On Wednesday, the Canadian government took advantage of a visit by Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to give him notice of a new bill to combat Canadian movie piracy. The Canadian government is making a big deal out of this proposed bill, and has been unusually open and transparent about the motives behind the sudden shift in policy. Not due to our elected Members of Parliament coming to us and telling us about what’s going on, but due to the timing of the bill’s announcement and to whom the first notice of the bill was given are we able to quickly and easily determine the driving force behind this new piece of legislation. First notice was given to an American governor, with the Canadian people left as an afterthought. As we can all clearly see from this, the driving force behind this new piece of legislation is the MPAA and the American government. I’m not too sure why Canada is being targeted as a “pirate haven”, by the MPAA, since their own website uses Canada as an example of countries with anti-piracy legislation:


Owners of copyright in films and television programs are protected under the Canadian Copyright Act, which provides that copyright includes the exclusive right to make copies, to perform the works in public and to communicate them to the public by telecommunication, such as by broadcast or over the Internet. Limited exemptions from liability for private copying of music on sound recordings do not apply to films and television programs. Someone who deals in infringing copies may also be liable for infringement even thought they did not actually make the infringing copies.

Copyright owners may sue infringers. In addition, criminal charges may be brought against anyone who makes or imports infringing copies for sale or rental or who sells, rents or distributes infringing copies. Infringers may also be prosecuted under the fraud provisions of the Criminal Code.

The Radiocommunication Act also provides for civil actions and criminal proceedings for signal theft.

A CTV report states that Canadian piracy costs the movie industry approximately $6 billion each year. Interestingly enough, that’s the same figure estimated to have been lost by camcording piracy alone in New York according to an American Press report. That same report states that the MPAA claims that New York City camcording piracy accounts for approximately 40% of all movie piracy. So, by that logic, Canadian movie piracy also accounts for approximately 40% of all movie piracy, leaving 20% for the rest of the world. That figure could be off, due to differences in the Canadian and American dollars and the exact cost in each country’s native currency and conversion to the American dollar, but I’m comfortable saying that it wouldn’t convert to less than 35% of all movie piracy.

That still leaves what seems to be a disturbingly small amount for the remainder of the world. Fortunately, the IIPA, of which the MPAA is a member, made sure there was no confusion and let us all know in late September 2006 that Canadian movie piracy accounts for approximately 23% of all DVD piracy. Of course, looking at their own documentation, we can see that the MPAA has documented that the source for only 179 pirated DVDs since 2004 has been camcording. During the same time frame, over 1400 movies were released by MPAA members, which means that camcording accounts for approximately 12.8% of all pirated DVDs over two years, at the very most. Taking the remainder of the MPAA documentation into account, Michael Geist has estimated that Canadians account for approximately 3% of all camcording piracy.

The other problem that this whole fiasco, and also all previous reports, fails to address is the short lifespan of camcorded copies. People are rarely satisfied with poor qualities, and camcorded copies in general are perfect examples of very poor quality copies. People will generally tend towards a better quality copy, and so camcorded copies fail to be useful once a DVD release is made. With tools such as BackupHDDVD available, it won’t be long before high-def copies begin to replace standard DVD copies as the ultimate download desired. Of course, if we just ignore piracy for a minute, we might realize that the entertainment industry (this isn’t limited just to the MPAA, but the RIAA and other entertainment organizations as well!) could try putting out content that’s actually good, and then try charging a reasonable price for that content.

The best part is, the American government and entertainment industry spent less than six months to pressure the Canadian government into this pointless legislation.

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