03/05/2012 02:27 EST | Updated 05/05/2012 05:12 EDT

CIMA Needs to Change its Tune

Last week I wrote about the astonishing demands of the Canadian music industry as it seeks a massive overhaul of Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill. The Canadian Independent Music Association is 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. If that were not enough, it is also calling 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 increase in statutory damage awards.

CIMA and ADISQ, which represents the Quebec music industry, appeared before the C-11 committee last week and the demands only seemed to increase. For example, ADISQ is asking the government to add a requirement for Internet providers to disclose customer name and address information to copyright owners without court oversight. Conservative MP Paul Calandra rightly noted the obvious parallels to Bill C-30, where the government wants similar disclosures to law enforcement. In this case, however, ADISQ wants the information disclosed to a private party based on nothing more than an allegation of infringement. Calandra's comments suggest that the government recognizes the dangers of such an approach.

The proposed lack of due process is not limited to the disclosure of subscriber information. During its appearance, CIMA said it wanted a takedown system without any due process.

Mike Lake, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, took the organization to task for the proposal. In response to Lake's concerns, CIMA replied:

Don't get us wrong there. We believe that there should be some due process. What we don't believe is that it's practical to expect.

In other words, CIMA believes in due process, but doesn't think Canadians should expect any.

As for where proposed mandatory disclosure of subscriber information in copyright claims and content takedowns might lead, the industry also wants unlimited damage awards for individuals. When asked for a figure, CIMA responded:

Quite frankly, we'd rather see no limit on statutory damages, but in the spirit of the act, I don't think, as an association, we've talked about a specific ceiling. We were hoping to engage in more discussions on that with folks on your side of the table to talk about what is an appropriate level, if it is deemed that there should in fact be a level.

The comments bring to mind assurances from movie industry representatives last year that there are no plans to file lawsuits against individuals, only to launch dozens of lawsuits against individuals over the alleged downloading of the Hurt Locker movie a few months later. The Bill C-11 hearings continue this afternoon.