OK, so I’ve given some suggestions, and some people won’t like them. Let’s take this further.
What is Theft?
It has been claimed that downloading music/books/film/etc. is theft. The problem is that it isn’t, at least by definition. From the Criminal Code of Canada:
A person commits theft when, with intent to steal anything, he moves it or causes it to move or to be moved, or begins to cause it to become movable.
First, intent is important. If there is no intent, theft did not occur.
Second, this section is somewhat sexist, apparently women aren’t capable of theft! Well, not really. The word ‘he’ is used in a generic sense, here, like the word ‘man’ is often used.
Third, the last part is describing a physical situation.
Exactly how a court would interpret the statute, in a downloading situation is debatable. Yes, movement did occur, but is the downloader responsible, or is the person who put the music up for download?
Another issue is that theft, from a classical point of view deprives the rightful owner of the enjoyment of his or her property. In the case of downloaded music, the owner still has the original, so deprivation did not occur.
Digital downloads do not fit the classical definition of theft, under Canadian law.
Studies Proving Loss
Another issue is did the copyright holder suffer a loss? The Record Labels claim that they do suffer a loss when music is downloaded. They have produced a range of studies which they claim proves this. Mark Twain is reputed to have said, ‘Numbers don’t lie but lairs figure.’ Considering that the Record Label studies have not been peer reviewed, and in several cases they have refused to release all of the information used in the studies (actually they have refused to release the data in all cases that I am aware of). The refusal to release the information, makes the studies suspect in my opinion.
Do the artists suffer any loss? Again, this is not clear. The Record Labels claim that they do, however as has been documented in earlier articles, it appears that the main losses that the artists suffer are caused by the record labels.
If the losses that the artists are suffering are caused by the Record Labels, then Bill C-32 is of no use to the artists. My conclusion is that Bill C-32 is as written is more damaging to the artists than the unauthorized downloading that Bill C-32 claims to address, because it does not address the damage that the labels do to the artists.
In an email exchange with James Moore I pointed this out. Mr. Moore’s response was that an artist did not have to sign with a label. And indeed, many newer artists are not signing with the labels. However Mr. Moore has ignored a significant issue, in that the Big Four labels are effectively a monopoly, and are using the power of their position to attempt to prevent entry into the market. All four of them use the same basic type of contract. If you sign with them, you sign over your copyrights. Bill C-32 does not address this problem. The bill that the Heritage Minister claims will benefit the artists does not do so.
Why Does Bill C-32 Not Benefit The Artists?
That’s something you would have to ask James Moore. When I pointed out that it didn’t, he blocked me from following him on Twitter. Since he’s not willing to talk, I can only guess. Blayne Haggert, a PHD student at Carleton University wrote a paper titled North American Digital Copyright, Regional Governance and the Persistence of Variation which quotes Michele Austin, who was the chief of staff to Maxime Bernier when Bernier was Industry Minister, for completeness I’ve printed the entire paragraph, with Austin’s words in Blue:
The 2007/2008 bill and its delay demonstrate the complex role of the United States and civil society in the Canadian copyright debate, especially in the context of a minority Parliament, and the supreme role of the Prime Minister‟s Office and Privy Council Office as the final arbiter of legislation in the Canadian parliamentary regime. The decision to pursue DMCA-style TPM rules was purely political, the result of pressure from a Prime Minister‟s Office intent on passing a U.S.-friendly law. As Michele Austin, then-Industry Minister Maxime Bernier‟s (2006-2007) chief of staff, recounts: “The Prime Minister‟s Office‟s position was, move quickly, satisfy the United States.” When the two ministers responsible protested for political and technical reasons, the PMO replied “„We don‟t care what you do, as long as the U.S. is satisfied‟”
The Canadian Government is supposed to be responsible to Canadians. If the above is true, the situation is extremely troubling. Consider who made the statement, and that the statement has not been retracted. Under the circumstances a Judicial Inquiry is warranted, as this could be considered a case of corruption in the highest levels of the Canadian Government.
Let’s take a look at some of the political implications. First off, I’m a conservative. Have been for a long time. But what is a conservative? The root word of conservative is conserve, so let’s look at it first:
–verb (used with object)
Note that I’ve ignored certain definitions which apply to chemistry and cooking. Now let’s look at Conservative: