Foreign Submissions To The Canadian Copyright Consultation – Richard Owens Is Right, We Should Weed Them Out

From Richard’s article posted on the Osgoode Hall website:


Teachings and Cautions

This short comment analyses the results of the Government of Canada’s recent on-line public consultation on its planned reform of copyright laws, held from July 20th, 2009 to September 15th, 2009. Defects in the Consultation process are striking. While the results of our study revealed a sharp gender, age and Anglophone bias in the submissions, of particular concern is the apparent lack of verification of identity, uniqueness, age (voting or otherwise) or citizenship of those making the submissions. For instance, 70% of the total submissions were “form letters” originating from a single little-known group of modchip distributors – the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights (CCER) – that had its form letter extensively circulated internationally on BitTorrent- related sites. As a result, it appears that many of the submissions were not even made by Canadians. Our study raises serious issues regarding the design and results of the public consultations, and of the need to ensure that future online consultations are better designed to properly represent the views and interests of the Canadian body politic. The government of Canada is urged to make available its own analysis of the submissions, as well as the nature and results of its verification process, if any.

Thus spoke Zarathustra. Or rather thus spoke Richard Owens, an Osgoode Hall Law Professor who also works as a lawyer at the law firm of Stikeman Elliot. Let’s pick his statement apart. Firstly he classifies his write up as a ‘short comment’. Since it comes in at 5515 words, I feel that his definition of ‘short’ and mine are not the same. Still he isn’t as verbose as Barry Sookman.

Then he claims that ‘Defects in the Consultation process are striking. Curiously it was described as a success in the House of Commons. Possibly Richard has a low opinion of politicians, and that is why he ignored this statement.

Then he claimed that many of the submissions were not even made by Canadians. This is a serious issue. Extremely serious. I decided to go back to the database, and look at some of the submissions, to see if they were filed by persons or organizations with close foreign connections.

The first one I checked for was SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), and yes, they filed a submission. Unfortunately SOCAN has members who are not Canadian, one example being Sony Music.

Then of course there’s the Canadian Publishers Council, which also filed a submission, and which has a lot of foreign members.

The joint submission about why Canada should not adopt ‘Fair Use’ was signed by many organizations who have foreign members.

Let me see – does the name ‘American Federation of Musicians‘ sound foreign to you? It does to me.

The Entertainment Software Association of Canada appears to be Canadian only in name.

Corey Doctorow has moved to England. I don’t know if he’s still a Canadian citizen.

Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus LLP works for a lot of foreign firms, and they filed a submission.

Barry Sookman does a lot of work for foreign firms.

OK, Richard has a point. We should weed out all of these foreign submissions, before the new copyright legislation is written. Richard, you win this round.


Wayne Borean

Monday April 26, 2010


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