Canadian DMCA Bill C-32 Easily Voids Consumer Rights

The Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights (CCER) is pleased to see that the Government of Canada has tabled its Copyright Modernization Act (PDF). However, the CCER is deeply concerned at how easily consumer rights can be voided by the anti-circumvention provisions included in this legislation.

Albeit slightly more flexible than the Conservatives’ previous attempt at reforming copyright, Bill C-32 is flawed at its core by the inclusion of strict, anti-circumvention provisions. These anti-circumvention provisions are modeled after those found in the oft-criticized US DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and effectively extinguish consumer and creator rights by tipping the balance of copyright law in favour of distributors and antiquated business models.

Bill C-32 includes provisions to address consumer activities such as format and time shifting, however these are all subject to digital locks. For example, consumers would now be permitted expressly by law to rip tracks from a CD into an MP3 and then transfer it their iPod or to make a backup copy of digital content to protect against loss or damage. However, what about consumers who want to watch a new DVD they bought on their iPad? No chance, as all commercially available DVDs employ digital locks and breaking a digital lock is not permitted by C-32 in this instance. Now what if a consumer wants to make a backup copy of a video game to protect their investment from undue wear and tear? Pointless, seeing as a digital lock needs to be bypassed in order to make that personal backup copy playable. According to Bill C-32 both of these reasonable consumer acts would be illegal and subject to penalties of up to $5000.00. So in actuality, the only rights Canadian consumers will get under Bill C-32 are those that the music, movie and game distributors decide they get or what has been aptly referred to as “market forces” in recent discussions surrounding the bill.

A more effective approach to the anti-circumvention provisions that inevitably seem to criminalize consumer activities in Bill C-32, would have been to link the act of circumvention to infringement as the Liberals did in their attempt at copyright reform. This approach is not only WIPO compliant but it integrates a greater deal of flexibility into copyright law by not placing a blanket prohibition on circumvention services, tools and devices. This approach would likely provide the greatest level of balance to Canada’s copyright regime by providing consumers with tangible rights and options rather than provisions that giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other. Such an approach would also ensure that creators are fairly compensated for their work while at the same time provide incentives for future innovation. Unfortunately, ministers Moore and Clement are taking Canada in a different direction. A direction that may appease certain interests in the United States and European Union at the expense of Canadian consumer rights.

Another attention grabbing provision included in Bill C-32 is the legitimization of PVR devices and associated time and format shifting activities. Sounds great doesn’t it? You can now use that PVR you purchased to record your favourite TV shows for viewing at a later date and time without fear of being on the wrong side of the law…for now. This provision is also subject to digital locks (broadcast flags) that will inevitably be used in Canadian television broadcasts that will prevent a program from being recorded to your PVR or cause a recorded program to delete itself after a given period of time. Try to bypass these broadcast flags and you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law according to Bill C-32. Going from a consumer to a criminal just by engaging in a reasonable consumer activity will be the direct result of the anti-circumvention provisions in Bill C-32.

Bill C-32 provisions are not all as contentious as the anti-circumvention provisions are, in fact C-32 does take some positive steps forward in the areas of fair dealing, intermediary liability and educational exemptions. The Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights fully supports Bill C-32’s inclusion of a “notice and notice” approach to internet service provider liability. Meaning that, after being contacted by a copyright holder about a potential infringement, an ISP will be required to notify the customer that he or she may be violating the law. The customer’s personal information could then be released to the copyright holder with a court order.

Bill C-32 is now set to make its way through the parliamentary process and be referred to a committee where it will be reviewed line by line and where hopefully the public can be heard from in a fair and representative way. Industry Minister Tony Clement has made statements in the media indicating there exists an openness to amending Bill C-32 in a way to ensure balance for all sides of the equation. Clement’s continued willingness to engage Canadian consumers in an open dialogue on the copyright issue is rare and presents a unique opportunity that must not be squandered. If Canadians remain silent there is a real possibility that Bill C-32 will become the law of the land in its current flawed form, undermining the reasonable rights of all Canadians with its draconian protection for digital locks. However, if Canadians take the time to engage themselves in this important issue and speak out, Bill C-32 can be fixed and a proper balance in Canada’s copyright regime established in a responsible and sovereign manner.

In the coming days the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights will be updating its online letter writing tool to reflect the introduction of Bill C-32 and its worrisome anti-circumvention provisions. Michael Geist has also relaunched Speak Out on Copyright to focus on this bill and encourages Canadians to join the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group (to get active) and the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook Page (to stay updated).

Online Letter Tool Updated To Address Bill C-32 Concerns

On June 2, 2010 the Government of Canada undertook an important step towards updating Canada’s copyright regime by introducing Bill C-32: the Copyright Modernization Act. Although Bill C-32 appears to be more flexible than the previous attempts at copyright reform, this bill is flawed to its core by the inclusion of strict, anti-circumvention provisions. Understandably Canadians are concerned at how easily their rights are trumped by the overriding protection for digital locks included in this legislation and it is to this effect that the CCER has updated its online letter writing tool.

It is essential that Canadians speak up about their concerns with Bill C-32 while it is still open to amendments. Even if you have spoken out before the Government needs to hear your concerns. Send your letter now and share this tool with your friends, family and co-workers. It is essential that we all speak up now while we have the opportunity.

James Moore Demonizes Those Who Disagree With His Brand Of Copyright C-32

In the ominous course of exactly one year to the date, what may have once been regarded as the best of times (June 22, 2009) has morphed into what can be classified as the worst of times (June 22, 2010). What was once the age of wisdom, is now the age of foolishness. Witness what has become of MP James Moore and his copyright reform ideals as evidenced in this video. It was one year ago at Canada’s Digital Economy: Moving Forward conference hosted by Industry Canada in Ottawa that Minister Moore reached out and appealed to a broad cross section of attendess for their input and ideas for copyright reform. As Moore so eloquently stated:

The future is now, it is coming and it is remarkable…never has their been a better time to be alive than right now…it’s not only Michael Geist twittering in real-time to his universe of people who care about copyright…the opportunities in front of us are remarkable…the average age of a Member of Parliament is 55, but those under the age of 25 are consuming more media than ever before, you’d be surprised the number of MP’s who’ve never held an iPhone…the old way of doing things is over and it’s great and it’s never been better and we need to be enthusiastic and embrace these things. Don’t assume that those that are making the decisions and driving this debate understand all the dynamics that are at play here and how great this can be for Canada…the opportunities are unbelieveable and are unparalleled in human history

Very heartening and encouraging words from Moore a year ago. Moore stresses that MP’s, those making the decisions and reforming copyright law do not fully understand the technology and the influence it has on every facet of Canadian lives. As Moore indicates, the old way of doing things is over and it’s great and we need to be enthusiastic and embrace these things. What a difference a year makes, witness Minister Moore a year to the date:

Those absolutists out there, who are babyish in their approach to copyright legislation who think that any idea that copyright reform would be an attack on individual citizens are people who frankly don’t get…Don’t fool yourself. These voices that are out there, these people that are out there who pretend to be experts that the media cite all the time. They don’t believe in any copyright reform whatsoever. They will find any excuse to oppose this bill, to drum up fear, to mislead, to misdirect, and to push people in the wrong direction and to undermine what has been a meaningful comprehensive year-long effort to get something right…Those people out there who try to pretend that they are copyright experts and they want to amend copyright in a meaningful way, don’t be fooled by some of these people. They don’t believe in any copyright. They don’t believe in individuals’ right to protect their own creations…Make sure that those voices who try to find technical, non-sensical, fear-mongering reasons to oppose copyright reform are confronted every step of the way and they are defeated.

Minister Moore has gone from encouraging broad participation and input regarding copyright reform to casting most critics of his brand of copyright reform as “radical extremists” As the omnipresent Michael Geist alludes, is Minister Moore referring to these groups which include MP’s, consumer groups, university teachers and students, library groups, business/trade groups and retail groups. So this begs the question Mr Moore: Why should Canadians now not speak out on copyright and rely only upon MP’s (who as you’ve alluded average in age over 55) to spoon feed consumers of technology (those under 25 consume the most technology) new laws that will dictate their everyday activities? Why must we ensure that those who “oppose copyright reform are confronted every step of the way and they are defeated?”

URGENT: Canadian Copyright Bill C-32 Another Step Closer To Becoming Law

Bill C-32 has passed 2nd Reading and has now been referred to a special Legislative Committee for review, meaning the Canadian DMCA is one step closer to becoming law. However, the Committee charged with studying the Bill is asking for your input, the parameters and details of which can be viewed here. This is a unique opportunity for Canadians to interact directly with the lawmakers responsible for working out the specific language of the Bill before it is law and comes into force. The MP’s that form this committee believe it is important to hear from Canadians on the topic of copyright and Bill C-32:

The CCER has updated its online letter writing tool to make it quick and easy for Canadians to get their message to the Committee. The Committee and your MP need to know where you stand on this issue regardless of your views and even if you have already told them before. It is essential for Canadians to take advantage of this unique opportunity to speak out with their concerns and specific recommendations for the Committee while they are still working on the specifics of the Bill. Send your letter NOW as the Committee is only accepting submissions until the end of January, 2011.

Don’t Allow Your Voice To Be Silenced In The Canadian Copyright Debate

The Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights has updated its online letter writing wizard in light of recent developments in the Canadian copyright reform front. This update is intended to address the Government’s seeming willingness to ignore the voices of thousands of Canadians and proceed with the introduction of anti-consumer copyright reform legislation in as little as 6 weeks. Legislation that goes in a polar opposite direction of what Canadians demanded during the consultation process.

Send your letter now and share this tool with your friends, family and co-workers. It is essential that we all speak up now while we have the opportunity.

Online Letter Tool Updated To Address Bill C-32 Concerns

On June 2, 2010 the Government of Canada undertook an important step towards updating Canada’s copyright regime by introducing Bill C-32: the Copyright Modernization Act. Although Bill C-32 appears to be more flexible than the previous attempts at copyright reform, this bill is flawed to its core by the inclusion of strict, anti-circumvention provisions. Understandably Canadians are concerned at how easily their rights are trumped by the overriding protection for digital locks included in this legislation and it is to this effect that the CCER has updated its online letter writing tool.

It is essential that Canadians speak up about their concerns with Bill C-32 while it is still open to amendments. Even if you have spoken out before the Government needs to hear your concerns. Send your letter now and share this tool with your friends, family and co-workers. It is essential that we all speak up now while we have the opportunity.

URGENT: Canadian Copyright Bill C-32 Another Step Closer To Becoming Law

Bill C-32 has passed 2nd Reading and has now been referred to a special Legislative Committee for review, meaning the Canadian DMCA is one step closer to becoming law. However, the Committee charged with studying the Bill is asking for your input, the parameters and details of which can be viewed here. This is a unique opportunity for Canadians to interact directly with the lawmakers responsible for working out the specific language of the Bill before it is law and comes into force. The MP’s that form this committee believe it is important to hear from Canadians on the topic of copyright and Bill C-32:

The CCER has updated its online letter writing tool to make it quick and easy for Canadians to get their message to the Committee. The Committee and your MP need to know where you stand on this issue regardless of your views and even if you have already told them before. It is essential for Canadians to take advantage of this unique opportunity to speak out with their concerns and specific recommendations for the Committee while they are still working on the specifics of the Bill. Send your letter NOW as the Committee is only accepting submissions until the end of January, 2011.