Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Other Shoe Drops: Music Reps Want SOPA-Style Website Blocking Added To Copyright Bill

The Other Shoe Drops: Music Reps Want SOPA-Style Website Blocking Added To Copyright Bill: The Bill
C-11 committee

conducts its final witness hearing on copyright reform today and not a
moment too soon. Based on the demands from music industry witnesses
this week, shutting down the Internet must surely be coming next. The
week started with the Canadian Independent Music Association seeking changes to
the
enabler provision
that would create liability risk for social
networking sites, search
engines, blogging platforms, video sites, and many other websites
featuring third party contributions. It also called for a new iPod tax,
an extension in the term
of copyright, a removal of protections for user generated content,
parody, and satire, as well as an unlimited
statutory damage awards
and a content takedown system with no court
oversight. CIMA was followed by ADISQ, which wants its own lawful access
approach

that would require Internet providers to disclose subscriber
information without court oversight based on allegations of
infringement (the attack on fair dealing is covered in a separate post).


Yesterday the Canadian Music Publishers Association added to the demand
list by pulling out the SOPA playbook and calling for website blocking
provisions. Implausibly describing the demand as a "technical
amendment", the CMPA argued that Internet providers take an active role
in shaping the Internet traffic on their systems and therefore it wants
to "create a positive obligation for service providers to prevent the
use of their services to infringe copyright by offshore sites." If the
actual wording is as broad as the proposal (the CMPA acknowledged that
it has an alternate, more limited version), this would open the door to
blocking
thousands of legitimate sites. The CMPA admitted that the proposal
bears a similarity to SOPA and PIPA, but argued that it was narrower
than the controversial U.S. bills. While that may technically be true - SOPA
envisioned DNS blocking and targeting advertising and payment networks
- the website blocking provisions look a lot like the legislation
that sparked massive public protest.










The net effect of the music industry demands represents more than a
stunning overhaul of Bill C-11 as it is effectively calling for a
radical reform of the Internet in Canada. Taken together, the proposals
would require Internet providers to block access to foreign sites, take
down content without court oversight, and disclose subscriber
information without a warrant. On top of those demands, the industry
also wants individuals to face unlimited statutory damages and pay a
new iPod tax. It also wants an expanded
enabler provision that is so broadly defined as potentially capture
social networking sites and search engines.



When Bill C-32 was first introduced, Canadian Heritage Minister James
Moore famously characterized opponents as radical
extremists
.
As the hearing on the bill nears its conclusion, it has become apparent
that the only radical extremism are music industry proposals that are so over-the-top that they have managed to make the digital lock rules look tame by comparison (which may have been the
intent). For Canadian concerned with copyright and the Internet, this
really is the final call as the bill will go to clause-by-clause review
next week.  Tell your MP and members
of the C-11 committee

to reject the industry's extreme demands and to ensure that the bill is
balanced by adding the Canadian Library Association's suggested
technical amendment
to digital locks.

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