Canadian digital rights advocacy group OpenMedia has launched its national ‘Day of Action’ against website blocking in Canada.
As part of its ‘Don’t Censor Canada’ campaign, OpenMedia is encouraging Canadians to submit comments to the CRTC in opposition to the FairPlay Canada anti-piracy coalition.
OpenMedia hopes to submit 50,000 comments by the end of today. According to a February 28th, 2018 media release, the organization has already managed to amass approximately 30,000 comments so far.
Additionally, approximately 30 organizations and businesses — including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Creative Commons and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression — have expressed support for OpenMedia’s campaign.
OpenMedia also crowdfunded a billboard in Toronto’s Yonge and Dundas square to raise awareness.
Crowdfunded billboard opposing @fairplaycanada's #SOPA-style website blocking proposal goes live over Yonge & Dundas in #YYZ #cdnpoli #DontCensor #CRTC pic.twitter.com/b7QtBRHH8P
— Josh Tabish (@jdtabish) February 28, 2018
FairPlay Canada is an anti-piracy coalition formed by 25 Canadian media groups, including Bell, Rogers Media, Corus Entertainment, as well as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and various artists’ guilds and unions.
The coalition submitted a petition to the CRTC in January 2018, with the aim of establishing an independent agency — the Independent Piracy Review Agency (IRPA) — capable of blocking websites that are “blatantly engaged” in content theft and copyright infringement.
“…dangerous and over-reaching proposal will lead to legitimate content and speech being censored…”
OpenMedia has previously expressed its objection to the coalition, and OpenMedia also hosts the Unfairplay.ca website.
FairPlay Canada, OpenMedia and the HuffPost
While OpenMedia’s day of action continues, FairPlay Canada published a story in the HuffPost, in order to advocate its own position.
In a February 28th, 2018 article, FairPlay Canada argued that “despite everyone’s best hopes, innovation has not solved the problem of piracy or made it obsolete.”
“Legitimate streaming services face the same challenges are traditional players with online piracy,” reads an excerpt from the FairPlay story.
“Canada is caught in this crossfire.”
According to U.K.-based analytics group Digital TV Research, online piracy is set to cost the television and film industry approximately $52 billion USD (roughly $66.6 billion CAD) by 2022.
TekSavvy is against the media industry’s website blocking proposal. (1 of 2) #unfairplay #dontcensorhttps://t.co/MsHqYGSaq9
— TekSavvy (@TekSavvyBuzz) February 28, 2018
“Canada is caught in this crossfire,” argued FairPlay Canada. “In fact, up to 14 percent of Canadian households are using known subscription television piracy services or have a Kodi TV device configured to access illegal pirated files and streams, according to two 2017 Sandvine studies.”
“…like using a machine gun to kill a mosquito.”
In a post also published on the HuffPost, OpenMedia executive director and digital rights specialist Laura Tribe wrote a counterpoint to FairPlay Canada’s article.
“Given that other countries have by-and-large rejected the type of radical regulation Bell is proposing, one might wonder if there’s any reason Canada should break with this consensus and go its own way,” wrote Tribe. “Our answer? Not a chance.”
Tribe reiterated many of the criticisms that have already been lodged against FairPlay Canada, including the fact that website blocking is “extremely uncommon” other than in countries like China and Russia.
“Music streaming revenues and Canadian film production continues to grow year-over-year.”
She also argued that research suggests that piracy isn’t as damaging to Canada’s entertainment industry as FairPlay might suggest.
“Music streaming revenues and Canadian film production continue to grow year-over-year,” wrote Tribe. “With legal options for content delivery on the upswing, effective tools for curbing piracy already in place,and illegal sharing on the downward slide, Bell’s website blocking proposal is like using a machine gun to kill a mosquito.”