Politics - Federal

Moore Pulls Out Stops to Ram Copyright Bill

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 24, 2010

James Moore, the Canadian Heritage Minister and the Conservative Party's pitbull-in-chief for their new, public consultation-dismissing Copyright Bill, claimed this week that the only people who oppose the new bill are "two groups of radical extremists".

What the "radical extremists" principally oppose is a provision in the copyright bill that makes it a criminal offence for a customer to copy legally purchased content - even for well-understood lawful, personal use like backing up or using on multiple devices - if the company selling the product adds any mechanism of "digital rights management" (DRM) or copy protection to it.

This provision is called anti-circumvention because it makes prohibits customers from circumventing 'digital locks' on the content they purchased.

The bill's apologists point out that the bill makes exceptions for fair personal use, educational use by teachers, and so on, but all these protections are subject to the anti-circumvention provision and hence toothless.

Moore has been active on Twitter throughout this long exercise in dismissing public consultation, and yesterday I posted the following comment to him:

@mpjamesmoore Bottom line: if content owners can nullify consumer rights just by adding DRM, the legislation is broken.

Soon after, Moore replied:

@RyanMcGreal I don't think it is quite that simple. Certainly not across all business models. I trust the market

I replied:

@mpjamesmoore Is it "trusting the market" to give corporate content owners the power to ban consumer rights just by adding DRM?

His response:

@RyanMcGreal No, to trust consumers to purchase products they want and creators to follow

In other words, if consumers don't want products with added DRM, they won't buy the products, the market for those products will shrink and businesses will respond by selling products without DRM.

I replied:

@mpjamesmoore That doesn't work when an oligopoly of corporate content owners works together through a coordinated DRM lobby.

Moore did not respond to this comment.

It's interesting that Moore "trusts the market" to provide what customers want, and yet advocates state intervention to criminalize fair personal use of a product that a corporation decides to saddle with DRM.

If the government really "trusts the market", then the government should trust an open, consistent legal framework that treats everyone fairly and really does "let the market decide" what products customers want to buy and use.

Instead, Moore and the PMO insist on what Cory Doctorow calls "state prohibitions on lawful enjoyment of private property".

By the way, the set of "radical extremists" who oppose the bill includes: the Canadian Consumer Initiative, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Library Association, the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright, the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Bookseller Association, and the Documentary Organization of Canada.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:31:16

Yep. I'm annoyed enough when I have to hack a device and void the warranty just to get it to do what I want.... it's horrible when the government makes this a legally punishable offense.

I bought it, I own it now, and piss off for telling me what to do with my property.

That said, it's not like I was going to vote for the Cons in the first place, so it doesnt' change much. Whenever I mention this to non-nerds, the reaction is inevitably "who the heck is bothered by that? The only people who hack their own hardware are nerds".

I love politics. I just hate politicians and voters.

Hey CPC, where are my property rights? As in, I bought this gizmo, I own it, and if I want to hack the firmware on it it's my goddamned business?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-06-24 11:35:39

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:32:35

I trust the market

Is code for: I am beholden to corporate interest.

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:36:54

Christopher has it right.
"I trust the market" to heavily finance my re-election campaign.

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:40:24

I was in on that twitter exchange and despite the fact that I think MP Moore is far more interested in campaign contributions than citizen's votes, I do have to congratulate him for even showing up to the ball.

Of course, he didn't answer my two most important questions:

1/ Is Her Majesty's government going back into the "legislating business practices" business -- is this the East India Copyright?

2/ If all legislation is put together, how does the idea of marital property (dual ownership) go against DRM - my spouse and I are legally REQUIRED to share everything.

Not to mention the simple fact that I'm not going to buy two copies of Coraline so that I can use it on two iPods to keep both my kids shut up for the drive to Grandmas house.

Isn't there something about making a law which immediately makes the vast majority of the citizens into criminals a bad plan?

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By Dr. Em. (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:59:30

If anyone doesn't "trust the market" it's Moore, like the CRIA and CMPDA he knows damn well that NOBODY likes DRM and will just route around it unless the government makes it a crime.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted June 24, 2010 at 14:00:45

Isn't there something about making a law which immediately makes the vast majority of the citizens into criminals a bad plan? - Myrcurial

I guess that depends on what they're planning ; )

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 25, 2010 at 10:13:03

Branding us "radicals"? What's next, passing secret legislation permitting police to search the homes of people who sign petitions opposing the copyright act? This government is trying to marginalize anyone who disagrees with the bill, which unfortunately is the majority of Canadians (if the results from their last attempted copyright reform are any indication).

Maybe when CSIS said that some politicians were under the influence of foreign governments they meant our federal ministers who are being pressured by their US counterparts to adopt US style copyright legislation.

I don't typically point people to other websites, but for copyright issues I think we have to acknowledge the "go to" person in Canada is Micahel Geist. He's a champion of fair and balanced copyright reform information. He has extensive coverage on this issue and is often quoted in news articles. Visit his site for more information on copyright and read his concerns. Google "Michael Geist" to find his website.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted June 25, 2010 at 15:09:45


The bill would make P2P or BitTorrent client development a criminal offense if the distributed software was used for infringement. It also implements an interesting provision called "imminent infringement", which allows the government to charge people who they think might be about to infringe with a civil offense (for example if you searched "torrent daft punk").

Emphasis added by me

Great now they want to prosecute thoughtcrimes.

Comment edited by UrbanRenaissance on 2010-06-25 14:15:31

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 26, 2010 at 11:26:57

If he trusted the market he'd let us use our iPhones for what we want. He's trusting corporations.

Put aside the obvrious handouts to industry here - big corporate giants which dominate markets diabling functions on their high-priced gizos like the way iTouches and iPhones have been programmed not to use VOIP functions (or else people wouldn't buy phone contracts or use up their minutes). Or how most smart-phones these days won't connect to your own WiFi unless you buy a pricey data plan from them. Or how discs bought for DVD players or game systems in Europe won't work on the same players here. This is theft, plain and simple, being institutionalized under the guise of adapting to new technologies.

DRM just doesn't work. DVDs don't generally contain much more data than CDs (they certainly didn't for years) - the extra few gigabytes of space is just used up by encoding the data to many times its original size to make copying impossible. Though this code was cracked long ago and now even my sister can make backup copies of her DVDs, they still insist on this rediculous waste of space and materials. Or perhaps the perfect example Windows Genuine Advantage (two words of which are absolute lies), which not only fails miserably at stopping me from pirating anything, but also is dug so deep into Windows coding (with the usual microsoft quality) that it consistantly crashes windows systems of people who couldn't pirate a song if their life depended on it. For all too many people, breaking and bypassing DRM software or WGA is the only way to get their computer and music to work as promised - is that going to be illegal now?

Why would any consumer want a copy of a song, book or movie that can be disabled from a central server? That they can't share with friends or even move onto new computers iPods when the old ones break down without re-buying them. Why would a consumer want a file format which is virtually guaranteed to become unplayable at some point due the morons who tried to regulate your access to them? And finally, why would a consumer want to by hardware to play these things which has a pile of its basic features disabled?

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By davidsfawcett (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2010 at 08:21:24

Here's link to Search Engine (Jesse Brown, previously on CBC Radio, Now at TVO). Most of the last half dozen or so blog entries are related to how this new legislation could turn journalists into criminals for reusing copyrighted material in various ways.


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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2010 at 15:51:04

Lets defeat the corporations by simply eschewing ALL their content/bloatware. All these entertainments do nothing but distract us from their corrupting of our institutions, even freedom, and since Linux is freely available, there is no longer any reason to patronize MSFT or even AAPL. My tiny little Puppy Linux (100mb) runs quite fine on a decade old machine so even the hardware industry can be brought to heel by the public.

Politically we need to do something awful fast. A new people's party or even Athenian democracy which might work thanks to modern technology.


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