Monthly Archives: January 2012

Made In America Laws

The Canadian copyright bill has distinctly American origins. Unlike most other bills that emerge as a result of genuine concern this one is mostly the result of intense lobbying by the American Government and the intellectual property industry. The released American Cables give insight into this political process showing the pressure of American Government has applied on Canada to implement reforms that it views in line with it’s economic interests. During private discussions between the former Minister of Industry Maxime Bernier and the then American Ambassador to Canada, Bernier was told that copyright enforcement was the most important issue to the American’s economic interest in Canada. Other cables discuss moving Canada to the top of the Special 301 Priority Watch List that lists countries that offend intellectual copyright laws. This list has widely been known as an American Political tool to try and force countries in conformance with it’s views. Canada has topped China and Russia on the latest list, an almost hard to believe accomplishment considering the scale of counterfeit in those two countries.
It is almost without a doubt that the continued persistence of C-11’s draconian DRM provisions exist for the purpose of appealing to the American government which has in turn been lobbied by the entertainment industry. In the cables the conservative government mentions that any update of Canada’s copyright laws would assist in the updating of laws that would enforce intellectual property rights. C-11 is viewed by both governments as just a partial solution to the protection of intellectual property.

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DRM Provisions Remain Most Concerning Part of C-11

C-11s most concerning feature are the provisions to prevent the circumevention of drm. This measure is present throughout the bill and seems to be a primary motivator for the bills passage. Regardless of what rights the bill seems to enshrine, if companies are given the ability to sue an individual for circumventing DRM, these rights are essentially void, because companies would be able to dictate how a intellectual property is to be consumed.

These policies would not be enforced on the level of the individual, which would be essentailly impossible, but rather tools that would make circumvention of DRM possible to the average user would become more difficult to distribute in Canada because the distribution of these tools would essentailly allow for the illegal activity of circumventing digital locks. Almost all media today comes with the inclusion of some DRM DVD´s, blurays and videogames. That makes most fair dealing uses of copyrighted material void, which is of course the intentional point of this bill.

It’s likely that the protection of digital locks will remain in the final bill that is passed. It technically doesn’t violate any constitutional rights and it doesn’t really affect bushiness’s interests. Part of the anti-SOPA push, a legislation that would have prevented user-generated content, was that it strongly opposed to by many prominent companies that would have been affected by the bill. These companies have no real incentive to stop the passage of this law. Business like it or not has as large of a voice in the political system as people do and for most business’s the DRM provisions may actually be seen to help increase sales.

I Guess We’ve Lost

In laughable contempt to the spirit of democracy and fair play the entertainment industry has spent the year trying to pass legislation intended to censor the internet and freedom of speech. It is hard to understand what is going on in the heads of these people, so that they have so little regard for anything beyond their own economic interests. Hollywood and the recording industry have been trying to pass laws in Canada very similar to American laws. The current copy-right bill B-13 which may be passed sometime this year, would make it more difficult for Canadians to access material they have purchased in the ways they want. ACTA which has recently been passed by the EU and signed by Canada will create a international consensus to enforce draconian policies that have almost certainly been written by the lobbying industry. Then the EU is putting on pressure for Canadian to extend the copyright terms to 70 years.

No one asked for these measures, most people are happy with the current situation that strikes a balance between fair use and protection. But the politicians have obviously been bought and paid for. In the next few month’s Canada will be invariably dragged down by unfair laws that will take decades to get rid of, if they disappear at all. The lobbyists have won the battle and they will probably win the next few. I hope they are happy with themselves.

A Partial Solution Toronto Transit

The Toronto transit system is glaringly deficient. The size of the transit system is far to small for such a great size of area, it is underfunded and is very poor in terms reliability. Toronto being very much a car city and now under the control of a car loving mayor, transit is undervalue. Cars are the focus which is also ironic for a city preoccupied by the prospect of increasing traffic. In short it is a clusterfuck. Some proposed projects have been initiated too try and deal with the cities transit infrastructure. Transit city seemed to be an adequate solution until it was cancelled by Rob Ford. More and more it seems like any new infrastructure projects will resemble Transit City, the irrational opposition the mayor being the major thing to overcome.

Making Toronto cyclist friendly would also help ease the traffic and burden on the cities roads but it seems unlikely in Toronto. The GTA/905 region loves there cars and any solution to making Toronto more bicycle friendly would come at the cost of road space, something that would not be allowed. Don Cherry was ridiculed for saying he was “wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there that ride bicycles and everything” but that comment captures the sentiment of a large piece of Toronto. It’s unfortunate and municipal politics at it’s most irrational stupid but it’s a known fact that drivers do not like bikers. Some of this is certainly from bad behavior of cyclists, but I would imagine most of it comes from anxiety of having to share the road with bikes. They do behave a bit differently then cars and the best solution would be a separated bike and car lanes. But of course this takes up even more road space, which is disliked by drivers.

In ten years Toronto will probably have a much better transit system, but the byciclist will find his routes to work even worse to travel than in 2012.