Bill C-11: SOPA’s Canadian Hellspawn

    January 26, 2012
    Drew Bowling
    Comments are off for this post.

Blocked websites. Infinite copyrights. Draconian entertainment industries. Judicial targeting of “pirate” sites. Users’ loss of Internet access.

If you’ve followed the news of the metastatic Stop Online Piracy Act in the United States, you’re probably familiar with the above dystopian possibilities. But I’m not talking about SOPA or the United States.

Those descriptions were of Bill C-11, the Canadian equivalent to SOPA and PIPA in the U.S.

On the heels of SOPA’s (temporary) delay, the entertainment industry has stepped up their lobbying efforts in Canada to persuade the government to accede to their demands for highly punitive restrictions on copyrights.

Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who has kept a trained eye on the SOPAs of the world, wrote about the demands from the music and movie industry that could be included in Bill C-11’s revision. These changes would include blocking of websites and, more frightening, extreme government responses that could result in the revocation of Internet access by users found to be “repeat infringers.” Geist noted that within the bill’s langage there is “no indication of due process or even proof of infringement.”

In other words, if the government, sitting like a puppet upon the fat cobby fingers of the entertainment industry, says you’re a repeat offender, then you’re a repeat offender. Say goodbye to your Internet. And if you don’t lose your Internet altogether, you will certainly see drastic if not crippling effects on a site like YouTube, the Fertile Crescent of viral videos, memes, parodies, remixed movie scenes, and so on.

Geist put together a revealing comparison between the claims of one media company, Viacom, and the “enabler” provisions that have been proposed in order to limit the reach of so-called pirate sites. The invective language Viacom uses in their claims to criminalize YouTube (“YouTube’s founders built an integrated media entertainment business, in the district court’s words, by ‘welcom[ing] copyright-infringing material'” and “Google’s financial advisors stated that 60 percent of YouTube’s views were ‘premium’ —i.e., copyrighted—and only 10 percent of the premium videos were licensed”) is grating and reflects the contempt that the entertainment industry has for sites like YouTube as well as a complete lack of understanding in disambiguating between “copyright infringement” and participation within the culture you live in. The purpose of uploading videos onto YouTube isn’t to circumvent the process of paying to view clips of shows or movies. The sharing of video content facilitates discussion (albeit horribly, if you’ve ever read some of the YouTube comment threads, but hey – that’s their democratic right to say stupid things) and discovery of other material that might not be otherwise accessible to users. What is to distinguish between someone uploading a segment of a movie onto YouTube that prompts discussions among other YouTube users and a library providing a free showing of a movie and then hosting a discussion of the movie afterwards? Nothing.

And if you think the effects of a site like YouTube going away are limited only to cultural ramifications, you may be sorely mistaken. According to Geist’s speculation, the result of Bill C-11’s passage could likely effect preventive measures that would be detrimental to the growth of the technology sector within Canada:

Reading the Viacom claims makes it clear that applying its arguments to a SOPA-version of the Bill C-11 enabler clause (which content groups want expanded to include operating or inducing infringement) could create a huge chill in the investment and technology community in Canada. Online video sites, cloud computing sites, and other online services may look at the Bill C-11 and fear that even a lawsuit could create massive costs, scare away investors, and stifle new innovation. Indeed, a recent study by Booz & Company found this to be a very real problem, with a large majority of the angel investors and venture capitalists saying they will not put their money in digital content intermediaries if governments pass tough new rules allowing websites to be sued or fined for infringing digital content posted by users. The U.S. has dropped SOPA, but now incredibly Canada may consider the very provisions that causes investors to become skittish.

And on a final note, entertainment industry: If you truly do insist on making sure that everybody pays for every single use of every single frame or note from your precious copyrighted material, even at the expense of annihilating the global culture, consider this: if you weren’t manufacturing music and movies that are reminiscent of the feeling one gets when flocks of giant mutated pigeons drop cargo bay-sized lumps of nuclear turds upon the exposed brains of your consumers, you might actually be able to persuade a few people to see your side in all of this. But you insist on this path and, because you’re dead-set on producing mind-rotting material that only promotes the death of creativity, you’ve decided to take it out on us. You should be applauding us, though, not sniping us because you think we’re stealing your material. We’re not. Through the use of sites like YouTube, we’re actually doing our best to make your incessant drivel more entertaining for us.

And you don’t have to pay us a dime for our services.

  • Shawn

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything said in this article.

  • Alex

    What can Canadians do to stop B-11? Do you have a link to actions we can take?

  • Anon
  • Len

    For anyone who would like to do the same, here is a copy of the email I just sent my MP (Randy Kamp). Feel free to copy, modify & send to your own MP.

    SHARE THIS & help other Canadians do the same!

    To: Randy Kamp, MP
    Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge – Mission

    As one of your constituents I would like to make it clear that I am opposed to bill C-11. I’m asking you to represent this opinion on behalf of myself and fellow Canadians when it comes time to vote on this bill in the House of Commons.

    Bill C-11 is very similar to the failed and ill-conceived SOPA act that is so reviled by both Americans and internet users everywhere. This bill will allow Canada to become a prime target for SOPA-style rules. This has already been shown by the Bill C-32 legislative committee which revealed the groundwork has been laid to add SOPA-like rules into Bill C-11 (including but not limited to the blocking of websites and expanding the ‘enabler provision’ to target a wider range of websites).

    This kind of legislation has no place in Canadian law and as my representative I ask you to uphold and represent this belief before the legislative assembly. Thank you.


  • Carl
  • Professor Farnsworth

    I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    • A sarcastic commenter

      I’m sorry sir, but that is a meme, and may be copyrighted. I’m afraid your internet access is going to be cut off now.

      • Mr. E

        I’m sorry sir, but the term “copyrighted” is a copyrighted term and I’m afraid your internet access is going to be cut off now.

  • Olivia

    Oh gos i hope not otherwise i’m screwed :(

    • Olivia

      i ment god not gos lol but either way i’m screwed :(

  • Dave

    Forget law enforcement fighting real crime as the media moguls will have them hunting and locking up little billy for that downloaded version of Barney. You want to stop piracy?…lower the prices to where average people can afford to purchase entertainment.

    • pinkie pie

      IKR!?! All of this madness is because of people not buying entertainment! The cheapest new entertainment is like $20.00 at a Walmart! The government must be dumb if they can’t realize that! (no offense government)

  • mike

    Okay I agree piracy is a prolem that should be stopped, however the length that sopa is going for will do three things break the internet, kill a lot of sites and videos that we like, and punish the wrong people. and i’m sure there are more reason why it should be stopped.

  • Dillan

    Well the entertainment industry is going all out to try to shut down the internet, what is this the 4th one they are trying to pass? Sopa, Pipa, Acta and now this one? Sweet raptor jesus.

  • https://antidev.wordpress.com Anabraxas

    Like ACTA that’s being pushed at UN-level, this is the most corporatist policy ever being passed by governments worldwide, as it’s literally giving big corporate media conglomerates ultimate power to clamp down on whoever they BELIEVE is infringing copyrights.

    Great Firewall of China? (sighs) ACTA/Bill C-11 is twenty times more despotic than anything China has ever done in terms of Internet control.

    It’s literally handing out the keys to completely unresponsive transnational corporations to do whatever they like in terms of repression of the free Internet. And it’s already beginning, with tons of sites shutting down, including on Youtube and through Google, which has a very special privacy change in store for March 1st.

    Buckle your seat belt and prepare for the worst. This is their long-awaited “vengeance” over the web.

    So what to do against it? First spread the news everywhere, and discuss what to do with others. Tweets… IRC chats… anything. Organize. Do something, anything that might have an effect.

    We have more power than them if we unite.

  • Vieral

    no seriously, whoever the moron who thought this was a good idea is, should be shot in the knee, have their thumbs screwed off, and then be dippied in boiling oil.

  • craig

    No, let them pass this. Seriously, for there will be war afterwards, and not between countries (aka politicians) but between people and government. You don’t know what you got ’til its gone, and when the naive masses see what is so meaningful to them, can easily be taken away by these bastards that apparently work toward our benefit, society shall prevail.

    • Creig

      I agree that when it is gone the masses will begin to fight. But how long until the wrong is righted, how many hurt through wrongful pursicution, and how much ereversible damage.
      Don’t wait. Start now. Rise up against the government and corporations. Don’t just let them know how you feel- tell them how it is going to be!! Hit them where it always hurts- in their pocket books. The entertainment industry is largely fund through advertisers as well as funds paid to see their product. Stop paying to see it. Don’t go to a movie. Don’t buy a new album. Don’t support the companies that advertise through this medium.
      Between the oil companies, banks, and the entertainment industries we have to do what it takes- sacrifice the things we love for a while- to make them understand that we own and run this country and we allow them to prosper here. Not the other way around.
      Maybe it’s time some of our more talented people started to shut down their websites and see how they like having what they want taken away!!
      Enough said- arm yourselves for the coming battle now before it is too late!!!!!!!

    • http://www.ientry.com/ Drew Bowling

      My worry is that should any of these anti-piracy bills pass, society is too complacent to actually do anything. I think the response from people is what scares me more than the actually being robbed of unfettered Internet access. This ain’t the 60s.

  • DontPanic

    THis article has a very alarmist tone, and while I’m glad to see people so ready to fight against internet censorship, there’s also a tendency to overreact. Everyone should have a look at the bill here, especially the part about Non-commercial User-generated Content.

  • jesse welling

    C-11 is canadian SOPA? AW HELL NO!! KILL IT WITH FIRE

  • linda

    I would support this bill 100%, if it got rid of internet porn and dating sites, complete thrash, no wonder our society is gone so wild!

    • Wat

      What is wrong with you?

      >As for the topic, bills like this should never be supported. The problem is that complacency of the population will allow for oppressions of this sort to pass until it’s too late, as Drew made mention to. It’s like complaining about gas prices while filling your car up. People can’t be bothered to inconvenience themselves and those who would benefit from that will take advantage. It needs to be remembered that government is supposed to be an institution of the people, not a tool for a select few.

    • Will

      Oh great, another person brainwashed with those peskey christian values.