Did Heritage Minister James Moore lose a $10,000 bet?
Opposition MPs say Moore pledged $10,000 that the Conservative government’s controversial copyright bill would be amended by a special committee of MPs.
But the Conservatives, who hold the majority on the committee, refused all opposition amendments. Now the NDP, Liberals and the lone Green MP say it’s time for Moore to pay up.
“He made a bet with one of the Liberals that if we got it to committee, he said, ‘I bet you $10,000 we will accept amendments to the bill,’” NDP MP Charlie Angus told The Huffington Post Canada. “But they didn’t, not a single one.”
The NDP introduced 17 amendments that were all ignored, including efforts to clarify digital lock provisions, allow greater use of content for education purposes and for those with perceptual disabilities.
“Under this new bill, if you get information sent to you on an inter-library loan it has to be erased after five days,” Angus said. If libraries photocopy a research paper, researchers have 30 days to work with it but if it is sent in PDF format, it is supposed to magically disappear in five days, Angus said.
“That was just crazy! How do you even make that possible? Or do you put such onerous technological protection obligations that small libraries are not going to be able to transfer materials?” he asked.
Angus, who sat on the legislative committee studying bill C-11, said he’s convinced the government just didn’t want to accept any opposition amendments.
“We were willing to accept the rest of the bill, we wanted to fix the problems, but they didn’t accept anything,” he said.
Moore’s office believes the minister doesn't owe anybody anything and that it’s the Liberals who should pay up.
“The Liberals suggested there would be no amendments to the legislation at all. They were wrong," said James Maunder, Moore’s spokesperson. "The government accepted 10 amendments proposed at committee based on testimony from Canadians. The Liberals lost the bet.”
“If the Liberals wish to do the honourable thing and keep their promise, the B.C. Cancer Foundation would welcome their $10,000 donation,” Maunder added.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae's office said he doesn’t owe Moore anything because the only amendments passed in committee were tweaks the government was making to its own bill.
"Those weren’t amendments, they were just fixing their mistakes as they went along. And while I’m glad to hear the minister has $10,000 burning a hole in his pocket, the same can’t be said for the artists he’s leaving in his wake with the passing of Bill C-11,” Rae's spokesman Dan Lauzon said in an email.
Liberal industry and consumer affairs critic Geoff Regan said minor technical amendments were certainly not what Moore was implying when he made the pledge.
The Liberals wanted to see a number of changes, including allowing Canadians to break digital locks for their own personal use and offering some sort of compensation to artists to make up for the rights lost in the bill, he said.
Earlier this March, however, Regan suggested in committee that the ‘bet’ with Moore wasn’t real because the Liberals hadn’t taken the minister up on his offer.
“I recall, in fact, a few weeks ago, when Mr. Rae was speaking in the House on this bill, that Mr. Moore was calling from across the way,
saying, 'I'll bet you $10,000 we'll accept significant amendments.' I should have taken him up on that bet. I could use that $10,000. I don't see significant amendments being passed that make substantive changes to this bill,” he said on March 13.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May believes there is a bet and Moore lost it.
“There were hardly any changes in committee,” she said.
The digital lock provisions, she warned, will cause many headaches because they limit a person’s legal right to use the material for which they have already paid.
May, who brought 18 amendments forward at report stage Monday, said she tried to get just one of her amendments accepted by the Conservatives but they refused. In return, the Green Party Leader is going to force recorded votes Tuesday evening on every one of those motions — keeping Conservative MPs trapped in their seats late into the night.
In total, there will be 23 votes Tuesday with four more amendments from the Bloc Quebecois and one vote on the bill itself.
“The forced recorded votes tonight will (I hope) suggest what it may be like on C-38 [the budget bill] with hundreds of amendments. I hope they will be more open to changes then,” May wrote in an email.
The Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11, will allow Canadians to copy content from one device to another, such as from a CD to a computer or an iPod. This provision, however, does not apply to content protected by a digital lock, which is any technological measure, such as encryption or digital signatures, that rights holders use to restrict access to or prevent the copying or playing of CDs, DVDs, e-books, digital files and other material. (Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images) <em>Slides use files from CBC</em>
The act will allow Canadians to record television, radio and internet broadcasts and listen to or view them later on whatever device they choose but not for the purposes of building up a library or for commercial use. This provision does not extend to content that is offered "on-demand" (streamed video, for example) or protected by a digital lock.
The act will allow Canadians to make a backup copy of content to protect against loss or damage -- again unless that content is protected by a digital lock or offered as an on-demand service.
The act will allow Canadians to incorporate legally acquired copyrighted content into their own user-generated work, as long as it's not for commercial gain and does not negatively impact the markets for the original material or the artist's reputation. An example would be the posting of your own mash-up of a Lady Gaga song and, say, a Beyoncé number on YouTube. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
The act will allow Canadians to use copyrighted content for the purposes of education, satire or parody. This expands what is known as the fair dealing provisions of the existing law -- which until now covered only research, private study, criticism and news reporting. (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
The act will allow Canadians to copy copyrighted material that is part of an online or distance learning course in order to listen to or view it at a later time. Under this provision, teachers can provide digital copies of copyrighted material to students as part of the course but only if they and the students destroy the course material within 30 days of the end of the course. Teachers are also expected to take reasonable measures to prevent the copying and distribution of the material other than for the purposes of the course. Critics have referred to this part of the Act as the "book burning" provisions. (Flickr: pcorreia)
The act will allow librarians to digitize print material and send a copy electronically to users, who can view the material on a computer or print one copy. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
The act will allow consumers who are disabled to adapt copyrighted material to a format they can more easily use. (Pierre-Henry DESHAYES/AFP/Getty Images)
The act will prohibit the manufacture, importation and sale of technologies, devices and services designed primarily for the purpose of breaking digital locks. This includes technology designed to allow you to play foreign-bought DVDs on your North American player, for example.
The act will prohibit the circumventing of digital locks, even for legal purposes -- such as the education or satire uses protected by other sections of the Act. This is one of the most controversial parts of the legislation. Many experts have criticized the government for not including an exemption that would allow for the bypassing of digital locks for legitimate purposes, such as the copying of parts of digitally locked textbooks to view on another device or for use in an assignment.
The act will require internet service providers to notify their customers that they are violating the copyright law if a copyright holder informs the ISP of possible piracy. The ISP is required to retain "relevant information" about the user such as their identity, and that information could potentially be released to the copyright holder with a court order.
The act will exempt ISPs and search engines from liability for the copyright violations of their users if they are acting strictly as intermediaries in the hosting, caching or communication of copyrighted content.
The act will prohibit a person to provide a service over the internet or another digital network that the person "knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement." This clause is targeted at websites created for the purpose of distributing copyrighted content, such as the many popular peer-to-peer file-sharing sites used to swap video and audio, and is meant to "make liability for enabling of infringement clear."
Commercial vs. Personal
The act will differentiate between a commercial violation of copyright law and an individual violation. Individuals found violating the law could be liable for penalties between $100 and $5,000, which is below the current $20,000 maximum.