Archive for April 2012
Forget that TPMs/DRM/Digital Locks have radically shifted the foundations of property law … legal precedents that have evolved over centuries.
Or that Bill C-11 will make circumventing digital locks illegal. Even when copyright is not being infringed, so Canadians can be prevented from using/watching/playing/reading the software, movie, music or book that we have legally purchased. It will even be possible for manufacturers to prevent us from accessing works that are in the public domain.
Don’t worry that C-11 has within it the legal authority to stifle innovation, and worse, impede Canadian Independent production by raising artificial barriers. Artificially making it difficult or impossible for Canadian creators to self publish our own work.
The worst thing about digital locks is that most people don’t even know they exist and worse,
most Canadians won’t even realize they are breaking the law.
Although I dislike polls on principal, I did a few this past week to try to get a handle on the the issue. So I asked a “question” on Facebook, and got a few replies before deciding to give PollDaddy a try. I asked the same set of questions in both places so would be able to combine the results.
Keeping it simple the first question was “Do you know what DRM is?”
DRM has been getting a bit of press every year. Even so, nearly 30% of my respondants don’t know what DRM is.
Although self publishing authors have been able to choose whether or not our digital editions would be encumbered by DRM for some time now, most mainstream publishers have routinely applied DRM to all their offerings. Baen Books has been publishing DRM free for 13 years, and J.K.Rowling‘s Harry Potter ebooks were launched DRM free through her Pottermore site earlier this year. Just this week science fiction publisher TOR announced that it would be going DRM free.
DRM stands for “Digital Rights Management,” although I’ve also read “Digital Restrictions Management” and “Dishonest Relationship Misinformation,” all of which refer to digital controls placed on media and devices that control how the consumers who purchase them can use them.
The right to read – publishers who drop DRM
Imagine if each book in your library had a padlock with a different key for every single book. DRM – Digital Rights Management or Digital Restriction Management – are such padlocks. Not the best library solution you have heard of? Well, you are beginning to get publishers on your side. eBooks published by science fiction publisher Tor UK drops DRM. Tor UK, Tor Books and Forge are divisions of Pan Macmillan. They are not alone – science fiction publisher Baen Books, genre publisher Angry Robots, and even J.K. Rowling offer her Harry Potter books DRM-free. If you know of other publishers, please add them below. Protecting the right to read, we need to encourage publishers who drop DRM and use the open ePub-format and buy our books at their stores.”
To understand why mainstream publishers are beginning to reject DRM read Charlie’s Diary: More on DRM and ebooks
My second Poll question was “Do You Know What Digital Locks Are?”
Anyone who has been following the Canadian government’s push for copyright reform will have been hearing and reading about digital locks for more than a decade. Canadian governments have been trying to change the Copyright Act since the American government passed the the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). The first attempt at a “Canadian DMCA” was the Liberal Bill C-60, and when the Conservative Party formed the subsequent government they carried the torch with Bill C-61, then C-32 and now C-11. But until now Canada has been blessed with minority governments. Unfortunately, now that we have a majority government determined to appease the Americans there is every reason to believe that this time it will pass, even though the majority of Canadians oppose the digital lock provisions.
And you guessed it, a “Digital Lock” is another way to describe “DRM.”
The final question in my poll was “Do you know what TPMs are?”
Bill C-11 doesn’t talk about DRM or Digital locks, but rather TPMs, which are “Technological Protection Measures”.
Technological Protection Measures take a step beyond digital locks, or DRM, because they encompass DRM/digital locks but can also be applied to non digital locks.
Some appliances or hardware are screwed closed with specialty screws that require proprietary screw drivers. Without the proper screwdrivers, these things can’t be opened to modify or repair them. Since this is a “technical protection measure”, it is reasonable to assume that Bill C-11 will make it illegal to repair any such equipment unless you have the proprietary tools.
This is a Poll
I’m not a professional pollster and my poll sample is very small. With only 22 responses, it isn’t very scientific poll. Still, it gives an idea. Because I’m a free culture advocate, a lot of the people who read my blogs or talk to me online, or even read my novel are going to be much more aware of these issues than the average Canadian. So I’m surprised; I would have expected more people to understand the terms. Or at least think they do.
77.27% said they don’t know what TPMs are.
[Correction of fact: "Technical Protection Measures" has been amended to the term used in Bill C-11 "Technological Protection Measures"]
Fallacy: Copyright is a “right.”
“Human rights originate in Nature, thus, rights cannot be granted via political charter, because that implies that rights are legally revocable, hence, would be privileges”
— from Wikipedia’s ‘The Rights of Man’ by Thomas Paine page
Copyright is actually a monopoly privilege granted by the state.
What we today recognize as copyright dates back to the 18th Century Statute of Anne.
“[Copyright] was granted by Queen Anne in her statute of 1709 for the ulterior benefit of the crown and its Stationers’ Company, so that the de facto printing monopolies established by the guild during its control of the press could become law.
The Stationers’ Company resumed enjoyment of its lucrative monopolies and effective control of the press.
The crown resumed its ability to quell sedition via indirect control of the consequently beholden press.”
— Crosbie Fitch, Questioning Copyright
Originally copyright applied only to the written word. Over the centuries the monopoly of copyright has been extended to cover photographs, music, music, movies and even performances in countries all over the world.
Although the right to copy was vested in the author, the reality is that authors lacked the means to actually make and distribute copies. The only way for authors to benefit was to deal with the true beneficiary of this privilege, the publishers and distributors.
That remains true today.
[This is the first in my C-11 Copyright Series. Canada's majority government is poised to pass Bill C-11, the co-called "Copyright Modernization Act" in spite of unprecedented Canadian opposition. The tragedy is most Canadians are unaware of copyright issues and don't yet realize the growing impact it exerts over our daily lives.]
- Copyright: Fallacy #1
- Copyright: Fallacy #2
- Copyright: Fallacy #3
- Copyright: Fallacy #4
- Copyright: Fallacy #5
“Canadian Copyright” Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) by laurelrusswurm
“The Statute of Anne” is in the public domain, scan found at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law
[an expanded comment made on Internet Evolution]
Even the most cursory study of history reveals that both of these state imposed monopolies have done more harm than good. How is it that we understand that monoplies are bad for us, yet swallow the idea they are somehow good when it comes to intellectual property?
For copyright, part of it is because the word itself implies it is a “right”, rather than a monopoly.
And the other part is the myth that copyright makes sure that creators get paid. Although some creators get paid nominal amounts sporadically, and a tiny percentage of star creators do well out of copyright, just enough goes to creators to help perpetuate the myth. The true beneficiaries are the few large powerful corporations that were built on the copyright monopoly, and, sadly, the copyright collectives. Although began with the best of intentions, today’s copyright collectives look out for their own interests first, before those of the creators they are supposed to safeguard.
Today the patent system is so corrupt we have had fire, the wheel, genetic material and mathematical equations “protected” by patents. Equally absurd, letters of the alphabet (R) and common words like face and book “protected” by trademark law (the third pillar of the IP Triumvirate).
The real purpose of patents and copyright is to establish and protect business monopoly, so businesses can make unreasonable profits, which can be achieved through stifling competitors who want to innovate. Thanks in no small part to today’s free press [the Internet], we are seeing more and more how effectively patents and copyright can be used to squelch innovation.
Corporate interests don’t *want* innovation unless they profit from it.
You know what they say, if you give a corporation a cookie . . .
When I attended a few days of Byron Sonne’s preliminary hearing last year I met his parents and a few of his friends. But not Byron, since he had been denied bail and was in still in custody. I only saw him ushered in and out of the court room in handcuffs. And it was clearly breaking his mother’s heart that she wasn’t allowed to talk to him even though he was only a few feet away.
Although we corresponded, I never actually met Byron until I attended the first day of the closing arguments at his trial on Thursday. Byron warned me that the Crown’s closing argument would try to make him look bad, yet it seemed to me Crown Attorney Nadeau spent a great deal of time proving the hollowness of her case.
“To begin, if you’re taking anyone’s life, and reducing it to a number of exhibits, there’s not going to be a unifying theme.”
— Joe Di Luca
The Crown has the masses of documents on computers seized in Byron’s home, including computer “bookmarks”, the names of files posted to torrent sites, and Byron’s words and images posted on the internet, in email, electronic mailing lists, IRC chats and even more publicly in forums like Twitter and Flickr.
And the Crown had the testimony of Dr. Anderson, an expert witness who knows how to transform common household chemicals into explosives. Nor is there any argument Byron Sonne had a home laboratory which included chemicals that could be used to make explosives.
One chemical cited with trepidation was potassium permanganate. Like the Crown Attorney, I didn’t have a chemistry set growing up, so my own experience with chemistry is limited to baking. But my husband’s parents bought him a chemistry set when he was ten years old, and one of the standard chemicals it came with was potassium permanganate.
Another thing that concerned the Crown was that Byron removed chemicals he purchased from their packaging and stored them in his home laboratory without marking them with warning labels.
I have no trouble understanding taking materials out of original packaging because I do the same thing. When I buy beads to hand craft Christmas ornaments, the first thing I do when I get them home is take them out of the packaging and store them with my other craft supplies.
The second concern strikes me as being a little ridiculous. Byron’s laboratory was in his home, not some place frequented by random members of the public requiring supervision or warning. The only other person resident in the home was Byron’s wife, who would have been well aware that the lab contained dangerous chemicals.
Dr. Anderson can only testify that it was possible the chemicals could be made into explosives. But in and of themselves, none of the chemicals Byron had, in the quantities he had, were illegal. If the only possible use for any of them was bomb creation, wouldn’t they have been banned?
Dr. Anderson is an expert, of course, because as the head of Military Engineering for Defence Research and Development Canada, he spends his days figuring out which ordinary household products can be turned into dangerous bombs. Expert or no, I can’t imagine that this wouldn’t also lead to bias on the good doctor’s part. Clearly, Byron isn’t the only one interested in chemistry.
“We have to start with the presumption of innocence. There is a human tendency to look at narrative and make the facts fit. We must guard against that.”
— Joe Di Luca
Finally the Crown rested, and Joe Di Luca began to speak in Byron’s defence, beginning with the presumption of innocence, an integral element of our criminal justice system. He talked about how easy it is to overlook this presumption in any prosecution. (As has clearly happened here.)
Christopher Olah’s notes are far superior to mine, so I very much recommend his notes for a good unofficial summation of Mr. Di Luca’s excellent defence argument.
Mr Di Luca argued that Byron was telling the truth all the time. (The Crown argument relies on his truthfulness only when convenient for the Crown case.) The Crown has no trouble accepting that Byron is aware law enforcement might be listening, and that he has the skills necessary to proceed covertly. Yet he didn’t.
Byron made purchases using his own name and credit card. Openly.
Mr. Di Luca points out that as the G20 approached, Byron publicly told people that he wanted to monitor the police, and document and disseminate the results. Talking to friends, acquaintances and strangers, making security presentations, using IRC chats, email, Twitter, YouTube, Byron’s stated intent was testing the system, or “tickling the dragon.”
And as Mr. Di Luca so eloquently put it:
“And he did tickle it, and it breathed fire all over him,
and now he’s before this court.”
In the days leading up to the G20, Mr. Di Luca points out that Byron was not combining chemicals into explosives, but instead walking the fence line, taking photographs of G20 security cameras and drawing the police attention that resulted in his arrest.
But for me, the Perry Mason moment was when Mr. Di Luca asked,
“Why would Mr. Sonne engage in making four different kinds of explosives?”
— Joe Di Luca
If Byron ever had any intention of bombing the G20, why would he need four different types of explosive material? Each would require its own elaborate and dangerous process. To actually build a bomb, any one would be more than sufficient. You might be able to make a case for two, so a second type could provide an alternate. But four? That makes no sense at all.
Unless, of course, the reason for assembling the chemicals was to search out the flaws in the system.
“Maybe, just maybe, he’s telling the truth.”
— Joe Di Luca
As the fictional Doctor House would say, “That explains everything.”
a writer’s take
I find it interesting that the Crown assumes Byron’s interest in rocketry is merely a “cover’ or a “ruse” because it appears inconsistent with other facts they have about him. As a novelist, one who has both studied and struggled with understanding human behaviour, I have to tell you that this kind of inconsistency is precisely the kind of thing that any fictional character must have in order to be believable.
Because real people are inconsistent. We all harbour ambivalence and hold mutually contradictory opinions. And our opinions can be different on different days of the week, or in alternate seasons. And the opinions we have can change based on new information, or if we are jolted by an external stimulus.
Nothing in Byron’s past — from his political dabbling, his family background, his marriage, his work, his interests, his community or his life — suggest the slightest motivation for terrorist bombing. If Byron was a fictional character, it simply would not be believable that he would step out of his comfortable life to bomb the G20 or anything else.
It is equally unbelievable in the real world.
Even if something catastrophic happened to rock his world, I still wouldn’t give these charges credence. Because of his parents. And perhaps even more, because of the support he continues to receive from his community.
The people who know him best believe in him. And that’s a fact.
The trial will resume Monday, April 2nd, at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 2-2 at 361 University Avenue, Toronto.