Jesse Brown: Obama the copyright cyberbully

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist:

The Obama administration has placed Canada on the United States’ copyright blacklist. Under Bush, we were on their “Watch List.” Now we’re on the “Priority Watch List.”


So what makes us a “priority”? It can’t be the numbers - even data provided by the International Intellectual Property Alliance (a lobby group who applaud Canada being blacklisted) shows software piracy levels in Canada are lower than in any other country named on either list.

Can it be because we’ve let pirates run rampant? Unlikely. As Michael Geist points out, we’ve come down harder (and dumber) on “piracy” than most countries in the world, and have some of the slightest (and stingiest) fair use exceptions around.

So what then puts us on the same list as China and Russia when it comes to copyright abuses?

One thing and one thing only: we have yet to copy America’s failed Digital Millenium Copyright Act. We have failed to replicate laws that allow record companies to sue children for downloading music. We have stalled on our vow to stumble down the same idiotic path that America has.

We didn’t do this on purpose - former Industry Minister Jim Prentice tried hard to push through a bizarre and punitive copyright bill that he himself could not explain. It would have happened too, if it were not for pesky public outrage followed by a peskier prorogue of Parliament.

But Prentice’s successor, Tony Clement, is now holding the bag and facing enormous pressure from none other than Barack Obama and Joe Biden to make the same mistake twice, only this time for keeps.

Word is that Clement is a sharper guy than his predecessor - someone who actually understands the technology he’s legislating the use of. It’s time for him to prove it by standing up to this latest round of Presidential pressure by asking Canadians what kind of copyright works for Canada, not what works for her bully.

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The more interesting thing to look at is the WHY of illegal downloading. It's interesting to note that in line with this news item, there is talk about who can benefit from giving Canadians access to online video feeds that are blocked to people outside of the US.

While, piracy will never be fully eliminated (these copyright holders are foolish to think that they can, and your right the whole thing amounts to stupidity, and a lot of pathetic victories like taking CHILDREN to court) you can bet if increased accessability and affordability of these items, piracy would be significantly reduced.

The United States in particular increases piracy by creating these region restrictions. People are going to try and get access to stuff they cannot access, and over all else they're going to try and get it for free.

The other problem these assinine copyright laws will never be able to contend with is the fact that the technology that proliferates pirated materials is constantly changing. For each new law, and new method of prevention and tracking that's initiated, there are literally thousands of different ways these things can be cracked, or for people who want something bad enough to go unnoticed.

Posted May 1, 2009 01:51 PM



I would be more inclined to purchase music if I knew that the proceeds were actually supporting the artists and not the faceless record executives.

Posted May 4, 2009 03:06 PM

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