Canada’s new copyright bill: what will it look like?

The media is reporting on what Canada’s new copyright bill will contain. This speculation was instigated by a blog posted yesterday by Prof. Geist in which he claimed to know what is in the bill. PMO Issues The Order: Canadian DMCA Bill Within Six Weeks.

Prof. Geist repeated his claim in press interviews which were published by the CBC,  National Post, Globe, and other publications.

Prof. Geist claims that he knows that the new yet to be introduced bill will mimic Bill c-61 and is reported in the National Post also to claim that it is so bad that, among other things, it would actually “do away with the notion of fair dealing” in Canada.

How does Prof. Geist purport to know all this? It all comes from “unnamed” sources, sources Prof. Geist has refused to disclose, despite being challenged to do so.

Can we conclude anything from all this about what may be in the next copyright bill? Well, no. We have nothing reliable to base any judgements on.

We can’t assess the accuracy about what Prof. Geist says is in the bill. We don’t know the source of the information. We can’t evaluate if the source is in a position to accurately know what is in the bill. We can’t assess the motives of the anonymous discloser or discloser. Would a government insider who really knows what is in the bill make an unauthorized disclosure and risk being sacked for attempting to counter a government decision? If that is what happened here, the reporters missed the real story.

But, even if Prof. Geist was told something about a bill, how can we assess whether it has been reported accurately and without bias? Does anyone really believe the Government intends to abolish “fair dealing”? Not a chance and any such assertion would be another example of pure scaremongering to negatively influence public opinion. We have seen this playbook before. See,  Fear Mongering and Misinformation Used to Slag ACTA and A reply to ACTA critics, More hype than facts about ACTA from its critics,  Facebook Fair Copyright of Canada: Replies to Professor Geist, Reflections on the liberal roundtable on the digital economy.

I think we need to reserve judgment and see what’s in the bill when it is tabled.

* A reader pointed out that Prof. Geist subsequently posted a tweet saying that “CBC report says I said new bill to end fair dealing. I said no such thing. Clearly stated no flexible fair dealing reform.” http://twitter.com/michaelgeist/status/13493597898reform”. The same statement in the National Post story was not retracted.

For more information about the Copyright Modernization Act or Bill C-11 or copyright reform, see Change and the Copyright Modernization Act.

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6 thoughts on “Canada’s new copyright bill: what will it look like?”

  1. Actinolite says:

    When I read about the plans to abolish fair dealing yesterday on the CBC report, I checked Geist’s site right away as I couldn’t believe what I had just read.

    Geist didn’t say anything of the sort. CBC misrepresented what he had said, which was “a rejection of a flexible fair dealing approach”. You owe him a retraction, and an apology.

  2. My blog correctly stated that he was reported to have said that the bill will abolish fair dealing and that’s what the report said. It went on to assert that it would abolish fair dealing in the educational sector. I assume the statement came from an interview and not from what was written in his blog.

  3. Actinolite says:

    The article very clearly sourced his blog as their source, in the very paragraph you are citing regarding the abolishment of fair dealing.

    You then went on to criticize him for spreading such unbelievable rumours, claiming “any such assertion would be another example of pure scaremongering to negatively influence public opinion”. Given the unbelievable and easily falsifiable claim you are making, do you see the irony?

    The CBC news article has since been corrected, and no longer asserts anything of the sort. You still owe him a retraction.

  4. The National Post article http://ow.ly/1HR7V still says: “The new legislation would make it illegal for Canadians to break so-called “digital locks” — such as those which prevent users from making copies of legally purchased DVDs or unlocking cellphones — and would also do away with the notion of fair dealing, which allows media institutions and schools to use copyright-protected works in certain contexts, Mr. Geist said.”

  5. Actinolite says:

    If you look one paragraph up, it also clearly uses the blog post as the source, yet cited post says no such thing. No direct quote is given that claims anything of the sort. Same arguments as CBC.

    Geist clarified in tweets today:
    “CBC report says I said new bill to end fair dealing. I said no such thing. Clearly stated no flexible fair dealing reform.”

    “Thanks to CBC for correcting article re:fair dealing.”

    What’s your source? Do you have any primary source which shows he said this? Direct quotation, film, audio, anything? Looks like CBC made a sloppy journalistic mistake, and everyone else just copied it.

    You still owe him a retraction.

  6. As I noted before, the source is the National Post article http://ow.ly/1HR7V which says: “The new legislation would make it illegal for Canadians to break so-called “digital locks” — such as those which prevent users from making copies of legally purchased DVDs or unlocking cellphones — and would also do away with the notion of fair dealing, which allows media institutions and schools to use copyright-protected works in certain contexts, Mr. Geist said.

    I did find a tweet where he renounced a similar statement printed by the CBC. I made a note of it in my blog.

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