Copyright Lobby Leverages Social Media to Mimic Grassroots Movement

The copyright lobby is making extensive use of social marketing in their efforts to influence the adoption of Bill C-32, Canada’s “Digital Economy Strategy”. At just over halfway through the consultation period with the public, the organization “BalancedCopyright for Canada” is making use of blogs, Facebook and Twitter to mimic the natural development of a pro-copyright grassroots movement in Canada and make it appear like the bill has widespread public appeal. It doesn’t appear that many people are being fooled, however, with many people calling the organization out as obvious corporate astroturf and TVO reporter Jesse Brown posting this tweet:

“@CopyrightCanada I'm randomly Googling names from your Members List & everyone seems to work for a major music label”

BalancedCopyright quickly replied that they would provide more information shortly and insisted that they were “employees, unions, artists and creators”. Unions representing Canadian performers, however, have publically disavowed any connection to the organization and the member list has since been removed from the BalancedCopyright website.

The organization pushes social media use hard, encouraging people to register at their blog with their Facebook or Twitter accounts and then to allow BalancedCopyright to automatically post news and status updates via user’s accounts. Their blog also offers a list of “daily action items” encouraging members to follow politicians pushing the pro-lobby agenda and promoting a series of “talking points” for members to use on social networking sites and in online discussions. Suggestions include using Twitter to “show your support for Minister Clement” (Canada’s Minister of Industry) with the following Wall posts or tweets:

  • TPMs (Technological Protection Measures) are used to help creators of digital content – books, games, movies, software and music – to protect their creations from unauthorized copying;?
  • TPMs also enable innovative new digital offerings that give consumers more choice in how they buy digital content;?
  • The measures in Bill C-32, the government’s copyright reform legislation, add a measure of legal protection against breaking “digital locks.” Without these provisions, digital content would effectively lose all protection, and innovative digital offerings would disappear. The creators of music, books, games, movies, and software – and their investors – would be left high and dry.

Bill C-32 represents the third attempt by the government to reform copyright laws in Canada in the past few years. Previous bills - more narrowly focused on copyright reform - had been widely criticized for prioritizing the demands of industry over those of content creators, artists, educators and consumers. Opposition to the bills was also highly critical of what appeared to be the extensive involvement and influence of American record labels and copyright lobby organizations. Seemingly aware of broad public distaste for what is seen as corporate meddling, it appears that the industry is making extensive use of a well-organized social media campaign to actively promote their agenda under the guise of a grassroots social movement. This is certainly something to be watched.