Just in case you weren’t completely convinced that the Canadian government’s campaign to paralyze technological innovation and user rights with insanely restrictive copyright legislation wasn’t completely influenced by direct pressure from the United States, a new cable document released by Wikileaks should eliminate all doubt.
For over a decade the Canadian government, under both the Liberal and Conservative parties, has been trying to pass new restrictive copyright legislation which has been met by increasing resistance from the public. While the amount of freedom given to individual users varied between each bill, with the most recent Bill C-32 arguably being the most reasonable of the three, any merit was consistently drowned out with provisions that would prohibit the circumvention of digital locks of any kind for any reason. Such a caveat would not only prevent ordinary users from doing something as simple as backing up a DVD or playing it on Linux, it also made it impossible for educational facilities to conduct any kind of research that could even potentially involve breaking digital locks due to the nature of ethics committees.
Each copyright bill that has been tabled has walked a familiar path laden with public outcry through social media, letter writing campaigns, town hall meetings completely stacked with representatives from the entertainment industry, and endless online public consultations. These have been held so many times, in fact, that I have personally warned people about their “absolute last chance” to make their voices heard on the issue of copyright in Canada at least four times now.
No matter how these high-pressure outreach attempts to Canadian citizens were spun, the undeniable truth that a complete ban on digital circumvention would not be tolerated in Canada was always the result. Yet, no matter how many times this obvious conclusion arose, this lone provision would always be the one insurmountable mainstay in each and every bill. Every minister that had been duped with the responsibility of constructing new copyright legislation would always keep their fingers planted firmly inside their ears.
Not everyone seemed to believe that this was a deliberate attempt at warping international interpretations of intellectual property towards a standard set by the United States’ failed DMCA legislation. Now, thanks to Wikileaks, it’s pretty much impossible to deny that this is the truth.
The fact that killing user rights was entirely at behest of the United States isn’t quite on the same level as the revelation that the US government considered CBC’s The Border to be vile anti-American propaganda. It does, however, prove beyond any doubt just how deeply entrenched and calculated the plot behind IP reform really is. Fortunately, up until now the copyright debacle has been tossed around from Parliament session to Parliament session like a hot potato, with everyone involved realizing that the process is better left indefinite regardless of how many times the US demands action. Sadly, it doesn’t look like the issue is going away any time soon, and there is much speculation that our long sought-after ability to watch Hulu is being held as collateral until the untamed frontier of Canadian copyright is brought “in-line” with the views of nations that are apparently much more civilized.