Archive for May 2012
“Wasn’t the whole purpose of copyright to allow artists, musicians, and authors to make a living?”
Although the privilege of copyright was granted to writers (and later extended to other creators), they had a very limited ability to make copies. A writer could copy the manuscript by hand and sell copies to anyone they met. The printers had the expertise and the control of the expensive equipment, so right from the start the creators were disadvantaged, writers had no choice but to assign this “right” to the distributors.
Although the supposed justification for copyright is to allow creators to make a living, in practice the monopoly allowed the Stationers (or Booksellers, Printers, Publishers &tc.) to generate revenue and control publishing. Copyright succeeded so well for so long by giving the appearance of existing to benefit the creators. Creator support ensures that the market – the audience – honours copyright.
As time went on, creators wound up with ever decreasing power over this supposed privilege, while the distributors — now called publishers — accrued more and greater power, which they used to dictate terms to creators. The problem was that printing was only part of it; the distribution network was the other side of the equation.
More and more of our cultural pursuits have come under the “protection” of copyright. The music recording industry is the worst for creators, as many (most?) musicians were forced to give up their copyright in order to secure a recording contract. For all but the biggest stars, the effect is to thrust most recording artists into indentured servitude. Because of this, more and more musicians choose the independence now possible with affordable recordings and Internet distribution. Before the Internet, CRIA controlled the recording industry in Canada; but 30% of the Canadian Industry was independent by 2010. It isn’t piracy that threatens the legacy distributors, it’s competition.
In today’s Canada we also have a proliferation of copyright collectives which have devolved onto yet another “middleman” with a hand in the copyright till.
The only way for creators to access the funds owing them as a result of the copyright monopoly is by way of copyright collectives, which is why copyright collectives lobby for stronger, longer copyright.
Perhaps initially these collectives actually represented the interests of creators, but judging from the lobbying they engage in today, it seems pretty clear these collectives are primarily interested in their own needs.
Making it appear that copyright benefits the creators is a great way to have creators support
Both the technological revolution ushered in by plummeting copying costs and the Internet threaten the corporations and copyright collectives. Corporate interests want to regain absolute control of their industries while copyright collectives want to regain absolute control of their respective workforce. Both are threatened with obsolescence due to rapid growth of independent creators that threaten the old fashioned business models.
In response to this threat both special interest groups have been lobbying governments around the world to use legislative means to turn back the hands of time. Canada’s draft copyright legislation new copyright legislation will vest absolute power in Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) and give in to these demands with Bill C-11, which is ironically called “The Copyright Modernization Act.”
[This is the second 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.
This is the second in my C-11 Copyright Series:
Nora Young interviewed CIPPIC’s David Fewer on her CBC Spark program, and one of the points that they discuss is the worry that TPMs (digital locks/DRM) will stop Canadians from doing “what we what we would ordinarily be allowed to do under fair dealing.”
But it is more than that.
Fair dealing is only part of it. Under Bill C-11 TPMs will stop us from doing things we are legally allowed to do, including things that have nothing to do with fair dealing.
If it is illegal to circumvent TPMs, Canadians will be prevented from accessing content that is in the public domain, or work that has been licensed to share. This is already happening now.
As a writer, I’ve been appalled that books in the public domain have been locked behind TPMs. Bill C-11 will make it illegal to circumvent this kind of TPM. Even using a pen and paper to hand copy the words of a public domain work like The Happy Prince if TPMs are present, will be copyright infringement – and illegal – when Bill C-11 becomes law.
Bill C-11 will make it possible for Microsoft to prevent people from replacing the Windows Operating System that comes preloaded on most computers with free software of our choice ~ like Linux. So Bill C-11 could very easily be used to kill free software in Canada.
Even worse, if it illegal to circumvent TPMs, it will be possible to prevent Canadians from accessing content that is our own.
When my sister first got Windows 7, the software wouldn’t allow her to transfer photos of her own kids, from her own digital camera, to her own computer. That’s a real life example of how TPMs can go terribly wrong. Because the assumption behind TPMs is that we are all infringing copyright, so the default is always maximum. Had Bill C-11 been the law at that time, my sister would have had to break the law to circumvent the TPMs (that wrongly accused her of copyright infringement) to transfer her own photographs — which she unquestioningly owned the copyright for — from her own digital camera to her own computer — both devices being her own physical property.
Just now I’m reading Lawrence Lessig’s “Free Culture,” where he writes about the MPAA argument that Intellectual Property should enjoy the same level of protection that physical property does.
“Creative property owners must be accorded the same rights and protection resident in all other property owners in the nation. That is the issue. That is the question. And that is the rostrum on which this entire hearing and the debates to follow must rest“
— Jack Valenti, MPAA president quoted in Lawrence Lessig’s “Free Culture”
But Bill C-11 goes far beyond equality, and clearly tips the balance so our physical property rights are overwhelmingly quashed in favour of the rights of Intellectual Property owners.
So it isn’t a very big jump to see that Bill C-11 will have the capacity to suppress independent creators from releasing our own work, because we won’t have the keys to the digital locks.
Enabling technology to enforce the control of copyright means that the control of copyright is no longer defined by balanced policy.
— Lawrence Lessig, “Free Culture“
Not much, but some. Bill C-11 hasn’t passed — yet.
Call or write your own MPP, whose job is to represent you in parliament. If you don’t know who that is, you can find out here: [Find your MP]
What you write doesn’t have to be long and involved, or make terribly brilliant arguments. In my experience it is unlikely to be read or listened to. The best we can expect is a form letter response that doesn’t respond to what we’ve written anyway, probably months from now. But if enough of us write, they might listen because they can all count. It needn’t be long, but it must be now.
This is a sample letter:
Dear Mr. Albrecht:
As a constituent in your riding, I ask you to vote against Bill C-11 The Copyright Modernization Act.
Bill C-11′s Technological Protection Measures are neither in my best interests, nor yours. If passed as it is, this law will infringe on my rights, both as a digital property owner and a content creator. Thank you for your support.
Laurel L. Russwurm
Note: Feel free to copy and adopt any of the many arguments I have proposed throughout this blog (search C-11) as I hereby waive the attribution for this ~ if anything I’ve written will help your own letter, please use it.
You can also write to the Bill C-11 Legislative Committee:
Bill C-11 Legislative Committee Chair: Glenn Thibeault, NDP
Dean Del Mastro, Conservative, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Paul Calandra, Conservative Parliamentary Secretary to the Heritage Minister
Mike Lake, Conservative Parliamentary secretary to the Industry Minister
Scott Armstrong, Conservative
Peter Braid, Conservative
Phil McColeman, Conservative
Rob Moore, Conservative
Charlie Angus, NDP Digital Affairs and Ethics Critic
Tyrone Benskin, NDP Heritage and Cultural Industries Critic
Andrew Cash, NDP
Pierre Nantel, NDP
Geoff Regan, Liberal Critic for Consumer Affairs
As well, you can write to
Industry Minister The Honourable Christian Paradis
Heritage Minister James Moore
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
It is perfectly acceptable to send the same letter to all concerned, and although postal mail is taken more seriously, email is increasingly acceptable, particularly when time is of the essence.
The majority of those Canadians who took my unscientific poll understand (or think they understand) what DRM is.
Yet very few taking my poll had any idea what TPMs are.
Friday May 4th was the International Day Against DRM. Although Canada has been talking about changing copyright law for well over a decade, DRM (Digital Rights Management, or Digital Restrictions Management) isn’t even mentioned in Bill C-11, the draft legislation currently before parliament.
Interestingly enough, many Americans are just as confused by the acronym TPMs as Canadians are, because, especially in the tech sector, TPM is more often an acronym for Trusted Platform Module.
If you search for “Technical Protections Measures” on Wikipedia, you will be redirected to the “Copy Protection” page. And oddly, although people talk about “Technical Protection Measures” the language in Bill C-11 is actually “Technological protection measures.”
Wikipedia will tell you that there is no “Technological Protection Measures” page, but provides a list of search results. Unsurprisingly, the first on the list is the Digital Rights Management page, which is appropriate since “Technical Protections Measures” or TPMs are pretty interchangeable with DRM.
`Sec. 1201. Circumvention of copyright protection systems …
(3) As used in this subsection–
`(A) to `circumvent a technological measure’ means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and
`(B) a technological measure `effectively controls access to a work’ if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.
Bill C-11 defines TPMs thus:
“technological protection measure” means any effective technology, device or component that, in the ordinary course of its operation,
(a) controls access to a work, to a perform- er’s performance fixed in a sound recording or to a sound recording and whose use is authorized by the copyright owner; or
(b) restricts the doing — with respect to a work, to a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or to a sound recording — of any act referred to in section 3, 15 or 18 and any act for which remuneration is payable under section 19.
Short answer: TPM is Bill C-11 legal language for DRM.
If Bill C-11 becomes law as written, it will become illegal to circumvent DRM, even if the DRM is “protecting” work that does not infringe copyright. Work that is in the public domain. Work that qualifies as fair dealing. Work that is licensed to share. Work that doesn’t infringe copyright.
Bill C-11 will give DRM super powers in Canada.
If Bill C-11 becomes law, I expect DRM will appear on everything destined for the Canadian market.
WSIC (Waterloo Students for the Information Commons) has set up a DRM/TPM wiki
This statue is in Victoria Park, Kitchener. I like the inscription on the plinth:
VICTORIA, QUEEN, EMPRESS
A MODEL WIFE and MOTHER
BELOVED, ADMIRED, REVERED
SHE SHALL LIVE IN THE
HEARTS OF HER PEOPLE
For Mother’s Day this year, you’ll find the legendary mother surrounded by tulips.
[You can find more photos of both the statue and the park on my Visual Laurel Tumblr blog.]
In Canada we’re living in the looming shadow of Bill C-11 which will criminalize circumvention of DRM.
As a writer, I very much support the Reader’s Bill of Rights. Whether such initiatives will be able to co-exist with Bill C-11 is doubtful.
Text created by ReadersBillofRights.info which has been released under a
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cell Phone background by laurelrusswurm under a Creative Commons Attribution Unported License (CC BY3.0)
The Internet and its attendant technology has ushered in change more dramatic than any previously seen in human history. Even worse, this technological revolution has happened with blinding speed.
Even though we’ve reached a point in Canada where most of us — from toddlers to seniors — use the Internet in our daily lives, most of us don’t really understand much of what has happened to the world as a result.
And a natural human reaction is to fear what we don’t understand. Scary sounding crimes called Identity Theft and Hacking didn’t exist when I was growing up. So when we hear scary sounding words like cyberterrorists and hactivists we are scared. We don’t know what these things are, exactly, but that just makes it worse. How do you protect yourself against what you don’t understand?
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that :
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
And there has never been as good an illustration of Clarke’s third law as the Internet.
Right now there is a Private Member’s Bill before parliament called “Preventing Persons from Concealing Their Identity during Riots and Unlawful Assemblies Act.” If this passes, the Criminal Code of Canada will make it illegal for Canadians to cover our faces. Some point out that it will only be illegal for “Riots and Unlawful Assemblies.” The catch is that only the government gets to decide when a lawful assembly becomes unlawful.
Normally private member’s bills don’t get a lot of traction, even when presented by a member of a majority government. The few that do become law usually require multiple tries to get support. But this bill has sailed through first and second reading with massive support because people are afraid of masked protesters.
After all, what could be more frightening than Anonymous?
When an arch-villain of epic reach and power rises up from the magical realm of the Internet — and then successfully attacks powerful multinationals and governments — it shakes our world view.
Nothing like Anonymous has ever existed before in the history of the world. The closest example I can think of is the mythical many headed hydra; when the hero cuts one off head, two more sprout in its place.
The apparent omniscience and omnipotence of a such a group is disconcerting, as is its lack of accountability.
Who is “Anonymous”?
And why do they do the things they do?
Documentarian Brian Knappenberger has done a masterful job weaving together the stories of several members of Anonymous. His film, WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists puts a face on Anonymous.
Although some of the interview subjects utilized various methods of obscuring their identities, several don’t. As the narrative unfolds it becomes apparent that some of these have already been “outed” by the American Justice System.
Pay Pal 14 defendant Mercedes Haefer points out that the price of her online activism as a member of Anonymous she faces a prison sentence years longer than any a convicted pedophile would receive. She is one of the idealistic young people facing incredible jail sentences for what attorney Stanley Cohen characterizes as virtual sit-ins.
One of the experts interviewed in the film is McGill University’s Gabriella Coleman, currently the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy. Coleman helps make sense of Anonymous, providing insight into both the behaviour and the evolution of the decidedly non-hierarchical group.
This film was both thorough and informative. But it’s also an eminently well constructed documentary, as good as any I’ve ever seen.
see the film
In many ways, this film is a biography; Brian Knappenberger has crafted a powerful film that demystifies Anonymous.
No matter how much or how little you know about civil rights in the Internet age, WE ARE LEGION: The Story of the Hacktivists is well worth seeing.
Note: Advance Tickets for Saturday’s screening are already sold out; arrive early for “Rush” tickets.