Friday, October 21, 2011

copyright reality lands in Ottawa

I'm in Ottawa to take in some of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, but since Bill C-11 is right now being debated on the Hill, copyright continues to be an important focus for me in this great cultural city.

So it is that I found myself spending the entire day today at the IP Osgoode copyright conference, Can Canada Learn Anything From Europe? at the Ottawa Convention Centre (photo above, from my Blackberry), and may I just say that it was an unbelievably refreshing experience to hear real-world copyright issues being discussed east of Parliament Hill.

There is plenty of real-world copyright in the Ottawa air right now as Parliament debates a good-faith bill in true democratic fashion, but walk a few blocks away from the Peace Tower (just over the canal) and things can often get quite, um... speculative and unreal. This conference was like sinking into a warm bath after years out in the Ottawa copyright winter.

Thanks to IP Osgoode's Director, Professor Giuseppina D’Agostino, who oversaw the organization of a truly informative and engaging program of international copyright experts. Really, the intellectual property pedigree in the room was kind of over-the-top. This conference certainly establishes IP Osgoode as Canada's intellectual centre for copyright discussion.

The morning began with a big-picture review of European Union copyright legal activity from Dr. Silke von Lewinski of the Max Planck Institute for IP and Competition Law in Munich. Ms. von Lewinski set the tone for the day, I think, with a gentle swipe at "academic excitement" over TPM protections that are "not reflected in the real world." Considering the local "academic" who was sitting about thirty feet from her as she spoke, I think the only possible interpretation of that comment can be... in your face

Are you beginning to see how something as geeky as copyright can actually be kind of fun and exciting when you get right into it?

Other contributors included former World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Assistant Director General, Dr. Mihály Ficsor,  and UNESCO consultant and President of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale (ALAI), Professor Victor Nabhan (oh, the irony - a visiting professor at Ottawa U).

I'd go through the rest of the program point by point but the Ottawa night and the writer's festival (real-world cultural engagement) beckons. Anyone interested can get full conference materials directly from the IP Osgoode website, starting tomorrow (I believe).

I'll spend a bit of time digesting everything I learned today, and I'll likely work it into my next blog posts. But I can't finish right now without reference to one central message from today. This morning, there was a prolonged discussion about the sensationalist rhetoric and unhelpful analogies that can so often distort real-world copyright discussions. One speaker referred to this as pre-loading the dice in favour of one side or another.

Well, in a full day discussion that included many, many mentions of Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and Digital Rights Management (DRM), I'm pretty sure I never once heard anyone use the term "digital locks."

Score one for cutting through sensationalist rhetoric.

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Russell McOrmond said...

Of course, you don't see how adding technological measures to *Copyright law* is itself a rhetorical tool aimed at "pre-loading the dice". Most of the harmful effects from anti-interoperability locks on content and non-owner locks on devices have nothing to do with the substance of copyright law, but by trying to merge with copyright law it makes discussion of real-world technology and real-world scenarios practically impossible.

And here is the regular link for anyone not familiar with the concerns of the technology community with technological measures being added to copyright law:

Russell McOrmond said...

P.S. Michael Geist did not "invent" the digital lock analogy. The technical community have been using that analogy to discuss encryption decades before the NII process that lead to the anti-circumvention concept being added to copyright law.

John said...


A) I didn't add device measures to copyright law, nor did I invite that discussion. You'll have to blame someone else, and my feeling is that free culture rhetoric brought us here, so maybe look in that direction.

B) Who mentioned Michael Geist?

Russell McOrmond said...

Are we back to the "he who shall not be named" silliness of the Excess Copyright crowd? I thought you all outgrew that after CopyCamp II?

(Hey, if you can make up terms and meanings to randomly lump together anyone who disagrees with you, then so can I :-)

You are the one suggesting that the #C11 techological measures provisions aren't a serious problem to creators and audiences. That is a conversation primarily about devices, given any use control will be encoded in software running on a device. And that doesn't even begin to get into the problems with access controls.

You can't have a real-world conversation about technological measures without including devices -- but you can have a science fiction one, if that is your intention.

Crockett said...

@John "B) Who mentioned Michael Geist?"

Well certainly not you John, but your inference was clear.

I challenge you to write one piece on copyright without invoking the dark lord, you might find it refreshing as well ;)

John said...

It is so cute how you guys are all "What? We're not Geisty fanboys," and yet you just have to come here and defend the dear leader even when no-one mentions him.

Why does it bother you so much that a bunch of smart folks gather in Ottawa to talk copyright and don't genuflect at the altar of free culture?

So, Crockett, besides this post, how many other posts not mentioning your idol do I have to show to pass your weird little test?

Will one really do? Or will you find a way to interpret that upside down?

Russell McOrmond said...


I recognise you are a great fictional author, but some readers may not adequately recognise that.

The views I express are my own, and I held them before I met Geist. When it comes to discussions on technological measures, I was discussing them long before Geist was. In fact, as a technical person I have helped him (as a lawyer without the required technical background) to better understand them. There have been many other technical people since, given unlike other people who allege to be subject matter experts he brings adequately technical people into his research teams.

If in your fictional world there is some "leader" that everyone else is following, then you identified the wrong guy :-)

As to meeting with smart guys in Ottawa, that is a common occurrence for me. No problem there at all. I suspect you know why your abuse of language like your fictional definitions of "free culture" annoy people, and I can't believe you don't do it on purpose. Don't act surprised that when you poke at people they will respond.

And please don't pretend that your snide comment about some by-you-unnamed "local academic" was intended to be interpreted to be a fairly well known law professor in the Ottawa area.

If you didn't intend this inference to stand, you would have quickly "corrected" it.


This fictional story that John tells is more Star Wars than Harry Potter. Eventually he may recognise he has made poor allies, and will join the rest of us working hard to protect the rights and interests of artists.

Pieter Hulshoff said...

Same here actually. I've been lobbying against anti-circumvention laws since 2000, long before Dr. Geist even knew of their problematic nature. He's certainly no ringleader to me; I've never even met the man.

Darryl said...

" Parliament debates a good-faith bill in true democratic fashion, ..."

should anyone be surprized that you or anyone with your view on DRM, would make favourable comparison between our current Parliament and democracy?

Our new majority Harper government is about to ram a piece of legislantion down our collective throtes, which it could not get successfully passed when it would have required real democratic negotiation. You hold this up as an example of democracy in the same way that you promote DRM as an example of freedom. Double double plus ungood., I say.

Russell McOrmond said...

+Pieter Hulshoff

I note you live in Europe. What do you think about the claim from Dr. Mihály Ficsor (President, Hungarian Copyright Council, former Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)) that there have been no complaints from Europeans about anti-circumvention provisions?

I wasn't at the conference, so don't know the exact wording. I've just heard it second-hand from people who will easily re-interpret what was said to confirm what they believe (or want people to believe).

I also don't know the details of the specific countries he was mentioning. There is a huge difference between a country that enacted what WIPO suggested (anti-circumvention tied to copyright infringing activities, no locks on devices or prohibition on circumvention tools) and what Dr Ficsor has been falsely claiming the WIPO treaties say

Because of what Mr. Ficsor has been lobbying around re-interpreting WIPO treaties (after his position was rejected in 1996), I'm taking what he is alleged to have said at the conference with a grain of salt.

BTW: I was only peripherally watching the issue in the 1990's and in 2000 as I thought this was a uniquely United Stated problem that they would quickly fix. It was only in 2001 that I became active, after being warned that this same attack on IT property rights was being contemplated for Canada. So you pre-date my involvement as well.

Crockett said...

@John "Will one really do? Or will you find a way to interpret that upside down?"

Well John, actually an interesting thing there ... the post you identified as not even once mentioning the 'dark lord' is one where I (and many of us 'free culture' folk) actually agreed with your premise.

Could it be when you're not channelling your compulsion, some sense of reason shines through?

Pieter Hulshoff said...

@Russell McOrmond,

"What do you think about the claim from Dr. Mihály Ficsor (President, Hungarian Copyright Council, former Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)) that there have been no complaints from Europeans about anti-circumvention provisions?"

You mean since they were enacted in the EUCD? He's probably right.

People are massively ignoring the law as it stands, but so far the entertainment industry has decided to fight their legal battles in the USA. Practically all of the anti-circumvention lawsuits were filed in US courts, so no-one has felt a reason to complain about the law in Europe yet.

Crockett said...

@Peter "People are massively ignoring the law as it stands ... so no-one has felt a reason to complain about the law in Europe yet."

This makes you wonder about Degen & Gannon's claims that there has been little complaint in other countries on TPM measures. If such laws and regulations are rarely enforced after the legislation is passed then I suppose there would be little reason to fuss about it.

This of course is an 'upside down' argument as John likes to call it. What is the point of passing laws that are not going to be enforced? If the result is people ignoring what is perceived as unfair legislation then the only outcome is a continual erosion of respect for such laws and conventions.

Hardly seems like a good outcome for creators or copyright holders. Instead of seeking workable and balanced solutions, we have short sighted and reactionary legislation that benefits the few.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Russell, what's your worry? The bill will knock the stuffings out of writers' earnings. Haven't you heard? The educational fair dealing exemption means free textbooks forever. That's your real agenda, so what have you got to be unhappy about?

Russell McOrmond said...


I realize this was meant in humour, but I agree with you that #c11 will knock the stuffing out of writers. I just believe that misapplied and misunderstood technological measures will harm writers far more than even the worst immaginings of the ExcessCopyright crowd believe that the minor word changes to fair dealings will have.

Gruesome said...

"People are massively ignoring the law as it stands ... so no-one has felt a reason to complain about the law in Europe yet."

This is what I expect to see in Canada's future, we have a history of non enforcement of these types of laws.

John said...

There you go. I knew you fellows would all find a way to get back to what you love most... denial of what is actually said, and creative reinterpretation so you don't have to feel challenged by reality.

The best, of course, is Darryl's paranoid assertion that a democratically elected Parliament in a constitutional democracy/confederacy that has enjoyed 144 years as one of the world's most stable and democratic nations is somehow not democratic.

You fellows have done what I had hoped you'd do - accentuate the huge gulf between reasoned discussion of copyright (which took place at the conference on Friday) and the confused ramblings of free culture.


Russell McOrmond said...


I assume you recognize the difference between "reasoned discussion on copyright" and "political opinions that you happen to agree with".

I attended both CopyCamp conferences in Toronto (Co-hosted by the Creators Rights Alliance, I believe partly sponsored by Access Copyright, for those who didn't know), and those were inclusive of a far greater variety of opinions and would qualify far more as "reasoned discussion on copyright" than what it appears you attended on Friday.

Darryl said...

John, being given the option to vote for MPs once every 4 years or so may have some traits of democracy.

The debates that go on within Parliament when any majority government is sitting, can hardly be called democratic by any definition of the word. The PMO holds total power over all of the ruling party's MPs.

The fact that you call this widely shared criticism a "paranoid assertion" says more about your radicalism than mine.

Crockett said...

Democracy -

noun: A standing government who represents the will of 35% of the electorate implementing copyright legislation reflecting the minority of the public consultation and opposed by 65% of the public's representatives.

antonym: A standing government who requests a foreign power to falsely appoint it to a special [301] list to embarrass itself and said public consultation.

John said...

Ah, Crockett, so you DO agree with Darryl that Canadians don't live in a democracy. This is an important bit of context for all of your commentary on copyright.

BTW guys, I think your very own emperor needs you over on his blog to jump into the comments and tell him what a wonderful suit of new clothes he acquired for himself at Friday's conference. He can't do all that propping-up work by himself.

Run along.

Darryl said...

And that you consider what goes on within our Parliament now as "true democratic fashion" is equally telling.

I poked over at MG's site. Actually I'm having more fun here laughing at what you're (NOT) wearing.

Sandy Crawley said...

The IP Osgoode Conference in Ottawa certainly wasn't a unison sing-along as at least one comment here suggests. But it was a stimulating discussion of various issues including TPMs and the key role of collective administration. The strengths and weaknesses associated with particular European collectives was examined in an atmosphere of respect and intellectual rigour. It was interesting to note that while two of the most vociferous advocates of abandoning not-for-profit collective rights administration were present, neither of them raised a question as to the value of rights collectives. I did find that somewhat odd considering the public campaigns they continue to wage here in Canada.

Russell McOrmond said...

+Sandy Crawley

My thinking this was a biased conference was based on this article by John and things I saw on Twitter.

I got a different impression (which I G+'d about this morning ) from other people attending, including Mr. Geist who suggested it was more balanced than John suggested.

I'm also more familiar with conferences where speakers are less biased bureaucrats and academics rather than lawyers who have acted as lobbiests for specific interests.

I've asked if they plan to put a video archive online for those of us who didn't get to attend (in my case only because I didn't hear about it ahead of time).

Gruesome said...

" I think your very own emperor needs you over on his blog to jump into the comments and tell him what a wonderful suit of new clothes he acquired for himself at Friday's conference"
Were they selling clothes at the conference? Were there any good deals?, I always miss the good sales!!!
By the way have you guys seen this?
Duck and cover the law suites are about to fly...

Crockett said...

Really John, you are forever complaining that people are misconstruing your words so all the more strange your comment below.

@John "Ah, Crockett, so you DO agree with Darryl that Canadians don't live in a democracy."

My post does nothing of the sort, rather just creatively lists some facts, you remember those John?

We live in a fine democracy, as you say John one of the best in the world, but a democracy still needs participation by the people before, during and after an election. A tick on a paper and then quiet acquiescence for four years does not a healthy democracy make.

Sandy Crawley said...

@ Russell

Thanks for the clarification Russel. I'm not sure there is a video but the various slides are informative in themselves.

Russell McOrmond said...


I even offer my thoughts on the legality of sites like ReDigi on where I ask people to think about the case where the tangible media doesn't exist. The first sale doctrine in the USA (and BTW, we are in Canada which has a much stricter copyright system) is tied to their being a tangible media. I suspect when these folks are seen as worthy to sue, they won't have much of a leg to stand on.

Given the wording in their FAQ, I doubt they have consulted a lawyer.

(Funny -- the word verification that Google offers me to prove I am a human is "desist")

John said...

Now that's interesting, Russell. You assumed the conference was one-sided because of what I wrote about it - "real-world copyright issues?"

You prefer it when the copyright issues don't address the real world?

Many of the slide presentations are available on the IP Osgoode website, but I have no idea about a video record.

And, like Sandy, I too was very surprised that neither Geist nor Howard Knopf made a single comment over the course of the day.

Who am I kidding? I'm not at all surprised.

John said...

Oh, Russell - you accuse me of snide remarks against someone I never even mention in my posting, while dismissing one of the most internationally respected experts on copyright as a "lobbiest masquerading as a bureaucrat."

I'm sorry there isn't a way for you or Geist or Crockett or Darryl to change what happened on Friday into something you would have enjoyed, but that would involve time travel, and I know how much you hate science fiction.

Russell McOrmond said...

While you may have agreed with his views, that alone doesn't make someone "one of the most internationally respected experts on copyright". I don't define whether I respect someone based on whether I agree with them. In the case of Dr. Mihály Ficsor he has been less-than-honest in his attempts to rewrite history around what was agreed to at WIPO in 1996.

I think if the policies he was promoting were ones you agreed were as harmful to creators as I do, you would not be so quick to ignore the impacts of his specific lobbying at WIPO and IIPA.

I know I would have enjoyed the conference. I don't have to agree with everything said in order to enjoy learning. I tend to learn more from people I disagree with than those I already agree with, which is why I still follow you on Twitter and occasionally follow links to your blog (as I did for this article).

John said...

Hmmmm, yes, absolutely nothing snide in the way you write about copyright.

Sandy Crawley said...

@ Russell,

With all due respect it sounds as if you are prepared to dismiss M.Ficsor's views simply because he believes that copyright protection has a social value as well as an economic one. Is that why you dub him a lobbyist? And in what category would you place your own advocacy on the subject? Just asking :-)

Russell McOrmond said...

@Sandy Crawley

I believe copyright protection has a social value as well as an economic one.

Please don't misinterpret my involvement in this debate, which is to protect the interests of fellow authors. As a different example, John and I have the same overall motivations, but very often have opposing ideas of policies which would benefit vs harm creators.

While it might be nice if the world was divided into those who cared about creators and those who don't, the "copyright reality" is far more complex than the charactures some like to post.

So, caring about creators and our moral and material rights isn't what is being debated (at least by me -- contrary to John's attempt to divide the world into us-vs-them, the other people commenting to his articles each have different motivations/etc).

I take what Mihály Ficsor has to say with a grain of salt because:

a) He has been misrepresenting what was agreed to at WIPO in 1996, abusing his position within WIPO to fudge the WIPO guide to suggest that countries agreed to something that they did not.

b) He doesn't disclose his close ties as a lobbiest for an industry association that happens to share his views on what they believe *should* have been agreed to in 1996 rather than what was agreed to in 1996.

The country delegations appropriately rejected the proposals from M.Ficsor in 1996. These proposals would have been harmful to the interests of authors. Mr. Ficsor disagrees, and from various forums I've come to know that John also disagrees. That doesn't change what happened in 1996.

This is critical to the C-11 debate as WIPO allowed flexibility which M. Ficsor alleges doesn't exist. Mr. Ficsor wants to shut down critically necessary policy debate, claiming that by agreeing to ratify the 1996 treaties countries have agreed to his particular narrow point of view.

While I don't agree with those who want to include electoral reform and other such side-issues into the question of the debate on C-11, I do believe what Mr. Ficsor is attempting to do by abusing his alleged status and alleging the debate is over (and that he personally won) is anti-democratic.

Russell McOrmond said...

"And in what category would you place your own advocacy on the subject? Just asking :-) "

While I'm a volunteer and haven't been paid (beyond a pizza or two, some donated books, or conference fees) for my copyright policy work, that doesn't mean I'm not a lobbiest.

I have my own (widely written about, so won't bore anyone) motivations for my own positions. I'm not attempting to be unbiased as we would see from the academics and bureaucrats (including those that John doesn't like).

You can tell me if you think an unusually engaged citizen is a "lobbiest", or if you use that term more narrowly for people paid to express specific opinions.

I think where Mr. Ficsor sits is in a place similar to Barry Sookman, as someone paid by specific interests to present specific views.

Different than Mr. Ficsor, I only disagree with Mr. Sookman's policy positions. I don't feel Mr. Sookman is using less-than-honest tactics to try to convey his positions like I do Mr. Ficsor. Mr. Sookman also registers as a lobbiest, and is open about his many ties and client base.


Gruesome said...

Here's why I think many people have a lack respect for Mr Fiscor.
If you ask him to explain his restrictive interpretation of WIPO he gives an argument that never actually quotes WIPO language.
But from WIPO
"Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their rights under this Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts, in respect of their works, which are not authorized by the authors concerned or PERMITTED BY LAW."

Caps by me for emphasis

In other words if the act is permitted by law such as various Fair Dealing then there is no need for protection or remedy.
Notice also that Canada bypassed effective altogether.
Some countries have included "effective" which allows for the disregard of protections like the one on DVD's since it is no longer truly effective. (Distributing copied DVD's is still illegal under copyright)
Permitted by law gives countries the flexibility to allow exceptions where the dealing is fair.

If Mr. Fiscor is so certain that his interpretation is correct or if anyone here can find language in WIPO treaty that would somehow over ride the above language then please post it.

Mt. Fiscor seems to be disingenuous with his responses when asked about this specific area.
It's hard to maintain respect when disingenuous

It's not difficult to identify the obfuscation here.
For instance when Mr Sookman was directly asked, now that the US had an exception for copying from DVD's are they still WIPO compliant he answered "The US does indeed permit circumvention of copy controls for a fair dealing purpose such as research or private study. C-32 would also permit circumvention of a copy control TPM such as one protecting a book for research, private study, or education if it is adopted in Canada."
The problem here is that copying from DVD's means you have to remove CSS protection which is a copy but also an access protection.
Which if you follow would make the US under MR Sookman's and Mr Fiscor's definition non compliant.
But you're never going to hear that from them.

John said...


Which affiliation is Dr. Ficsor hiding?

This is so typical -- someone flies across the ocean to give his good faith views on copyright to an audience who respect his position in that world, and as soon as he says something the free-culture folks don't like he is personally attacked.

You are essentially calling this man a liar because you disagree with his interpretations. And you wonder why I dislike the rhetoric from the free-culture camp.

Russell McOrmond said...

This is so typical.

We have someone who has been a staffer at the so-called International Intellectual Property Alliance, the source of much of the false claims that Canadian law is weak and in need of major change, come and continues his claims.

Someone from the "Marmaduke Cascade"[1] then claims that he should be blindly trusted as if he were an unbiased bureaucrat documenting facts rather than expressing opinions that coincide with those of his clients.

[1] If John can make up definitions for terms of groups of people he wants to lump together, so can I.

Darryl said...

"This is so typical -- someone flies across the ocean to give his good faith views on copyright to an audience who respect his position in that world, and as soon as he says something the free-culture folks don't like he is personally attacked."

Sort of sounds familiar doesn't it? Only with the shoe on the other foot of course.

Difference is, one is paid to lobby governments with a particular view point, and the other is not. Guess which is which.

Gruesome said...

"Marmaduke Cascade"

John said...


I'm actually a proud member of the Marmaduke Cascade, though I didn't realize it had a name. Oh, that rascally great dane.

Also, I didn't make up the term "free culture." It's the title of a book by Lawrence Lessig (you may have heard of him), and the foundational concept behind a self-defined identifiable group of folks who advocate against traditional copyright. When the shoe fits, I apply the shoe.

By the way, here's Ficsor's mini-bio for the conference:

Between 1985 and 1999, Dr. Ficsor worked, first, as Director and then, from 1992 to 1999, as Assistant Director General of WIPO in charge of copyright and related rights.

He is recognized as having played a most important role in the preparation, negotiation and adoption in 1996 of the so‐called WIPO “Internet treaties” (WCT and WPPT). At WTO, Dr. Ficsor is a member of the roster of intellectual property experts for dispute settlement panels. He has been a member of a panel in one of the most important intellectual property disputes (between the European Union and Canada). At present, Dr. Ficsor is President of the Hungarian Copyright Council, Hon. Chairman of the Hungarian Copyright Forum Association, member of the Executive Committee of the International Intellectual Property Association (ALAI), and Chairman of the Central and Eastern European Copyright Alliance (CEECA).

Dr. Ficsor was the Chairman of the UNESCO Working Group preparing the draft UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions which served as a basis
for the finalization and adoption of the Convention. Dr. Ficsor holds a doctor’s degree in law from the Law Faculty of the Eötvös Lóránd University of Budapest.

He has written numerous articles and books on various copyright issues, particularly on the impact of digital technology and the Internet and on collective management of copyright and related rights, and acts at a number of seminars, symposiums, workshops, university lecture programs as a speaker throughout the world.

As you can see from my added emphasis, Dr. Ficsor DOES NOT hide his affiliation to ALAI. He seems rather proud of it. So, you know, you're wrong about that.


Are you actually expecting a response to your pointless attempt at zingery? I mean, what's the point of showing where you got everything wrong one more time. It's never encouraged you to be correct before.

What the hell - your linking to my own posting about Helienne Lindvall actually supports my point about folks being personally attacked after disagreeing with free culture. Doctorow personally attacked Lindvall, not the other way around.

Russell McOrmond said...


What I find interesting is that you defined the parameters of your neologism, but didn't recognize it as one.

"self-defined identifiable group of folks who advocate against traditional copyright."

This parameter is keyed on one's definition of "traditional copyright". If you used my understanding of copyright rather than your own, then you, Ficksor, Sookman and others would be defind as "free culture", and peole like myself, Geist, Doctorow and others would not.

As to Ficsor acknowledging his affiliation with IIPA, I will stand corrected. Doesn't change what I said, but I'll acknowledge when make a mistake.

Sandy Crawley said...

@ Russel

I acknowledge your secularity as an advocate (and your bias) but, from re-reading Fiscor's bona fides I still don't understand your accusation that he is a lobbyist. Working for WIPO, UNESCO and a sovereign government does not put him in that category in my mind. And the "permitted by law" wording certainly doesn't disqualify him from commenting, indeed, expressing a point of view on C-11 (which he studied in preparation for this conference).

Russell McOrmond said...

@Sandy Crawley

Ficsor's affiliations with IIPA is well documented, and I've acknowledged that he acknowledges it himself. It is in this capacity that he is a lobbiest.

He is *also* affiliated with other groups, something I'm not denying.

I also feel that he expresses views that are far more in-line with IIPA's position than what UNESCO is expressing. I don't know what he said on Friday as I wasn't there, so I can't comment on what he said then, but I have read his remarks published elsewhere.

I'm not suggesting anyone be denied the right to participate in politics. What we should all be upset at is when someone attempts to shut down debate by suggesting that a decision was already made (it wasn't) and that one person's interpretation of that decision is the only possible one (it isn't). When I've read his writing he often abuses his WIPO/etc ties to claim authority as a way to shut down anyone who wants to even quote what the treaties actually say, or what transcripts from the meetings at WIPO actually say.

While today this is someone trying to shut down debate in an area where you might agree with this person (and I would love to sit down and chat with you to discuss why you shouldn't), at some other time it will be someone shutting down debate on something you disagree with.

John has expressed frustration that the "technological measures" aspects of the C-11 debate has completely overshadowed any conversation about changes to fair dealings. What if someone claimed that WCT Article 10 (limitations and exceptions) demanded that all usage of copyrighted works at an educational institution must be caved out of copyright? Article 10 doesn't say that (any more than article 11 says what Ficsor claims it does), but I suspect if someone claiming authority was making that claim you would be as upset as I am.

I agree with John in one respect, which is that I wish we were able to focus on the copyright rather than Paracopyright aspects of the bill. One obvious way would be to tie anti-circumvention to infringement (as Canada agreed to in 1996, as the text of the treaty says, as many/most implementing countries do, etc), and allow us to then spend the time on the rest of the bill it deserves.

Pretending that the current Paracopyright sections aren't a disaster for creators (of all kinds, not just software authors), or to misinterpret/misrepresent the impact of the Paracopyright policies as Ficsor and others do, doesn't help this situation at all.

Gruesome said...

"And the "permitted by law" wording certainly doesn't disqualify him from commenting, indeed, expressing a point of view on C-11 (which he studied in preparation for this conference)."
Of course it doesn't, it simply shows that the flexibility to implement WIPO as other countries have is clearly there in article 10, where he would suggest that it is not.
If his suggestion were solely that we should implement beyond the flexibility in WIPO that would be different.

John said...


I think it's your endless insistence that I somehow invented the term "free culture" that most convinces me you have been blinded by your own ideology and fevered activism.

Normally, I hesitate to use Wikipedia as a source for anything, but I will this time because it is clear that their page on the free culture movement was actually proudly written by free culture folks. It is this very self-definition that forms my understanding of free culture:

I will particularly point to this quotation:

"Today, the term stands for many other movements, including hacker computing, the access to knowledge movement and the copyleft movement."

I must insist that you drop your now ridiculous complaint against me on this point. Free culture is not my baby, and neither do I misunderstand it. When I apply the term to certain forms of activism, including yours, I do so accurately.

By contrast, you seem to call anyone who approaches Ottawa with views you do not share a "lobbiest." At least when I throw "free culture" into a discussion, I make an effort to spell it correctly.

Russell McOrmond said...


Your references to Wikipedia doesn't change your usage of "free culture" to be some sort of derogatory term to mean "them" in your "us vs them" divisive postings. You have licensed some of your own works under a Creative Commons license, does that make you part of "free culture"?

I did not "call anyone who approaches Ottawa with views you do not share a" lobbyist. The ties between Mr. Ficksor and IIPA are well established, and his specific lobbying activities documented.

You discussed a conference that included many people who said many things that each of us might agree or disagree with. The reason why Mr. Ficksor was centered out among all these people was because of traits specific to him.

Yes, I make spelling/grammar/etc mistakes in informal conversations. I don't proofread everything multiple-times for online comments like this, any more than I would read verbatim from speaking notes while informally chatting over beer at a pub. Don't read my comments if this informality concerns you so much.

Note: The conference has made webcasts available for those who want to view recordings . Will likely check this out on the weekend.