."

There is nothing mysterious about informed consumer choice.
Stop blaming fine print for everything. Copyright notices are very easy to spot.

Expecting one purchased copy to work perpetually and be transferable on all subsequent media is an entirely new and, in my opinion, unrealistic consumer demand -- at least at current prices. It ignores completely the very real costs of creating content.

Eo Nomine said...

"As Bart Simpson says, the ironing is delicious."

Very true. In fact, the ironing seems to go even deeper...

While watching the video this weekend, I noticed this at the end of the CFS's posting on YouTube:

"Video credit: Ryan Junell,"

Figuring that Ryan Junell might be a design student, I popped onto his website to see his portfolio... and quickly discovered that Ryan is a professional animator and directors whose clients include the Cartoon Network, Sega and Electronic Arts. And he's BASED IN SAN FRANCISCO.

So, the Canadian Federation of Students hired a professional Amercian animator to advocate on fair copyright for Canadian students?

John said...

And it takes a particularly stubborm ideology to hear someone say "Please stop taking the stuff I'm trying to sell," and interpret it as "this dude clearly doesn't want to be paid."

Pieter Hulshoff said...


It's interesting to see you claim I do not represent the average customer, yet clearly did not read the 2nd paragraph of my post. What you claim should be illegal, and what you claim people give excuses about already is illegal, and has nothing to do with Bill-61 that everyone's up in arms about. Bill-61 is exactly about the topics I highlighted.

No, I don't expect my old tv to be able to display HD content, but I also don't expect to buy a blu-ray disk, and find out it does not play on my blu-ray player, because they decided to disable some decryption keys (which of course is not mentioned anywhere). I also don't expect to have to buy the movie in every different format that I want to see it in (one for my blu-ray player, one for my PSP, etc.).

As far as I know, when I purchase a cd it is mine to do with as I please within the realm of copyright law. I can listen to it, transfer it to my mp3 player, sell it, or even use it as a coaster if I so please. I didn't sign anything limiting my rights when I bought the thing.

If you want to LICENSE me a song, that's fine if you price the thing accordingly. That does however mean that when I lose the physical object it came on I expect a replacement at cost price, as is common when you license products (like with some software). Don't try to sell me a license, and then treat it as a sale when I scratch the disk nor sell me a song, and treat it as a license when I want to copy it to my mp3 player.

Darryl said...

Ed Nomine said:

"So, the Canadian Federation of Students hired a professional American animator to advocate on fair copyright for Canadian students?"

Sorry Ed, I'm afraid you may need to explain the irony here. The CFS never said anything about being against professional creators. They were complaining about Big Media using their excessive influence to push copyright further away from being a "fair" balance.

The true irony is that you and John, and so many others who support these new rules because you think it protects creators, don't even realize you are making it worse for creators.

I know John would put me in that category of people who download content because I "don't want to pay for it". The truth is I pay as much now for content as I ever did. I am much more careful where my money goes, and I am simply further along the road of disrespecting copyright that Russell has started to journey down by illegal ripping DVDs.

Arbitrary rules about what I can or cannot do with what I purchase, locks on devices and content that cause endless frustration as well as denying me access to my property have cause me to give up. (As Russell has with DVDs). Give me a fair copyright law that is worthy of respect and I will gladly respect it. And encourage others to do the same. What we have now and what is proposed only merits contempt.

Russell McOrmond said...

"doubt anyone actually believes creators and content producers have not suffered from massive copyright infringement in the digital age."

I am one of those people who doesn't believe that. To believe this requires one to believe that every infringement is a substitute for a sale, something I consider nonsense. It also requires me to believe that infringement is somehow the largest change that has happened to the marketplace for creative content in the last few decades, something that is even less realistic to believe.

Like other forms of trespass, copyright infringement may upset the rights-holder, but it doesn't necessarily translate into economic harm.

"Stop blaming fine print for everything. Copyright notices are very easy to spot."

I know you live in the old world of paper books where what you say is closer to the truth, but the majority of this debate exists in the world of technical measures written in software. I doubt you know how to read JavaScript, leave alone the harder to read assembly language that much of this policy has been compiled into.

John, you didn't say "Please stop taking the stuff I'm trying to sell," and have me interpret it as "this dude clearly doesn't want to be paid."

Anti-interoperability locks on content and non-owner locks on devices have nothing to do with the phrase "stop taking the stuff I'm trying to sell".

You said "Be an informed consumer. ...Just don't buy the crap if you don't want it. Russell suggests he might do that, but then he doesn't actually do it."

What makes this stuff less worthy to be bought is deliberate business decisions, based on invalid science-fiction ideas about how technology works.

So you were saying that if I don't like the way you are technologically encoding the content, then you don't want me to buy it. It is quite valid for me to interpret this as you not wanting to get paid.

If you send me a DOC file, I will load it into and then save it as an ODF file. Converting files between different file formats is quite natural for computers to do, and it isn't reasonable for me to say "Well, if I'm not a Microsoft Office user then I won't read a document I am able to convert from that format just because the author chose that file format".

You then claim that it is copyright infringement, not these bad business decisions, that are responsible for any alleged losses. You have no credible evidence of this. You get upset at me for asking for this evidence since I do not blindly believe what you suggest is true.

John said...


You say "If you want to LICENSE me a song, that's fine if you price the thing accordingly.

And I would respond -- that is exactly what I'm talking about. The price for music is better than right as far as I can tell -- who can complain about 99 cents a song? If you want pereptual rights within the license you are purchasing for that song, you'd better be prepared to pay much, much more, because you are talking about a very real loss of value (whether Russell chooses to see that value-loss or not).

You really do need to understand that you are buying a copy, not the thing itself. I'm not sure why that is so hard for the copyleft to grasp, but it has never not been true about creative content since the stuff formally entered the economy. I'm sorry your Blu-Ray doesn't work on your iPhone or whatever, but don't ask me to extend my sympathy for your consumerist frustration to the weakening of artist rights. That's simply not fair.

Consumers have responsibilities as well as "rights." If you can't play by the rules, don't play.

Russell, if the world of software is so dman different from the cultural world I work in, then go and get your own copyright law to cover it. That won't bother me at all. But please, leave my copyright law alone.

Darryl, seriously, when you do anything that has anything to do with professional creativity as it happens in my world, I may have a bit of patience for your lecture on what helps creators. Until then, good luck rallying professional creators behind your flag.

Russell McOrmond said...

"But please, leave my copyright law alone."

Easy, given little of what we have been talking about in the last 15 years will affect book authors at all.

It is groups like PWAC, TWUC, Access Copyright and others meddling with the rights of software authors and technology owners which is the basis of the disagreements we've had over the years.

So, it is you that needs to stop meddling in *my* copyright!

P.S. I'm not willing to pay $99/song. It is one of the many reasons I'm a customer of eMusic, which charges much less per song and thus I spend more money on music than I otherwise would.

Pieter Hulshoff said...


I don't recall asking to weaken your artist rights, but please explain to me how it weakens your artist's rights if I can enjoy the "copy" of the song/movie I bought on the machines that I own, protect my disks from the damages of usage by using a copy rather than the "copy" I bought or enjoy it in the country I live in rather than the country I bought it in. You said I don't represent the average customer, but consumers have shifted format since they taped their records (now cds to mp3), and recorded/time shifted from the tv since the introduction of the VHS. They have certain expectations when they buy entertainment, and unskippable advertisement on the dvd they bought or having to rebuy their entire e-book collection when they switch reader are not among them.

Yes, I do use the word "copy". You call me a copy-leftist for thinking I buy a song that I can use within the limits of copyright rather than a "copy". I think that if you try to explain to your customers that they only buy a "copy" with very limited rights that may not be usable in a few years, you won't have any customers left. That's your choice of course, but IMHO not a wise one. Aside from the whole copyright debate, you do have to compete with other forms of entertainment as well, and music is already losing the battle against film and games. Reducing the value of what you sell is usually not a good idea at such a time. Also: if you want to LICENSE me a song, do make sure you make me aware of the license that goes with it before I buy it; otherwise you won't have a legal or moral leg to stand on.

Yes, I disagree that consumers have responsibilities. They are your customers, and have rights within the law, and limits of those rights within the law. Beyond that, they owe you nothing, not even loyalty. You want respect from your customers? Earn it! Normal rules of economics apply to everyone, including creators. As a democratic audience, we recognize the value of granting you certain rights so you can protect your works to the benefit of us all, but beyond that you have to work for your money, loyalty, and respect like everyone else in this world. Treating your customers badly, and reducing the value of your products via TPM/DRM because others infringe on your copyright, is unlikely to improve your income or your respect.

Btw, I do appreciate that you spell my name correctly; others seem to have trouble doing that. :)

Pieter Hulshoff said...

I do agree with Russell on one important thing: we're not the one's meddling with "your" copyright. Copyright is supposed to balance the interests of creators, producers and society, and it is mostly organizations like the RIAA/MPAA who over the cause of the past decades successfully lobbied to strengthen their position to the detriment of creators and society. Bill-61 is yet another attempt to tip the balance to the producer's side, and we as society have had enough. I gladly respect your rights (I do not condone copyright infringement), but I would appreciate it if you respected mine as well.

As DMc wisely mentioned in one of his blogs: "See, that's negotiation. You give something up, you get something.". I see a lot of taking by the RIAA/MPAA, but very little giving up. They are the ones who have destroyed the respect people have/had for copyright law, and you see the backlash by extremists on the other side who call for the abolishment of copyright. We, as reasonable citizens and creators, are caught in the middle, but the more you push to reduce our rights, the less respect you will get for yours.

Russell McOrmond said...

In addition to the questions Pieter Hulshoff, I want to add the one I've been using for years.

At what time in history did book authors have a legally protected right to impose the brand of eyeglasses I wore while reading a book?

This is clearly a recent concept, granting copyright holders the brand-new right of being able to choose what brands of technology are "authorised" to be used to access copyrighted works.

I won't accept being reprimanded for actually paying copyright holders, simply because I format shift in order to bypass a technology brand restriction which I will never accept as being legitimate.

John said...


So, I have a CD right here on my desk, and I turn it over and read:

"Copyright 2002 Shelter Valley Productions. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction, copying and rental of this recording in any form is strictly prohibited by law."

I'm really not sure what else you need from the owner of the songs on that CD to understand that you have just bought a copy and not the songs themselves. The terms of the licence you are buying are quite explicit. No unauthorized copying.

Taping is authorized by the private copying levy, which I believe songwriters would love to update, over the continued objections of both the copyleft and larger recording companies. See how artists get stuck in the middle when folks don't respect the subtlety of the law?

Russell, if your eyeglasses were sold to you with the copy of the book, as so much technology and content is now joined together, then I think you'd have to respect the choice of eyeglasses. Otherwise, why buy them? But if your eyeglasses suddenly can't read a certain book because they were not made to (I tire of this analogy even as I write it), it seems kind of silly to blame the author of the book and reduce her income as punishment. Why not just demand a copy of the book that comes made for all eyeglasses. If the eyeglass and book folks are going to fail because their product is unappealing, let them fail -- but don't take away the author's rights.

I'll say again -- if you want extra rights past what has traditionally been agreed upon between consumer and copyright holder (as explicitly outline in copyright notices worldwide), you will have to pay for them. That's a negotiation process, and negotiation works best when everyone is at the table in good faith. Not when one side sits at the table while the other side loads up on their property.

Pieter Hulshoff said...


Please don't put us in the same category of those who infringe of your copyright, and we won't put you in the same category as the RIAA/MPAA who would gladly turn the internet into a cable-like media distribution network, and computers into their personal copyright police boxes. Like you, we are caught somewhere in the middle of this discussion. Extremists on both sides should have been kicked from the discussion table a long time ago.

You cannot enter into a license with a customer by printing it onto the back of a cd. If you want a license, you will need to get me to sign a contract upon purchase of the goods, something like what iTunes has before you purchase a song. Until that time, I have the legal and moral right to treat the cd as my property, and use it freely within the boundaries of copyright law.

Personally I'm in favor of home copy legalization. In the Netherlands we have a similar system as in Canada, with a levy on empty carriers (tapes, cds, dvds, etc.). I would prefer it to be integrated into the general tax system, like they did for tv rights in this country (we used to have an annual levy on tv ownership; it's now integrated into the tax system independent of the amount of tvs you own). Dutch politicians are currently debating whether they'd like to remove the home copy law (and the levies) like the entertainment industry and part of the public wants, to extend the levies to other carriers (mp3 players, PVR, etc.) like the collection agencies want or to institute a general tax like some artists and part of the public wants. The copylefts, as you call them, don't have a common perspective on this. Some would like the levies to disappear while others would prefer the home copy legislation to stay.

About the negotiation process around Bill-61: we're not the ones asking for more rights. The RIAA/MPAA lobby is attempting to take more rights which infringe on our rights as software developers and customers. We're just not willing to let them.

With regards to the glasses: sorry, but I simply disagree with you there. Copyright does NOT give you the right to determine which devices I am allowed to use to play the media I bought. You are granted a limited monopoly on your works, but if you don't respect the limits of your granted rights, then please don't expect others to respect your granted rights. That is, as you so eloquently put it it, the subtlety of copyright law we all need to respect.

Darryl said...

"Russell, if your eyeglasses were sold to you with the copy of the book, as so much technology and content is now joined together, then I think you'd have to respect the choice of eyeglasses. "

Why? Lots of things get sold together. Nothing in the physical world actually has requirements that they stay together. Giving the ability for IP rights holders to dictate, through licensing, every minute facet of the use of what they create is unreasonable. It is far more power than the producers of any other product have.

If they want these powers, then they should explicitly negotiate them with their customers on a more individual basis. Giving this sort of power to IP rights holders by default though copyright is wrong.

These are new rights over use of works that copyright holders are demanding. These are not demands merely to protect existing right, though they dress it up as such because a local copy is always required to use the works.

Russell McOrmond said...

"Russell, if your eyeglasses were sold to you with the copy of the book, as so much technology and content is now joined together, then I think you'd have to respect the choice of eyeglasses."

You would be wrong. If you want your privileges to be respected, they have to be respectable.

I don't subscribe to this far-right-of-the-Fraser-Institute political philosophy when it comes to some alleged "right" of manufactures and/or retailers of consumer products or services to tie the purchase of one product/service to the purchase of another. I actually subscribe to the moderate pro-free market capitalist view expressed in section 77 of the Canadian Competition Act under "Exclusive Dealing, Tied Selling and Market Restriction".

The competition bureau is currently tunnel-vision focused on short-term price issues, but I believe that is temporary. I fully expect that as the marketplace becomes more and more damaged by the collusion between the larger copyright holders and monopolist technology companies that the bureau will wake up.

In the interim, why would you expect us to simply lie down and let the pocketbooks of the vast majority of people in the content and technology industry be so greatly harmed? I for one want to protect the moral and material interests of authors and other creators -- especially from threats far greater than copyright infringement.

I really see you as one of those people rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. You may have honourable goals, but IMHO dangerously wrong priorities.

Russell McOrmond said...

Darryl said, "These are not demands merely to protect existing right, though they dress it up as such because a local copy is always required to use the works."

Technically, eyeglasses manipulated the image of what was on the piece of paper before it hit the readers eyes. Some extremists might claim that this is a derived work, but fortunately copyright holders never even attempted to claim in any court this manipulation was covered by copyright.

Format shifting digital content should be seen as the same. The fact that digital "copies" are being made should be seen as irrelevant. The technologies (digital, analog, or anything else) used by readers/audiences in order to access content which they legally acquired must remain the choice of that reader. Copyright holders should never have standing in such a conversation.

Then again, I said the same thing in 2002, and will never respect any alleged right that says differently (no matter what the law says).

"Any 'hardware assist' for communications, whether it be eye-glasses, VCR's, or personal computers, must be under the control of the citizen and not a third party.

- Me, 2002

Corollary: The "content industries", such as the motion picture and recording industries, are not legitimate stakeholders in the discussion of what features should or should not exist in my personal computer or VCR, any more than they are a legitimate stakeholder in the production of my corrective eye-glasses. If a member of a content industry doesn't like the technology that exists in a given market sector, be it consumer electronics in the home or personal computers, they can simply not offer their products/services into that market."

John said...

Well, I hope you guys aren't holding your breath expecting me to continue to try and convince you, of anything. I've talked enough with Russell and Darryl to know how tightly locked their opinions are on this, and Pieter, you really seem to be reading the same websites as these other two.

I certainly do not share any of your unassailable consumerism. I think you get exactly what you pay for, and the best practice is to buy what you want; not something sort of like what you want... and then insist that it really should be the thing you want.

I will just continue to rearrange my deck chairs, and insist on my rights as an artist, and we can all wait and see what's coming in the new bill. Russell, in your analogy, who is the iceberg? And who gets Kate Winslet in the end? If it's me, you can keep copyright law.

Pieter, I am taking a Clementian "wait and see, and let's discuss things" approach to the new bill, btw. You seem to think we're still debating C-61. That bill is dead and gone. I will examine the new bill to make sure it protects artists from unrealistic and unfair consumerist demands, lays out a legal framework to discourage piracy, and encourages a vibrant and healthy professional content industry. If others think there are missteps along the road to those things, I'm happy to re-examine parts of the bill, and it sounds like those writing it will be too.

Russell, I think you have a steep hill to cliimb to convince legislators, artists and the general public that digital access to professional content is as benign as eyeglasses. Good luck with that.

Pieter Hulshoff said...


I don't need other people's websites to formulate my opinions. I've been talking to politicians and industry executives about balanced copyright for about 10 years now, both nationally and internationally. If you can't even convince people with moderate views like us from your point of view, you're going to have an interesting time in the upcoming bill discussions convincing the rest of the population. As said: the extremist views of the RIAA/MPAA have managed to get people quite angry, and even managed to get one issue parties like the Pirate Party seats in the European Parliament. 10 years ago, such a thing was unthinkable, and frankly: it does not please me.

Yes, I do argue from the position it's C-61 reborn that will soon be presented, since all available information points towards that. It's also the position of the video you linked to (a copyright violation if you believe our national entertainment industry enforcement agency BREIN), so I thought that was a reasonable point to argue from. If you have any source that indicates otherwise, I would love to hear about it.

I understand quite well what you'd like the law to say, but that's not what it currently says. Consumers do have rights, and your copyrights are not as limitless as you think them to be, and lobbying for them to become such at the detriment of our rights is unlikely to bring you any fans and paying customers. As said before: if you have so little respect for our rights, why do you expect others to respect yours?

Having said that: I will continue to lobby for balanced copyright (yes, I have no problem with the L word). I think artists need to be protected, both from producers and from the public who take their work without paying for it. I also believe the public needs to be protected from artists who want to limit what their customers can do with their legally purchased content beyond those limits that copyright provides.

Btw, if I promise not to buy your book if it comes with unacceptable terms, and not download it either, do you promise to be honest towards politicians that it was your own business decision that reduced your income?

Russell McOrmond said...

We don't have to promise not to buy his book. If John brought the extreme views he has about digital copyright to his analog book world, he would realise that his book is nothing but "piracy" of expression and concepts he must believe should be the exclusive property of the sports industry.

His unreasonable ideas on what should happen in software (with software being what the majority of the actual copyright discussion has been about in the last decade and a half), when applied to his area of creativity, would make his book illegal. Building new narratives on the backs of the inventors of sport, pirating as he does without any shame or apology.

Oh, well :-)

John's creativity, like mine, is only possible if we limit the control of past creators.

Ryan Junell said...

hi yes I'm an american animator married to a canadian. I spent most of last summer in ottawa. I've worked extensively with creative commons since their beginning, in fact I designed their logo. that's how the CFS found me.

I'm very familiar with the fight for fair copyright. I worked at the student union at the university of texas for two years (94-96) then interned as a student in washington d.c. for then-governor George Bush's office. I represented the office when the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) visited capitol hill to describe the impacts of the U.S. DMCA on technology and society.

I feel its quite appropriate to work on behalf of the CFS on this issue. I believe copyright is an AMAZING and INTERNATIONAL issue with many valid arguments on both sides. We addressed the importance of sensible copyright in the first 30 seconds of the video.

Does that make sense, Eo Nomine?

Sandy Crawley said...

These copyleft comments seem to be from technology trimumphalists. They are really a bore, but I'm grateful that John has the patience to address their inconsistencies. The point about the historical inaccuracy in the video is well taken, but these geks are still fighting a dead bill anyway.

Pieter Hulshoff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pieter Hulshoff said...

It's probably the first time in quite some time that I actually removed one of my comments from a forum. Not because I think I was wrong, but because I felt the tone was unacceptable. I pride myself on being able to discuss these matters in a proper and friendly way, no matter how much I may disagree with the other person's point of view. I somtimes wish others would extend me the same courtesy.

I'm sorry Sandy, but if you think our views are strange and inconsistent (?!?), you haven't been paying attention to the news over the past two years.

Russell McOrmond said...


I think the phrase you were looking for is "technology literate", not "technology trimumphalists". I don't think I've met anyone with a working knowledge of cryptography that wasn't either:

a) strongly opposed to legal protection of DRM.

b) working for a technology company offering DRM products/services, laughing every time a copyright holder expressed support.

John said...

Sorry guys, I was busy all day helping actual, working, professional artists make their living in the actual, real, non-theoretical economy. Wish I had all day to comment on blogs, but we working creators are busy folk.

Russell, you make me very nervous. If YOU don't get the difference between idea and expression, then there really is no hope the copyleft will ever understand what it is they claim to respect (while disrespecting it in practice).

No-one owns history -- sports or otherwise. No-one owns concepts or ideas. My book contains these things, but they are not protected by the copyright on my book. Only the expression, or text, of my book is protected. This is basic, chapter-one copyright stuff. Do I really have to explain that to you?

What this discussion absolutely does NOT need is another pedantic lecture from the copyleft about how all creation depends on "copying" from the past. Please, no semantic shell games -- leave that to Boing Boing. Reference, allusion, quotation... these are different in substance from the copying that is protected by copyright. Authors regularly acknowledge their sources and inspirations -- it's called real, actual, non-theoretical respect for past creators. Y'all should try it sometime.

Pieter, I'm a Canadian novelist. Believe me, I've come to terms with the idea that many, many, many people are going to choose NOT to buy my book. Pretending actual, real, non-theoretical, piracy is about matters of consumer convenience and choice is simply dishonest. As I said in an earlier post -- you don't like DRM on content, address the problem it (and legal protection for it) are attempting to address.

Let the cryptographers gather at their cryptography clubs and laugh all they want. I've said all along, I don't intend any restriction on my work to be an impenetrable lock. I don't NEED an impenetrable lock. I need a "No Trespassing" sign, and one of those tricky little crime scene seals on the door, so when a pirate enters he can be detected and prosecuted. I even think the cryptographers could make themselves really useful and cooperate with the law to make that seal so subtle and malleable that it doesn't remove anyone's fair dealing privileges.

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us.


Pieter Hulshoff said...


No need to apologize; we are all busy people. I'm just in the fortunate circumstance that a lot of my work takes place behind the computer, so I can easily check your website from time to time.

No need to worry about Russel; I think he was trying to tell you that if you were to apply the same logic to your own works that you apply to users rights, then your own work should be seen as infringing. I'll let him explain it to you fully though. :)

I'm quite in favor of addressing the copyright infringement problem, but not with laws that do not function, and infringe on my own rights as a software developer and musician. I acknowledge that some creators have a problem in today's world, but that does not mean that I accept them making it my problem, while not addressing their problem in the least.

I understand what you would like DRM to be capable of, but as Russell and I have told you before: that is by definition not technically possible, and as such it will never become possible either. You say you want a "no tresspassing" sign, but you seem to forget one thing: the only ones who get to see that sign are the loyal customers who actually buy your works. The ones who don't, are the ones who get a copy without the DRM sign from friends, the internet, etc. As such, the only thing you can achieve with DRM is devalue your works, and piss off your loyal customers; usually not a sound business decision.

Please, do yourself a favor, and read Doctorow's presentation on DRM: (not 100% sure this blog allows links; if not, just copy and paste the address). I'm a dreamer myself, and I would love to dream with you, but I prefer to dream about things that are actually achievable some day.

If you can understand that DRM cannot solve your problem, then please understand why DRM is a problem to us:
As a customer, it blocks me from using my purchases freely within the boundaries of copyright law.
As a software developer, laws protecting DRM prevent me from writing software that interacts with DRM protected works.
That is why we're fighting these laws: because it does not solve the problems you perceive, but it does create a problem for society.

Russell McOrmond said...

Yes, I understand the contours of current copyright law. I was offering John a change in those contours on the scale of the change to how the proposals he appear to support will change how copyright regulates software. I felt I needed to do that as John don't seem to care how these proposals not only won't help him, but will massively harm other people.

There are many types of technologies, some not controversial, and some highly controversial. The problem is that the technologies that non-technical creators and their lobbiests keep asking for only exist in science fiction.

Once we return to the real world, and exclude harmful abuses of technology (non-interoperability locks on content, non-owner locks on devices), then you will find that the wider technology community has always been there for fellow creators. It is truly sad that far too many creators spend their time trying to stab their allies in the back, rather than acknowledging their contributions.

We offer technologies that offer members-only sites, and good authentication systems to that members can easily identify themselves in ways that are hard to forge if a web service wants that. We are also active in steganography such that it is possible to detect the authenticity and/or the origins of content that was unlawfully shared.

What we will not do, and John keeps asking us to do, is lie and pretend we can offer some snake-oil to appease requests for technologies that can't exist in the real world. We won't lie and give authors what they think you want, but which is actually a Trojan horse that will greatly harm authors.

Just like I won't apologise for actually paying creators when John reprimands me, I won't apologise for caring more for his interests than he cares about mine.

The most amusing aspect of the copyright debate is intermediaries like the recording industry calling for legal protection of the most controversial uses of technology. What these technologies will enable is for the technology platform providers to replace the existing intermediaries. If these technologies are successful, and work out as their technology industry creators intend, the recording industry and much of the existing publishing industry will cease to exist.

In order to analyse the actual effect of real-world technology you need to be able to tell the difference between science and science fiction. It disturbs me that creators, who have so much to lose, are uninterested in even learning the basics.

Side-note: I find it interesting that some folks are trying to use the term "copyleft" as a derogatory term, much like the Conservative party uses the term "socialist" or "union" as a derogatory term. It would have more meaning if the term were being used correctly, recognising that real-world copyleft licenses rely on copyright even more than John does. The difference isn't the level of protection demanded, but the currency of the material and moral reward. It is also different in whether the business methods harness or reject new-media.

But, having people make up their own meanings to words to try to vilify anyone who isn't identical to them is common in politics. It creates a very divisive us vs. not-identical-to-us mentality. I guess I shouldn't expect any better here.

All it really means is that these creators are effectively giving up their place at the negotiation table, as the people they have aligned themselves with are not on their side.

Darryl said...

Russell, the people calling for legal protections for DRM are quite aware that the technology is science fiction. If it was real science, they wouldn't need these laws protecting the tech now would they.

Through these changes in law they will acquire total control over a creative works, and personal devices just as effectively as if the tech were real science.

This is but another step deeper into the permission culture that Lessig warned about. It's not good for users, and frankly I don't see it being good for creators either, but by the time some of them realize it, I expect it will be far too late.

Russell McOrmond said...


If the only people calling for legal protection for these types of locks were the technology companies, I wouldn't be worried. In Canada it would have flipped the Heritage/Industry dynamic as it would have been the Industry Minister contemplating supporting the excessive requests from BSA/CAAST/ESA , and the Heritage Minister fighting for the interests of creators against these aggressors.

Unfortunately there is a pile-on of technologically illiterate creator-groups calling for these laws as well. It is these groups, not the technology companies, who are ultimately responsible for the harm that this bill will bring upon all creators and competitors to the platform monopolists in the tech industry.

John said...

I've said it before -- we can make a little toy car bounce down onto Mars inside a giant balloon, and then have it roam around and send back enough data to allow us to analyze the geometric composition of the surface of that planet... but we can't make a digital rights management system that respects fair dealing?

I'm sorry, Russell, but insulting and talking down to those you consider non-tech-savvy while saying "I just can't do what you are asking me to do," is a terrible advocacy strategy.

I can't allow you and Darryl to continue to turn the core issue on its head and blame professional artists for what you perceive as laws damaging your consumer interests. If your only response to organized, pernicious and truly damaging online piracy of copyright protected content is to repeat the unconvincing platitudes of the copyleft, then clearly you are not offering a workable solution to anyone.

The government hasn't bought your arguments, the vast majority of the general public couldn't care less as long as prices seem reasonable, no professional creator I've ever met with any real investment in their career believes your arguments, and not even I can be won over (and I genuinely like you).

Dudes, if you are actually so completely convinced that we're heading for some sort of legal armageddon on copyright, you have utterly failed to make a convincing argument. I'm sorry.

It's mind-numbingly simple -- stop the illegal distribution of unauthorized digital copies, and all this goes away. Your response? -- sorry, can't be done.

Well, you deserve to be sorry.

And whether you like it or not, the term "copyleft" has grown beyond how you would like it defined, almost entirely because of the ridiculous utopianism in places like the Geist comments section... deal with it. There are clownish pirates, and tinfoil hat-wearing anarchists over there. Name me a movement in history with that core support group that succeeded, at anything.

Russell McOrmond said...


I invite you to take a computer science course, or at least do a little reading on cryptography. Once you have the basics, then we can come back. Until then, it is not an insult to say that you don't have the technical knowledge to differentiate between science and science fiction. It is just a simple observation.

Pieter Hulshoff said...

I'm afraid I'm with Russell on this one John. It saddens me that you rather trust in science fiction than in our sincerity to help you search for a solution to your problems, but if you hope to find it in a technological solution neither we, nor anyone else, can help you. You're trying to make water less wet so you can prevent having to use a towel after swimming. You will fail.

If you had read Cory's paper like I asked you to, you might have understood why what you want is technologically infeasible. If I want to send you a letter, and both of us want to prevent Russell from reading it, encryption is the answer. Encryption however cannot be used to prevent you from showing the letter to Russell nor from you giving Russell a copy of the letter. That however is EXACTLY what people try to do with TPM/DRM.

You do as you must; in the mean time I've managed to schedule a meeting with most of the judicial spokes(wo)men of every major political party here, who seem very eager to listen to some technological advice. Heck, even the head of our national copyright enforcement agency BREIN readily admits to what you refuse to believe: technology cannot help you prevent copyright infringement.

Also: don't be surprised that if somehow you could magically make copyright infringement disappear tomorrow, you're still not making one dime more than you do today. As several independent studies by major research center have already indicated: copyright infringement is not the major problem facing the industry right now; it's competition.

Still, I wish you luck. If you somehow manage to change copyright the way you think you want to, you're going to need it. :) Generally there's only one group of people who'll make more money in all of this: the lawyers. I'm just going to enjoy the Canadian discussions from the sidelines; we already lost our battle in Europe with the EUCD after all. Back then, no-one was even interested in the subject of copyright. How times have changed.

A word of advice though: if you truly believe this new legislation will bring you a solution, why not check out how it works out in the countries that already have it? If I recall correctly, Canada's doing a lot better than the USA and Europe in the copyright department at the moment, but feel free to make the same mistakes we made. :)

John said...

Guys, honestly, it's like you don't want to hear what I say.

I don't want technology to solve my problems. Technology, in a sense, is part of my problem.

I want the law to solve my problem. Looks like we're getting closer to that.

Darryl said...

You're right. I don't understand. If you don't see technology as part of your solution, then why do you support legal protection for DRM?

John said...


It's a good day. Go to bed. Maybe someday you will understand.

Pieter Hulshoff said...

Dear John,

I quite understand what you're trying to say; I just don't agree with it. You claim copyright infringement is your problem (questionable), and believe that technological progress is in part to blame for it (probably correct, since that's been the case for over a century). You believe that considering what technology is capable of, it should be possible for us technicians to build technology in such a way that it follows all limitations of the law, yet allows for fair dealing.

How am I doing so far?

The primary reason it all fails in the end is because people who willingly commit copyright infringement don't care if they have to break your technological protection in the process. The secondary reason is that most people don't need to know how to break your technological protection; they just need to know where to find the tool or the end result of someone who does.

But, you say, I don't need a perfect lock. I just want a warning sign to remind people that what they do is illegal. The problem is that people copy your works without the sign. The people to whom you'd like to give this message will never actually read it, while at the same time your customers are wondering why they are being confronted with a warning (like the unskippable FBI warnings on dvds, oh how I hate those).

We've tried to explain to you why what you want is technologically impossible. What it comes down to is that any technological protection can be defeated, because ultimately you give your attacker all ingredients needed to succeed in his attempt. You're trying to use cryptological theories for a purpose they cannot be used for (as I explained in my previous email, and as Doctorow very well explained in his presentation).

Now all of that wouldn't be so bad if that was it. You're free to believe in science fiction as much as you want, as long as you don't bother me with it, but that's not the case here. Because the locks are defeated so easily (perhaps we ARE right after all?), you call for the legal protection of TPM/DRM (like people who commit copyright infringement care about breaking another law in the process), which does NOTHING to prevent copyright infringement, but creates a huge problem for technology companies and cryptologists.

As said before: why don't you have a look at countries who have already implemented these laws? Heck, the USA has had it since 1998, that's 12 years for the law to work. Has it helped in even the slightest way to solve your problem? No? Why then insist on making the same mistakes hoping it will work for you this time?

We've said it before: you're wasting a lot of time and effort on solutions that do not work. That's up to you of course, but we feel that if we can convince you that these solutions don't work, perhaps we can work on a real solution together. Being a software developer and musician myself, I very much support creator's rights, and will gladly support ways to help creators get paid. This just isn't the way, and since it hurts society (and yourself(!)) in the process you face a lot of opposition.

I just wish you could see our sincerity in this discussion.

Darryl said...

John, please explain this to me. I beg you. How is this a good day?

Regardless of whether DRM works or not, this Bill means that media companies are free to put ANY restrictions at all on a work simply by adding something they call DRM (it doesn't have to work).

You said you supported fair dealings, and on the surface this bill expands fair dealing, but copyright owners will now be able to totally negate fair dealings on a whim. Totally!

Sure, I can hear your response. Vote with your wallet. Don't buy it. That is not quite reasonable. Have you ever tried to buy a DVD without any DRM on it? You can't. If software, music and book publishers do the same, then the only way one would be able to vote with ones wallet would be to opt out of cultural participation all together. So what you are really saying is if you don't like it, go crawl under a rock. Nice.

This says nothing of Russell and his clientèle. If copyright holders are allowed to do this sort of tied selling, (you can only buy A if you also buy B) then Russell, who sells C which use to work with A is now out of business.

This is a very very bad day. Well, at least yesterday was.

Darryl said...

Even Russell has resorted to circumventing the DRM on DVDs. Don't you see how laws like this will end up turning a lot more people into criminals? Do you think Russell is going to stop circumventing the DRM on his DVDs? I doubt it. More and more people will do so, because they do not think that such restrictions or this law is just. The net result will be the general lowering of respect for ALL copyright. That will include your non-DRM stuff too. This is not just bad for consumers, it is bad for creators too.

Sadly I do not think that "someday you will understand". At least not until it is too late.

John said...


Please, stop. I understand DRM. I've read, heard, watched demonstrations of, and processed all the explanations (including Doctorow's) about why it "doesn't work."

I am talking, and always have been talking, about laws, not technology. And maybe you and I have different fundamental beliefs about the effects of laws. I believe you start firm and introduce flexibility where needed.

So, outside my kids' school it is illegal to park on both sides of the street, and not legal to park on either side overnight. That's the firm starting position. What's more, there are unmissable signs everywhere explaining these "starting position" very-firm rules.

Now, to help parents drop and pick up their kids, you CAN park on both sides for limited periods of time at certain times of the day. To help folks like me who prefer to walk to work after dropping of the kids, you CAN park on one side during the daytime. To help those who live on the street, I have to move my car in the evening so those with street permits can park near their houses. What's more, none of us can idle our cars for more than three minutes, so everyone can breathe.

Start firm, introduce flexibility when needed.

What would happen to the street where my kids' school sits without the firm starting position on the law books? I think we all know.

Does the firm starting position have any physical ability to stop someone parking a great big Winnebago outside the school for ten days and leaving it idling the whole time. Not really (though probably towtrucks would be employed at some point). People inevitably break laws, no matter how reasonable. So, the Winnebago owner will receive many tickets and may eventually have their vehicle towed and impounded.

Yet in the whole time I've been taking my kids to school, I've never seen that Winnebago. I think that has something to do with the law.

I know -- now Russell and Darryl will claim that my analogy doesn't apply to the digital world for all sorts of science fact vs. science fiction reasons. That's their right. They haven't convinced me yet, but if they want to try some more they can.

In the meantime, today I am having lunch with a few hundred professional magazine workers - writers, illustrators, photographers, editors, publishers and media owners. I'll bet all of you $10 that everyone I talk to at lunch understands why sometimes restrictive parking laws are necessary for a well-oiled society.

Darryl said...

I can accept the parking analogy to a certain extent. Applying it more properly however and incorporating the legal protection for DRM into the analogy, what it means is that all those parking restrictions are valid UNLESS some home owner says otherwise. In which case the restrictions will be whatever that home owner says they will be.

Legal protection for DRM gives copyright owners the ability to write their own laws and completely ignore copyright law.

You say you support fair dealings, yet you also support absolute legal protection for DRM. These are two mutually exclusive positions. How do you reconcile them?

John said...


You've never met an analogy you didn't want to restructure for your own purposes.

I reconcile those two positions by not holding one of them. Have you not heard me asking for DRM that respects fair dealing?

Disagree with whatever you want, but if you want to disagree with me, try understanding what I'm saying first.

You can't very well introduce flexibility into a law protecting DRM, if the law doesn't exist in the first place.

Can you?

Darryl said...


Which one do you not hold. You don't support fair dealings or you don't support absolute legal protection for DRM? You ask for DRM that respects fair dealings, but there is nothing in this legislation that requires rights holders to use it. The legal protection for DRM here is absolute. Which means that fair dealings does not exist!

This of course neglects that what you are asking for is not possible, any more than it is possible to build a machine to read your mind (As that is exactly what would be required) and deduce your intentions.

Rights holders will be free to impose any restrictions they want, while consumers are not free to exercise their free dealing rights if the copyright holders do not want them to. Not a very good balance I'd say.

Russell McOrmond said...

I'm moving my attention elsewhere. I'm creating clause-by-clause notes for Bill C-32, and direct people at another blogger article if they have comments.

I doubt John realises how insulting some of his comments sound. He is in effect suggesting that those of us who have been hired to give advise on cryptography and other real-world technical measures are unqualified to do our jobs. Without a basic understanding of real-world technology, it is impossible to differentiate harmful from helpful technical measures. John is unconcerned with this harm, either to himself or to others.

John insists that he knows our job better than we do, and shows absolutely no respect for our rights as fellow creators, or I suspect not even as fellow professionals in our respective fields.

Oh, well.

Pieter Hulshoff said...


"I've read, heard, watched demonstrations of, and processed all the explanations (including Doctorow's) about why it "doesn't work." I am talking, and always have been talking, about laws, not technology."

You may have heard, but you haven't been listening. In a world with anti-circumvention laws, technology is law, and law is meaningless. Copyright law is reduced to what the copyright holder decides is allowed. Actually, in most cases it's what the distributer decides is allowed by the limits of the digital lock around the content. It's going to be the Apples and Microsofts of this world who'll be the next gatekeepers.

As a novelist, you're probably relatively safe with this new law, but as a musician, film maker or technical engineer you have a serious problem. The law may give you permission to use samples and snippets for your new works, but as soon as those are behind a digital lock, you're not allowed to use them. As said: law has become meaningless.

Perhaps that does not matter to you. Judging from your disregard for consumers' expectations and rights it wouldn't surprise me. It does however matter to us. I hope Canadian consumers and creators will fight for their rights, and that something good may still come out of this.

I think DMc has worded it well: Perhaps his vision may yet convince you.

John said...

Wow, you guys come onto my blog, tell me over and over again that I don't know what I'm talking about, that I don't have a basic understanding of real world technology, that I hear but don't listen. Etc. Etc.

And then you feel insulted by me?

I can't imagine why you have failed to convince a single government to adopt your position.

Let me break it down. It doesn't matter if DRM works or not. You can allow DRM in order to set up market differentiations and opportunities for branding, protect it from piratical circumvention with strong laws, and use the same law to allow fair dealing despite the DRM.

Since you're going clause by clause, Russell, let me know what you think of 41.21 (2) (iii). That looks to me like DRM that respects fair dealing. But what do I know. I'm technologically illiterate.

BTW -- you're past halfway in the bill right now and the great majority of the clauses you have labeled either "OK" or "Good."

John said...

And one last BTW -- there's a new rule on this blog. Commenters who begin their first comment with "Yawn," are not allowed to be insulted by anything that comes after that.

Darryl said...

"Since you're going clause by clause, Russell, let me know what you think of 41.21 (2) (iii). That looks to me like DRM that respects fair dealing. But what do I know. I'm technologically illiterate."

Naa, I'd say it is DRM that COULD respect fair dealings, if in fact Cabinet wanted it too.

It is so convenient to be able to delegate these law making responsibilities to a small efficient group of people like this, who can rule by fiat. Especially when they in turn are ruled over by an authoritarian leader who can simply dictate what the others should think, do, and say. Honestly, I think we should just get rid of Parliament all together, and make all our laws this way. Don't you?

Darryl said...

/if in fact Cabinet wanted it too.$/a (Which they don't!)

Pieter Hulshoff said...

Dear John,

My apologies if my comments have insulted you. Such was not my intent; perhaps my frustration got the better of me at times. Still, I judge you by your own comments, and while I readily admit that your knowledge of what goes on in the world of authors exceeds my own you don't appear to do us the same courtesy when it comes to technology. I can readily tell you what can and cannot be achieved by technology, but you'd have to trust me to speak the truth in these matters.

As DMc already defined it: if you're a consumer, there's a lot of good in this bill. Too bad the anti-circumvention part makes it all moot. If you're a large media company, this bill is fantastic! You can basically rewrite the law any way you want through TPM/DRM. If you're an artist, this bill brings you little to nothing. Did you already read the reaction from the DoC (

The reason we failed to convince our national governments on these matters is simple: in the USA, this bill was law before anyone realized it was even there, and in Europe this bill was a directive before people could protest. The directive left very little room to maneuver on a national level, which is where we tried our best. We've been quite successful when it comes to lobbying on these topics afterwards (software patents, ACTA, etc.).

"Let me break it down. It doesn't matter if DRM works or not. You can allow DRM in order to set up market differentiations and opportunities for branding, protect it from piratical circumvention with strong laws, and use the same law to allow fair dealing despite the DRM."

Yes, you can use DRM to set up market differences (if the customers allows you to), no you can't protect it from piratical circumvention with strong laws (since people who break the law don't care if they break 1 or 2 laws), and yes you could use the same law to allow fair dealings despite the DRM, but that's currently not the case. In Europe, the directive didn't even allow such flexibility. In Canada, people still hope to include that into the law. That's why Geist calls it flawed but fixable.

John said...


Maybe you need to expand your reading on Bill C-32. There is a danger to receiving all information through the same channel.

I'll admit I've never understood the logic of not bothering with a law because people who want to break it will just break it. That's true of the murder laws as well, and we seem to keep those around. In fact, it's true of all laws.

Pieter Hulshoff said...


As I said before: I don't need websites to form my opinion. I've been reading these kinds of bills for about 10 years now, and when the text of this bill came out, I actually spent quite a bit of time reading it. The article you linked to was certainly interesting, but not entirely correct on all accounts.

Myth 1: Yes, circumvention laws do originate in WIPO, but the WIPO text leaves quite a lot of freedom in its implementation. The language of Canada's implementation does resemble DMCA language more than it resembles for instance EUCD language.

Myth 2: Correct, C-32 is not nearly as strict as C-61, and there are worse implementations of the WIPO provisions in the world. That doesn't make it a good bill, but at least it could be worse. It could also be made better.

Myth 3: Yes, there are exceptions to actual circumvention, but those apparently only apply to those people smart enough to do it themselves, since those exceptions do NOT apply to the people who have to make the tools to make it possible. What they should have done is only implement legal protection for locks used for the sole purpose of preventing acts that would infringe on copyright, and only for acts that actually infringe copyright.

Myth 4: Practically all forms of protection measures in use these days restrict access. Encrypted bits aren't harder to copy than unencrypted bits; they're just harder to access. The USA has the same type of protection in the DMCA, and look at the havoc it has caused there.

Myth 5: I'm sorry, but his explanation is a blatant misconception. The arising of new services has had nothing to do with protection of digital locks, and everything with the rightholders finally caving in and giving out licenses. Heck, most of these services don't even use any form of effective protection measures. The USA has had a ton of legal cases in which technologies that should have been completely legal got killed because they circumvented protection measures. As the US judges put it: fair use does not apply to the article on circumvention.

I do realize though that with these kind of articles, it will be practically impossible to convince you. If you don't mind, I'll continue to try anyway. :)

Pieter Hulshoff said...

"I'll admit I've never understood the logic of not bothering with a law because people who want to break it will just break it. That's true of the murder laws as well, and we seem to keep those around. In fact, it's true of all laws."

Very true, but the laws on murder exist because we don't condone murder. The laws on circumvention exist, because we don't condone copyright infringement (which already is illegal), and someone was foolish enough to believe that TPMs could be used to prevent it.

Let me see if I can create a analogy here. Murder is illegal, but what might help to prevent murder? How about a bullet proof vest? Ok, it won't help in all cases, but it might prevent some murders. So let's make the bypassing of a bullet proof vest illegal. Let's also make the production of tools that could be used to bypass a bullet proof vest illegal, and while we're at it: let's make it illegal to discuss ways to bypass a bullet proof vest.

Ok, perhaps it's not a perfect analogy (they hardly ever are), but it might show you my point. All of a sudden, the fact that a knife can be used to bypass a bullet proof vest would make producing such a knife illegal, especially if murderers start using them regularly. Why stop at knives? What about a screwdriver?

Yes, I know this analogy sounds ridiculous, but that's about how ridiculous anti-circumvention laws are to a technical engineer. It doesn't solve the problem, only creates double liability if you do break the law (like murdering someone while bypassing the bullet proof vest), and a lot of useful tools have suddenly become illegal.