Big Content demands special treatment in Canada

It looks like Big Content is demanding some scary things as it seeks changes to Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill.

According to legal expert Michael Geist, the Canadian Independent Music Association wants to create a liability risk for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, video sites, and many other websites featuring third party contributions.

This would mean that sites would be responsible if anyone printed a link to a pirated site or content.

However, it also wants a tax on iPods, 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.

In short, Big Content would like to be given the power to do whatever it likes short of the right to  hire its own private gangs of thugs to beat up pirates.

The Canadian government, which appears to be on the side of Big Content, might be regretting its decision as Big Content’s demands are becoming more extreme.

For example, ADISQ, which represents the Quebec music industry, appeared before the C-11 committee last week and wanted a requirement for internet providers to disclose customer name and address information to copyright owners without court oversight. In other words, they could get on the phone and find out a user’s personal data just by saying they are a copyright holder. This would be disclosed to a private party based on nothing more than an allegation of infringement.

To be fair there are indications that the government is not that stupid, as it has previously rejected that sort of idea. There is equally a level of insanity among Big Content which the government must be looking at with some alarm.

When Mike Lake, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, took the organisation to task for the proposal the CIMA said that it believed there should be some due process, it was just not practical to expect it.

The damage provisions are equally daft. The industry also wants unlimited damage awards for individuals even when it has said that it will not sue them.