[this kind of cut-up image could soon be illegal in Canada! don't chicken out!]

Those worldwide might not know this, but Canada is posed to put into place new copyright legislation that, according to Michael Geist, would be worse then the US' infamous DMCA. Check out Geist's first take on Bill C-61 here.

The first draft of this bill was defeated in December '07 as an unexpected resistance grew amongst us Canucks, with a large Facebook presence and a strong campaign to stop the Bill. Unfortunately much has fallen on deaf ears, and the Bill, if passed, will possibly make unlocking a cellphone illegal in Canada, as well as watching out-of-region coded DVDs. In short, according to Geist, "the DMCA provisions are worse than the U.S. and the consumer exceptions riddled with limitations as the government promotes a strategy of locking down content and launching lawsuits against Internet users."

Moreover, it will be illegal to "distort or mutilate a copyright performance" -- as in remixing will be illegal; hell mixing at all will be illegal. If you blend two pre-recorded sounds together, that's illegal. Turntablism and radio-art and collage will all be illegal. Mash-ups? Forget it. As for penalties? $500 for the first infringement, then $5000, then $10,000. And that's per infringement, as in, per MP3. You will be in jail for about 25 years to life with a debt the size of the GDP if you have a hard-drive of shared songs, remixes, mash-ups, transferred videos, an unlocked cellphone and a few Chinatown kung-fu DVDs.

Right about now I would highly recommend K.W. Jeter's Noir, which is all about future capitalism and the extreme penalties for copyright infringement -- to the point where, after one's spine has been removed (read the book), one lives on as a ghost, can't even die to escape the law, and as a ghost, must collect trash to pay back the massive amount of financial penalties, which accumulate interest faster than the trash-collecting allows. It's an endless purgatory, a living hell, and it's coming to a little capitalist state near you! Steven Shaviro provides an excellent analysis of Jeter's novel in his book Connected, wherein he mixes it with trends in contemporary capitalism. Well, here you go. (FYI in Jeter's novel, to be 'connected' means to be 'fucked' – the rich are unconnected, and can go offline, while the Suits and the worker bees are always online, always connected, and never able to escape the info-copyright-corporate economy.)

Today I got an email from Ministers Prentice and Verner who are pushing this bill. Here's their email. Let 'em know what you think. Let 'em know a LOT. I did:


Thanks for your email but it smacks of a PR move for this hugely unpopular bill, and for good reason -- Bill C-61 ignores the demands of Canadian ARTISTS, the CONTENT MAKERS, and panders instead to the corporations that are currently trying to lock down all culture and render it nothing less than a commodity to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

For example:

> - implement new rights and protections for copyright holders, tailored to the
> Internet, to encourage participation in the online economy, as well as
> stronger legal remedies to address Internet piracy;

Yes, and this is a problem! We don't need 'stronger legal remedies to address piracy', we need a redefinition of piracy that leaves the door open for content creators and an open sharing system to encourage creativity. We don't need "new rights," we need to reduce the rights of copyright holders who, primarily being corporations, have extended the reign of copyright far beyond what is productive, useful or ethical.

> - clarify the roles and responsibilities of Internet Service Providers related
> to the copyright content flowing over their network facilities; and

As in : clamp down on ISPs for allowing BitTorrent and other sharing networks endorsed by, for example, the CBC..! This is like shutting down telephone traffic because people talk about TV shows. ISPs should NOT be pressured in this manner, and sharing networks should be *encouraged* rather than villified. That I cannot access Canadian-taxpayer funded content from the CBC using BitTorrent due to the ISP restrictions is a HUGE problem.

And is there any talk here of the CRTC breaking up the current monopoly we have in Canada between Rogers/Bell/Shaw/Videotron, that is driving up Internet, cellphone, landline and TV access prices, leaving Canada one of the most expensive places in the world for telecommunications?

> - provide photographers with the same rights as other creators.

Fine, what of DJs? Audio-collage artists? Electronic musicians? The list goes way past photography (which was invented in the late 19th century!). C'mon folks, get with it. We're in the 21C now. Stop trying to turn back the clock.

> What Bill C-61 does not do:
> - it would not empower border agents to seize your iPod or laptop at border
> crossings, contrary to recent public speculation

The border guards can ALREADY seize your laptop and copy all of your data -- as the CBC has been reporting -- so what you are saying here is that nothing has changed! Sure, border guards aren't *empowered* because they already are seizing data!

> What this Bill is not:
> - it is not a mirror image of U.S. copyright laws. Our Bill is made-in-Canada
> with different exceptions for educators, consumers and others and brings us
> into line with more than 60 countries including Japan, France, Germany and
> Australia

No, it goes much farther than that, and is directly a pressure of the MPAA and RIAA on Canadian interests. We all know this. The rhetoric is the same. The scare tactics over camcording in Quebec, etc, are easy to see. Stop trying to pull the wool over our eyes: this bill will open the door for the RIAA and MPAA to sue Canadian consumers.

> Bill C-61 was introduced in the Commons on June 12, 2008 by Industry Minister
> Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner.

Who should be tarred & feathered for selling Canadian culture to the corporations.

You will be remembered for sending us all down the pipe, dear Ministers -- but then we wouldn't expect anything less from the Harper Gov't: while Canadians at home see their culture cleaved into pieces by corporations eager to sell & sue, Canada abroad pretends it can fight more wars. We're just trying to be just like our Southern neighbour -- and right when the old Bush regime is on its way out, finally. Disgusting. We're running years behind with the cost of our telecommunications and now trying to become like everybody else in the race to the bottom rather than thinking creatively as to how to address the massive technological changes that have already taken place.

-- tobias c. van Veen
turntablist, artist & curator

> For more information, please visit the Copyright Reform Process website at
> Thank you for sharing your views on this important matter.
> The Honourable Jim Prentice, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
> Minister of Industry
> The Honourable Josée Verner, P.C., M.P.
> Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women
> and Official Languages and Minister for
> La Francophonie


posted. Thu - June 12, 2008 @ 05:58 PM           |