Posts Tagged ‘Bill C-11’
“The damage that piracy does is very deep. If left unchecked, it will really have an impact on the number and quality of movies and television shows produced.”
That sounds serious.
But is it true?
The reality is that the number and quality of movies and television shows produced by Hollywood has actually plummeted all the while American copyright terms have been “strengthened” and extended.
Over and over again.
In the 1950′s a television season ran as many as 39 episodes, but a series today is lucky to manage two dozen.
Hundreds of television channels may be available but how much of what’s there is of value? Programming created by the big television networks is often pretty awful.
It’s no longer possible to access analogue television broadcasts over the air in Canada, and I’ve happily not subscribed to cable tv for years now. “Reality TV” signalled the beginning of the end. I still watch “television”, but it comes on dvds, and I only need bother with the good stuff.
Fewer Hollywood movies are made every year, so there is far less to choose from on the big screen as well.
Consumers have a finite amount of disposable income, and competition lowers profits, so greater profits can be realized from fewer movies.
Hollywood is primarily interested in sequels and remakes because they are the safest way to make profit. Safety rarely produces good art, which is why the most interesting cinema fare seems to be produced by the independents who assume the risks, and then, if successful, find a Hollywood distribution deal.
Ironically, I haven’t seen a movie in a cinema in years. Again, there is little selection to choose from in Canada, where we’re down to a single first run theatre chain. Without competition, what’s on offer is the same everywhere.
Better (and cheaper) selection can be found in the dvd remainder bins at my local super market or video store.
what copyright does
Copyright law allows Hollywood to realize the most profit out of the least amount of product. It is, in fact, the unchecked expansion of copyright law that has proven to have the most detrimental impact on the number and quality of movies and television shows produced.
what Canada’s Bill C-11 will do
Canada’s Bill C-11 “The Copyright Modernization Act,” makes it illegal for Canadians to bypass “Technological Protection Measures” or TPMs (what the rest of the world calls “DRM”) for any reason.
If a TPM prevents you from playing the digital copy of a movie you’ve purchased on the device of your choice, and you bypass this “digital lock”, you will be breaking the law. The only way you will be able to legally view the movie on the device of your choice, would be to buy a new copy. And of course, if the device of your choice is a GNU/Linux computer, you won’t be able to play any commercial movies at all.
Bill C-11 is a real plum for the Copyright Lobby, but still, it won’t be enough to satisfy Hollywood. They want longer and stronger copyright law to reduce the depth of the cultural playing field even more, to eliminating competition and eroding the public domain through perpetual copyright.
Which is, of course, the real goal.
Canada’s majority government today passed 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 third in my C-11 Copyright Series:
“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:
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
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)
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"]
Since I am preparing my debut novel for eBook release, I’m trying not to pay attention, yet I find myself reading Russell McOrmond’s Bill C-11 Legisative Committee coverage. Russell is both Live tweeting and blogging about each meeting day. This legislation is simply too important to ignore, not just for me, as a self publishing writer, but for Canada, and the heritage and culture that is so much a part of who we are.
I can’t actually watch the proceedings myself, even though they are being broadcast online by CPAC. Beginning with cable TV coverage, CPAC has provided Canadians with a ringside seat to Canadian parliamentary proceedure since 1992. The problem is that this video is provided onsite in Windows Media Player format.
It seems I can’t watch the livestream of the actual parliamentary committee meetings because I have chosen to use free software. I don’t use Windows anymore, nor do I use any of the various Apple computers. My operating system on *this* computer is Ubuntu, and the one on my desktop computer is Trisquel.
But of course, that’s the point. Proprietary digital devices and content try to force the user to use the software or device specified by the manufacturer. Once you buy into any proprietary system, it is difficult to switch to another. In this case it’s Microsoft, although it could as easily be Apple, or Sony, or any one of a plethora of rich and powerful companies that make proprietary software and hardware.
And why not? Microsoft built the Windows Media Player, and they want people to use it in their operating system.
In the past, circumventing proprietary formats might have resulted in a voided warranty. But it seems to me that Bill C-11 will make it illegal.
I expect CPAC paid rather a lot to be able to license the Windows media player. But since Windows is still the dominant OS, it seems like a reasonable choice to reach the most people. And CPAC wants all Canadians to have access to the video they create. That’s what they do.
And CPAC understands, because it attempts to circumvent the problem by advising us to copy the link below the video into our own video player if we are having problems.
I tried that, but it didn’t work on either the Ubuntu Movie Player or Banshee Media Player. Even so, I wasn’t positive it was a proprietary issue the problem was until a friend tried to resolve it.
Apparently Flip4Mac WMV program converted the proprietary Windows video format to a proprietary Mac video format.
The other solution that CPAC offers is to use a program called VLC. Ironically I used that free software video player back when I still used Windows, but haven’t managed to get it to work in either of my gnu/linux machines.
The long and the short of it is that, because I am not able to run the proprietary Windows Media Player, I am effectively locked out of the digital government video CPAC routinely shares with Canadians.
An Illustration of Bill C-11
In a strange way this demonstrates why legal protection of TPMs — regardless of legality — is the central point of Bill C-11 that has Canadians concerned. As written, Bill C-11 would criminalize Canadians who circumvent TPMs (technical protection measures) even if we are legally entitled to access the content that is locked by these “digital locks”.
Although I’m neither a technical person or a lawyer, I think Bill C-11 would make software like the VLC player illegal in Canada because it circumvents proprietary TPMs.
And Bill C-11 will make both tools to circumvent and the act of circumvention of TPMs illegal.
It wouldn’t matter that CPAC wants to share their content with me, Microsoft would have to grant permission to convert proprietary formats into free formats, or else it would be illegal. Microsoft’s current policies indicate any such permission would be unlikely, but even if it did, the tools to circumvent the proprietary TPMs – like VLC – would be illegal, so I wouldn’t be able to do it anyway.
Lawyers like Michael Geist and Howard Knopf and tech folks like Russell McOrmond, Wayne Borean, Bob Jonkman and Cory Doctorow have said Bill C-11 would not be such a problem if TPM circumvention was only illegal if tied to copyright infringement.
the shape of things to come
But if they pass Bill C-11 as written, it will become illegal for Canadians to circumvent TPMs so we can watch our government in action. Or to back up our software, Or format shift so we can watch DVDs on MP3 players.
Depending on what TPMs manufacturers employ, it may become illegal to read public domain eBooks on our e-readers, or play DVDs that aren’t region encoded. Which would mean that independent film makers wouldn’t be able to put their original movies on DVDs. Independent musicians might be prevented from distributing their original work digitally. The range of consequences are appalling.
How long until it becomes illegal to load free software on our computers?
If Bill C-11 passes, not long at all.
[Edited for readability (replacing a bit of awkward phrasing) but content remains the same.]
Screencap cc-by 1111aether
Against DRM cc-by Nina Paley
Shared from an email I’ve just written:
The radio used to be how I discovered new music. Probably twenty years ago I stopped listening to the radio altogether because there would be maybe one song I liked an hour. So I just started listening to tapes then CDs all the time. I wore out the cassette of my favorite Huey Lewis CD “Fore” and my favorite Paul Simon “Negotiations and Love Songs,” and since replaced them on CD. Because I haven’t a device to play vinyl records, I’ve been sporadically replacing with used or remaindered CDs. Very rarely I’ll pay full price a second time, as I did to replace my favorite Don McLean 8 track tape I had as an 8 track when I was a teen.
I like CDs because I like being able to hold the physical media. I don’t trust the cloud, because I don’t have control of it. As the recent Rhapsody experience shows, things we have purchased can disappear at the distributor’s whim at any time. So services that give the customer digitally locked music aren’t anything I will buy into. I prefer to buy CDs, but it was much more economical to download all of Allison’ Crowe’s music at once.
Jamendo calls itself the n°1 platform for free legal music downloads, and I quite agree. It has become my favorite music site, and I wander around there and download music so I can hear it. There are some songs that become instant favorites, but very often my most favorite songs are the ones that grow on me through repeated listening. Back when music came on packaged on vinyl, the radio hit would lure me into buying an album, but often the B side would turn out to have the music that I grew to love the most. So I tend to listen to music a lot before I decide about it.
The first recordings that I fell madly for on Jamendo are from a group called Aló Django. These guys are fabulous. This is the group I was telling you about, where the percussion is created by the sound of the female vocalist’s dancing feet. I love this album and very much hope they do more. I tried going to their website to be able to buy a copy of their album, but I couldn’t figure out how. When you download from Jamendo you get the option of paying the artist or not; but if you’re like me and you decide if you like it, you can always go back to the page and donate via a button. One of the best things was that you don’t have to use PayPal, but can choose something called Ogone instead.
I’ve read that an estimated 25% of the music on Jamendo is Creative Commons Attribution only, which means you can use it in any way you like. The other 75% has the range of licenses up to the most restrictive, where you are only licensed to download it for personal use. I’m at the point where I won’t waste my time even listening to music that I would not be allowed to use to score a home movie, so i mostly only download music licensed CC-by or CC by-sa
Josh Woodward‘s site has a lot of content. He’s been engaging with fans and working to develop his music in the public eye for quite a time. You can read his blog, study his lyrics or download his music.
There is a page to download everything free or stream if you like. One of the most awesome things is that he also provides all the music in instrumental versions; I listened to these when writing because the lyrics don’t get in the way of finding my own words.
If you decide you like the music enough to want to support the possibility of more, you can buy it from itunes, or buy CDs. I think his CD sales idea is brilliant… “name your own price”
My favorite Josh Woodward song right now is Let It In, possibly because of the combination of the vintage pop sound with dark lyrics. I have no doubt that this song will seep into one of my novels
Josh Woodward’s Sunny Side of the Street album is fun because of the juxtaposition of cheery music and twisted lyrics (f’rinstance, one about a stalker, “Chainsaw” Etc.
And another favorite of mine is the very sweet love song The Handyman’s Lament. I find I can put on all his music and just let it play, and it doesn’t get boring.
I have been listening to Allison Crowe a lot since being introduced to her music while I was writing Inconstant Moon, and I just don’t get tired of her. You can find all of her CC music on Jamendo, but when she covers something like Aretha’s I never loved a man (the way I love you) or Annie’s Why she can’t CC it because of copyright law. (Annie Lennox has long been one of my favorite singer/songwriters, but I have to say I prefer Allie’s cover of Why.)
You can buy Allison Crowe’s music as CDs or as downloads in any format you like on her site, but there is also a page of covers she’s done, some just taped in her living room etc., but as far as I can tell you can only listen to these specials as streaming music.
Because Allison Crowe releases her own material CC people can use it to score home movies and not-for-profit videos, and fan compilations, which is fabulous. A song I hope to get permission to use for my Inconstant Moon book trailer is Skeletons and Spirits. I think it would suit my visuals very well, particularly because of the song’s playfully spooky undertone, tinged with the “battle of the sexes” vibe to the piece. Fingers crossed.
For me, CC downloads give me the chance to listen to music like I used to do on the radio, knowing if I want to use something to score a home movie I don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for copyright infringement. And when I find myself listening to it all the time then I can buy some.
Just going to Allison Crowe’s site just now to get you the links, I noticed that she has a new album out, I’ve been so busy with my noveling that I had no idea. Well, that’ll be a good place to spend some birthday money “
— exerpted from an email
I just thought this was worth sharing.
I don’t much like copyright law, but at the same time I don’t believe in breaking laws. I think bad laws should be stopped before they are passed, or changed if they are passed anyway.
My thought is that we need to stop supporting “cultural industries” that stifle cultural expression and penalize personal sharing. I can’t stop liking the music I grew up listening to; Huey, Annie, Paul, Don… but I am less likely to stumble across their new material unless they stop releasing music under unalloyed restrictive copyright. Sharing is better.
Still, my attitude toward the copyright laws we have has been one of live and let live. If the big and powerful culture industries choose not to change their ways, refusing to treat creators and fans substantially better to reflect the decreased costs (and increased profits) brought about by digital evolution and the Internet, that’s their business. But I don’t have to support them. I don’t have to buy their albums. Certainly not new. Maybe in the remainder bins…
Creators now have ways and means of going it alone.
The music industry has long been the worst of the “culture industries” as the distribution companies known as record labels coerced creators to hand over their copyright as the price of getting access to a wide audience.
Today’s music industry is doing amazingly well, as more artists are recording and distributing their own work independently. It’s funny, when you listen to Indie music you can tell it apart. It doesn’t all sound the same like what they play on the radio. Of course the “Music Industry” ~ in Canada the mainstream music CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association) recently changed it’s name to Music Canada ~ is less than thrilled with the Indie incursions.
A few years ago This Magazine published the statistic that 30% of the Canadian recording industry had gone independent. Before technical advances in equipment allowed the cost of digital production to drop through the floor and the advent of the Internet, CRIA controlled 99% of the recording Industry. So it is no wonder that they are not pleased. It is much easier to prosper with absolute control of the market.
With today’s technology, creators no longer have to give away their copyright to a corporation that may or may not make them into a star, but will deliver them into indentured servitude.
Instead of changing the way they do business, CRIA, or Music Canada, as they now want to be called, is pushing for Bill C-11, because this law will counteract the technological advances that have ushered in a cultural golden age.
What Music Canada calls “piracy” — personal sharing — actually helps sell their music. Do you buy music by artists you’ve never heard? Me either.
So it doesn’t seem reasonable that they would really want to stop personal sharing. But they do. Because “piracy” makes a good excuse to pass legislation like C-11. The “cultural industries” want to stop independent creators, because Indie creators pose the real threat to the old way of doing business. Apparently it is easier to lobby for laws that will protect your business than to adapt your way of business to work with new technology.
The reason I oppose the passage of Bill C-11 is that I have no doubt it will lead to suppression of Independent digital content and its distribution. (See this week’s Jesse Brown Audio Podcast #116: MegaMutiny) And that will be bad for me as an independent Canadian creator, but even worse for Canadian culture.
In the meantime, I’ve been taking tons of photos of holiday decorations for years…. I’m sure there is a Christmas video in there somewhere… just as I’m sure a track from Allie’s “Tidings” would make a good score
note: I’ve made a few copyedit tweaks for grammar, not content
Yesterday was Christopher Plummer’s birthday, and I found myself writing this Christopher Plummer and Copyright a Tumblr. post.
Have you every noticed how much publicity material is labeled with
© Copyright ~ All Rights Reserved
I am at the point where I will not include any images in my blogs that lack license information.
Why on earth would I reproduce any promotional material ~ why should I plug your art show, book, movie, music, film premiere, marketplace or anything else, if doing so could result in a fine or takedown?
I have become hyper sensitive in regard to copyright issues, since real or perceived copyright violations can result in a DMCA takedown ~ or worse ~ if these laws like our own Canadian Bill C-11 passes.
If you include original art on promotional material in future without using a Creative Commons License or something similar I simply won’t use it.
In the past, I might have shared promotional material even though it did not have a license explicitly allowing its use, so long as it it didn’t specify ‘copyright all rights reserved’ either. Once The American SOPA (Stop Online Piracy) and the Canadian Bill C-11 come into effect, I will no longer do that on any blog or website under my control without explicit license permission.
Because the price is simply too high.
The impending Bill C-11, “the Copyright Modernization Act” makes me very nervous. I’m a writer, not not a lawyer, nor a reporter, but I’m sure I will be blogging about this in the days to come.
Naturally I was very interested in Jesse Brown’s interview with the University of Ottawa’s Professor Michael Geist, who is unquestionably an authority on Canadian Copyright Law. I started put to transcribe this podcast for myself, but then it seemed silly not to share, since Jesse Brown is cool enough to license his podcasts with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5).
I have added links where appropriate, and I cleaned it up (expunging “ums” not expletives). Feel free to listen to the original Podcast at TVO while reading along. [Note: Any transcription errors are my own.]
Okay, quick show of hands… Who is against the part of bill C-11 where it says that if you break a digital lock for any reason you are breaking the law?
Okay we’ve got the Liberal Party,
we’ve got The NDP,
we’ve got a bunch of Associations,
The Canadian Association of Research Libraries,
The Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright,
The Council of Ministers of Education,
Documentary Organization of Canada,
Canadian Library Association,
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association,
The Canadian Federation of Students,
The Canadian Teachers Federation,
The Canadian Council of Archives,
The Retail Council of Canada,
The Canadian Consumer Initiative,
The Provincial Resource Center for the Visually Impaired,
The Canadian Historical Association, and, oh yeah, Canadians.
Just about every Canadian who bothered to chime in about this said they did not like the digital locks provision.
Okay. So that’s one side of it.
Now put up your hand if you like the idea that breaking a digital lock for any reason should be a crime.
Just The Conservative Party of Canada.
The thing is, that’s sort of the only hand that matters.
They have a majority, they can kind of do what they want. And they’re gonna.
Bill C-11 as it stands, is probably going to be a law pretty soon. And now it’s time to talk about what that means.
And who better to help out with that than Professor Michael Geist. Michael, welcome back to the show.
Bill C-11 is being debated in parliament, we’ve got the other parties coming out against it, we’ve got the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights encouraging people to come out against this… is it just too late? I mean, you heard Minister Moore on this program. He did not sound like a man who is going to change anything fundamental about this. Is the digital locks issue set in stone?
I think pretty close to that. At least that’s certainly what the minister has been saying, and you know it’s a new environment of course politically where we’ve got a majority government. And while it’s heartening to see how the opposition parties have coalesced around the digital lock issue, unequivocally, that they can’t support the bill with the digital lock provisions in the way that they are currently structured, it seems to me at this point in time that it may be past the point of no return. The Government making clear that its not looking to make fundamental changes to digital lock provisions, or frankly much else in the law.
It’s kind of bittersweet, isn’t it? I mean the other parties have never been clearer, they’ve never understood the issues better… they’ve never been more forthright in what they don’t like about it and what they can’t support — at the moment when their opinion matters least.
I think that’s right. I mean I think it is good there is that growing recognition within the Canadian Public, where you see so many groups that have come out to express concern, as well as politically, at the same time if we hold the government to their word that they’re not gonna make any big changes, there are of course some good things in Bill C-11 as well.
Around fair dealing, around the role of Internet providers, around statutory damages, some of those issues have been subject to very misleading attacks by a number of groups, and so I think it’s heartening that they haven’t resonated. In fact, I’d go even further, its clear if you see the reaction from the opposition parties, that they really haven’t picked up on many of those issues either. I think they recognize that the government actually does strike a pretty good balance on many of those other issues. The one place where the government hasn’t done so is on the digital locks and its disappointing we’ve come this far and there is that opportunity with so much awareness of the problem, frankly its just as disappointing that a fix here is relatively easy. One that would allow for compliance with our international obligations that would be consistent with what we’ve seen in a lot of other countries that would give legal protection for digital locks for those that want it, but at the same time would respect the rights of users, whether we’re talking about consumers, educators, or even other businesses.
I brought it up directly with the minister. I said why not just make it illegal to break a digital lock if you’re breaking it for the purpose of infringing, and he pretty much ignored the point.
well, there isn’t a solid answer to it. As you may know, I was able to obtain under the Access To Information Act, both the internal clause review of the bill, as well as well as fifty pages of government speaking points. And what you find is there isn’t a good answer from the government, other than ‘we think it’s the right balance’. But when you start pointing to significant issues that exist within the bill, real problems, there isn’t a good answer, you know.
Is there a good answer to why those with perceptual disabilities – the blind – may find themselves locked out of works where there is a digital lock, because the current exception that’s in Bill C-11 is so restrictive talking about not being able to unduly impair a TPM – a technological protection measure – such that the blind find themselves locked out. We’ve seen a number of those groups speak out about that issue. I don’t think there is a good answer for that.
Is there a good answer for why researchers who aren’t in the narrow scope of security research, may find themselves locked out, because there’s an exception for security research, but not research more generally. I don’t think there’s a good answer for that.
Is there a good answer for why, in the United States there’s now an exception, specifically for picking the digital lock on a DVD in certain circumstances, but we don’t find something similar in Canada. I don’t think there’s a good answer for that.
And I guess ultimately if there a good answer why many countries New Zealand. Switzerland, and many others that have recognized that you can be compliant with the WIPO Internet treaties and link it directly to actual copyright infringement, well no, there isn’t a good answer for that either. Which is why the government typically simply goes back to talking points which said this is our balance, take it or leave it.
We needn’t play naive here; we know what the real reason is. It may satisfy WIPO to have a more lenient approach to legitimate breaking of digital locks, but clearly our government does not believe that it will satisfy the Americans and they’re going to bully forth with this.
Lets assume that they do, it’s pretty likely that’s gonna be the case, what happens next. What are the copyright implications of the Supreme Court of Canada finding that linking is not publishing. What happens when you talk about an ISO Hunt type website that links to torrent files that might be infringing, but itself does no infringing. Or for that matter Google through which you can find a lot of torrent files that contain copyright infringing material.
Right. well, let’s start by saying that I think this decision that involved p2p.net and the potential liability for linking was a great decision from the Supreme Court of Canada and I think one of the things that we’re seeing from the court is a recognition of the real critical nature that the Internet plays for freedom of expression more generally, and what it’s willing to do, and we certainly see it in this case and I think we see it in some of the court’s other discussion, is that they are really willing to give specific protection for the speech that can occur online because it recognizes just how integral it has become for so many people, certainly for communications for culture and commerce but for basic freedom of expression and to protect those rights that are so central and fundamental within a democratic society. In recognizing that the Internet itself and that activity on the Internet has to be protected.
There are some pretty big implications there. I mean when you think for example of some of the proposals in other countries that have sought to kick people off the Internet based on a number of allegations of infringement. That’s to say you take that kind of proposal which is not on the table right now in Canada, but we know some of the rights holders would like to see it brought to Canada, this is a Supreme Court of Canada that you get the sense they would simply laugh that out of court. That it would not withstand any sort of Charter scrutiny given the strong link that it sees between the Internet itself and freedom of expression. So I think in that sense it’s very good.
More directly or more immediately we’ve had a number of proposals put forward that seek compensation for essentially the act of linking to copyright content. Through Access Copyright for example. Their proposal has argued that linking to content may fall within its tariff, as though we’re dealing with some sort of reproduction of the work. I think if you take a look at the analysis that we’ve had from the Supreme Court here, where it’s very clear that it does not believe that a link amounts to a reproduction, or a republication rather, in the context of defamation , I think a similar kind of analysis might well come into play if you start talking about if from a copyright context.
I mean, they were really explicit. You know, like (A) Linking is not publishing and (B) if you were to deem it so, the Internet wouldn’t work. How can you hold people accountable for what lies on the other side of a link, it can change and people have no control over that.
The Court totally understood both how information is disseminated online,how the Internet functions, and that central role that linking plays. So in that sense it was very good. And note that there are three decisions, there’s the one that’s adopted by the majority of the court, and then there are two concurring decisions each actually adopts different standards when it comes to potential liability for linking. So all agree that as a basic premise linking shouldn’t bring liability but then they get into the question of what if. Under what circumstances might linking rise to the level of potential liability, and the one that the Supreme Court ultimately adopts or that the majority of the court adopts is the one that has by far the highest threshold. One that seeks to protect as much as possible that freedom of expression online, saying yes at the end of the day you still go after the person who is responsible for the defamatory speech, that’s where responsibility lies, not with someone who has linked to this content.
Okay, but how do we reconcile that with Bill C-11 which states that if a website’s primary purpose is to enable copyright infringement it doesn’t matter whether or not that site itself infringes, it is subject, it’s breaking the law, it’s breaking Bill C-11. So I mean it seems that the precedent that’s just been set is in some sort of conflict with that piece of legislation.
I don’t know if its in conflict, but obviously its not wholly consistent. I mean what the government is trying to do in C-11 is establish a very tough rule that goes after these sites, the so-called ‘enabler’ sites.
I’ve argued that we already may have laws that can deal effectively with those sites. In fact there is already an ongoing lawsuit the Industry has brought against ISO Hunt and so there is still issues around authorizing infringement which apply whether or not we’re dealing per se with a link We could get into a debate as to whether or not links alone are enough to authorize infringement, but where you’ve got a site that seems to be by its design designed to support infringing activities, the case that would be brought would probably involve more than just pointing to the linking activity but rather the structure of the search, the way in which it has been designed to try to rise to the level of authorizing others to infringe. The truth is, we don’t fully know yet where courts would land on these issues. On the enabler provision it’s still not a part of the law, and in the cases against ISO Hunt the Industry has for so long dragged its feet seeming content to score points for the politicians by saying Canadian Law is Weak, we need legal changes, although quietly on the side, continuing to pursue legislative legal remedies using the law as it currently stands.
Now, there’s another part of this where the court’s may find issue with C-11. There’s a possibility if a case were to be brought to the Supreme Court of Canada that was arguing that the prohibition on breaking digital locks is a violation of our Charter Rights, the court might find that is true. Is there any indication of where they would stand on that? Do you think that a precedent setting case like that is likely once this bill becomes law?
It’s an interesting issue and I don’t think so much that it is a matter of Charter Rights but rather a violation if the Constitution in terms of the division of powers. And the argument here, and I think its a good one, is that the way the Constitution is structured, Copyright is the responsibility of the Federal Government but Property and Civil Rights fall to the Provinces. So long as you’ve got provisions that are clearly about copyright, this is something that obviously falls within Federal jurisdiction and they can legally legislate.
The problem the Government may face when it comes to the digital lock provisions as they are currently structured, is that they seem to be far more about property rights, what people can and can’t do with their personal property that they’ve purchased than it is about copyright. In fact, as part of that Access to Information request that I obtained from the government, there was a clause by clause analysis of the legislation, and the government is very very clear in that you don’t need an actual copyright infringement to violate the digital lock rules, and the traditional defenses that exist within the Copyright Act also don’t apply when somebody breaks the digital lock rules. So if we’ve got provisions here where we’re not talking about traditional offenses under the Copyright Act and we’re not talking about traditional defenses under the Copyright Act, that doesn’t sound very much like copyright at all.
Give me an example. Are we talking about like if I were to break a digital lock on a DVD or if I were to unlock a cell phone how does that have anything to do with copyright, is that what you mean?
That’s exactly what it is. We’re talking about access in the case, let’s say, of the DVD and its the Copyright law not the Access Act, and so the Copyright Act deals specifically with copying and reproduction of works. This ventures far beyond that into people’s rights to access materials, in this case the use of the property they have purchased. The copyright holder of course owns the right in the underlying work, the intellectual property that exists within the DVD, But you still do have some rights over the physical DVD that you’ve purchased and the notion that one can exclude access part of that is pretty far afield from conventional copyright.
Now if the government would follow the recommendations that we’ve seen from so many groups, that say create a clear linkage between breaking a digital lock and an intent to infringe, well then it does start sounding again like copyright, because now we are talking about people who are breaking copyright rules and the digital locks are there to support those basic policies about insuring the copyright act is effective.
But the way the government has structured the law right now, is that they’ve moved pretty far away from traditional copyright, it really is into the realm of traditional property rights. It’s all about what consumers can and can’t do with their property irrespective of whether someone might be infringing copyright or even irrespective of whether or not they’ve got an appropriate defense of fair dealing or otherwise. And so I think it is entirely possible once this becomes operational, and we face the prospect of some actions brought against people, that we’ll see groups seek to clarify whether or not the provisions as currently structured even pass muster from a constitutional perspective.
And this is not sort of you know, lawyeringness, or a kind of niggling detail, our rights over our private property are pretty essential in any democracy. These are constitutional rights. The circumstances of where this would get fought I suppose would be if you found the right case, say a blind person who buys a book that is not available as an audio book They break DRM in order to feed it into a text to speech program so they can actually enjoy what they bought. There is no question of illegal reproduction, certainly not commercial, That might be a case that you know some interested lawyer who knows about these things. maybe yourself might actually make an issue out of it and take it to the courts and then that would challenge the bill itself.
I think that would challenge those specific provisions. So I would seek to argue that the particular provisions around digital locks are unconstitutional because they are ultra vires the federal government. In other words, provisions that involve property and civil rights, and do not directly involve copyright, are beyond the jurisdiction of the purview of the Federal Government.
There’s an easy way of course to fix that and make this legislation a bit more bulletproof against a constitutional challenge and that’s to create a link to copyright. As we’ve been discussing now, despite the fact that so many groups and now all the opposition parties have been calling for exactly that kind of remedy the government has been loath to move in that direction.
What will be the impact for average Canadians in the period of time shortly following the passing of this law. Are we going to see the same kinds of lawsuits that, I mean, Minister Moore like to say that the Industry is done with that kind of lawsuits that the Recording Industry Association filed against, I don’t know, 30,000 individual file sharers, teenagers, single moms… Of course the movie industry seems to be moving in that direction. The Hurt Locker down loaders faced lawsuits like that. Are we going to see that in Canada? Is that how this is going to hit home for people who have not paid the closest attention to this up ’til now?
Well, you know, the odd thing about this legislation is that the way that it gets promoted is so often around things like peer to peer file sharing but C-11 has very little to do with peer to peer file sharing.
The practical reality is that similar legislation has been in place in the United States since before the advent of Napster and so the notion that suddenly new digital lock protection are going to provide the kind of protections that are necessary to eradicate infringement online is just patently false. And I think everybody knows it. I spent sometime this week at a conference with a series of European experts are here and no one’s talking about digital locks. In fact in Europe a number of countries have implemented it in different ways, in some ways different than the United States has implemented it. Digital locks aren’t ultimately about dealing with peer to peer and they’re ultimately not about these sorts of lawsuits.
And so, once the legislation is passed, we’re going to see a real impact. Whether its in education, or in other places where the rules won’t be clear, that many of the traditional user rights or exceptions, around research, or around private study, or in criticism review, potentially even around education itself, if that becomes part of the law with C-11. There, once there’s a digital lock in place, those rights cease to apply and I think that’ll have a pretty dramatic impact.
Now, there’s a lot of other good things that will come into the legislation, in terms of clarifing legalization of recording television shows and back up copies. Extending or expanding some of the fair dealing rights. I think all of that’s great. But at the same time those digital lock rules will have that immediate impact. As for the prospect of lawsuits, the Industry stood up before the committee just a few months ago, just before the bill died, and was unequivocal when asked directly about the prospect of new file sharing lawsuits against individuals, and said they have no intention of doing so and just within a number of months, we now know that lawsuits have been filed with three major ISPs in Canada, and of course if those are successful, even with the changes to the statutory damage provisions in the bill, even with changes that create a cap for non commercial infringement, the door is still open to see more of these kinds of suits.
You know, I feel that most Canadians, for personal use, are going to continue to do whatever they were doing before, if in fact they are aware of this bill is a law or will soon be a law or not. It’s really at the institutional level, the universities and companies that just want to avoid liability in any way that they’re going to stop doing a lot of things that they have been doing.
That’s absolute;y right. And in fact I’ve been asked many times since both Bill C-32 and C-11 about that ability to enforce and I think it is true that practically speaking, most individuals are going to be very tough to stop them from picking a digital lock, the tools are out there, even though this will make the distribution of those tools illegal, and further, its arguable that there are no real damages here either, especially if they are simply seeking to access their own works that they purchased.
But where the rubber will hit the road, where the enforcement will not only be possible but probable, and where it will have a real impact, is frankly, as usual, on the good guy. On the people who are actually going out and buying licensing, trying to make use of materials, and they suddenly find now that where there are locks there are going to be restrictions.
Where you’ve got someone who is sight impaired who wants to ensure they’ve got access if the publisher isn’t making it accessible, and where its behind the lock, they’ll be prohibited from going after it, and there will be large institutions that might want to try to do that on behalf of their users they won’t be doing it.
In larger education institutions where you’ve got teachers and students who want to engage in remix and multimedia presentations and they need to be able to break a digital lock in order to do that, things that are legal as the law currently stands, that too will stop, because the guidelines I think will be unequivocal when presented within those institutions they want to stay on the side of the law and what they will do is make it clear that they can’t engage in that activity.
And so the sad part of all this, one of the sad parts about all this, is that where this will hit most directly, are on the people who are the most likely to want to be compliant with the law. And its in the one place where there are some of the best advantages of using these kinds of new technologies and providing new levels of access, new kinds of creativity and yey what the government is going to be doing
stopping some of it dead in its tracks.
Well, this is soon going to be over and then it’s just gonna be beginning.
I think that’s right. It’s the beginning in terms of some of the legal questions and issues about the bill, and incredibly, it is very likely to all start again with a new piece of legislation now on IP enforcement, that may well be introduced weeks after this piece of legislation passes through the parliamentary process.
I hope you’ll be willing to take us through that when the time comes. Thank you as always for your time, Michael
It’s my pleasure, Jesse. Take care.
Search Engine is produced by me with help from Luke Simcoe and a community of listeners who, unlike me, know their Charter from their Constitution. Email me at email@example.com Check out the blog, its at t-v-o-slash-searchengine The videos which are going up all the time go up at YouTube-dot-com-slash-t-v-o-searchengine and I’m on Twitter @jessebrown
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