Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘Russell McOrmond

Legal Today, Not Tomorrow? ~ Bill C-11

with 6 comments

Canadian DMCA logo

Bill C-11, Canada’s so-called “Copyright Modernization Act” has passed second reading in the House of Commons and is now before the parliamentary committee.

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.

Problem: In order to watch video in the proprietary Windows Media Player, you need to have Windows, and I don’t.

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.]

Image credits
Screencap cc-by 1111aether

Against DRM cc-by Nina Paley

Copyright Update: C-11 and ACTA

with 2 comments

Canadian DMCA logo

Fortunately Bill C-11 has not yet become law.

Yet.

Unfortunately it is only a matter of time before our majority government passes this misguided “copyright modernization” legislation currently called Bill C-11.

[This is the exact same law that was called Bill C-32 by the previous Conservative Government. Earlier incarnations were known as Bill C-61: An Act to amend the Copyright Act (by the Conservatives), and Bill C-60: An Act to amend the Copyright Act (by the Liberals).]

Although Canadians have mounted waves of opposition against each succeeding incarnation of a “Canadian DMCA,” both Liberal and Conservative Canadian Governments have attempted to pass copyright legislation that’s clearly against Canadian interests.   Initially there was only supposition that the various drafts of a “Canadian DMCA” were produced in response to American pressure.  After all, the USTR has been spreading misinformation about supposed Canadian piracy for years, in spite of the fact that the American DMCA has not stopped American digital piracy levels from being far higher than ours.   Thanks to Wikileaks it is no longer an unsubstantiated guess: the Canadian government wants only to pass a Copyright Law that will make the American Government happy.

Four different Canadian Governments led by our two traditional ruling parties have tried to accomplish this, the previous efforts failed due to a combination of opposition and politics.

But this time it is different: our majority Conservative Government can pass anything it likes.

The only possible way to stop it is for public outcry.  The problem is that most Canadians still don’t know this is happening or why it is important or what it will do.  The mainstream media coverage has not helped raise awareness because their corporate masters have a vested interest; after all, the MPAA and RIAA (through its branch plant formerly known as CRIA) have a very long reach.

TPM, DRM, Digital Locks

DRM technologies attempt to give control to the seller of digital content or devices after it has been given to a consumer. For digital content this means preventing the consumer access, denying the user the ability to copy the content or converting it to other formats. For devices this means restricting the consumers on what hardware can be used with the device or what software can be run on it.

Wikipedia: Digital rights management

The single reason that Bill C-11 will be so devastating is that it sets TPM (Technical Protection Measures) as the most powerful element of Canadian copyright law.   TPMs (also known as copy protection) are the main weapon used in the DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) arsenal, and are commonly referred to as “Digital Locks” in Canada.

Whatever you call it, it will be terrible for Canadians.   It won’t matter if a person has legally purchased a copy of an eBook,  game, a movie or music, if Canadians need to circumvent TPMs in order to read, play watch or listen to our own legal copies, we will be breaking the law.  If I want to watch a movie DVD on my Linux computer, I won’t be able to.  Linux users will be forced to switch to Apple or Windows operating systems of they want to watch their DVDs.  If I want to format shift any digital media I’ve purchased so that it will play on the device of my choosing, I won’t be able to without breaking the law.

Does this mean it will be illegal to have my printer’s ink cartridges refilled with off brand ink? Probably. I was foolish enough to buy a printer that has computer chips in its printer cartridges. The chip tells the printer not to work because a certain amount of ink has been used or the printer cartridge is too old. Bypassing that programming may well be considered circumvention of the manufacturer’s technical protection measures. After all, to be protected under the new Bill C-11 Copyright Law, TPMs won’t have to be tied to any actual copyright infringement or criminal wrongdoing.

This is not a good thing for consumers.

Once this law is passed, I imagine that it will be only a matter of time before every digital device and most software destined for the Canadian market will be tightly locked in DRM.  Further, as a self publishing Canadian writer, my further concern is also that digital locks may well be used to limit distribution of my own work.

Why did Canada sign ACTA?

The speed with which digital innovation and the Internet have set the world on end is unprecedented; even Malcolm Gladwell, one of Canada’s brightest sons doesn’t get it. So I’m inclined to think that the largest problems is that most of our government doesn’t understand the issues.

It is unreasonable to expect elected officials to understand everything. They are only human, after all, and so they can’t. What they must do, is to find out about each issue as it arises, and the fastest way to do this is to consult with the experts. The problem that has arisen is that the experts governments the world over rely on when forging laws to govern this new technology are the mainstream media. And the mainstream media has a clear and present interest in both copyright and and controlling technological innovation.

It is very possible that C-11 is intended as a law to allow Canadian compliance with the dreadful ACTA Trade Agreement.

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo

ACTA is one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet. ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small “club” of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.

ACTA, a blueprint for laws such as SOPA and PIPA, would impose new criminal sanctions forcing Internet actors to monitor and censor online communications. It is thus a major threat to freedom of expression online and creates legal uncertainty for Internet companies. In the name of trademarks and patents, it would also hamper access to generic medicines in poor countries.”

La Quadrature Du Net

Although Canadian negotiators were included in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations, sitting members of parliament and the public were deliberately kept in the dark as to what ACTA was about. Although ACTA is supposed to stand for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agrement” the prime reason for its secrecy was the copyright law provisions.

Among those who are aware of ACTA, its agenda is believed to be that of the American movie and music industries. These Industries have been investing unprecedented amounts of time and money in attempts to coerce sovereign nations around the world to enact copyright laws beneficial to their special interests.

In spite of the fact that the final round of ACTA negotiations failed to achieve consensus in the secret negotiations, some time later Canada went ahead and signed the treaty anyway. The European Parliament signed ACTA a few days after the SOPA protest, but it must pass a plenary vote this summer before it will be official.

Oh! Canada: Memo to World: Stop ACTA Now!

Stop The Canadian DMCA

NO Canadian DMCACopyright law has always been concerned with Intellectual Property, but Bill C-11 strays into the realm of physical property. A law that prevents citizens from making personal use of our own legally purchased media on the digital devices of our choices strays beyond the realm of intellectual into the realm of physical property. Making all circumvention illegal is equivalent to putting citizens in jail for breaking into our own home of we’ve inadvertently locked ourselves out.

Bill C-11 is *not* in the Canadian interest.

More information can be found in my Oh! Canada article
“Bill C-11 Backgrounder: A Brief History of the Canadian DMCA” and What to do about Bill C-11 ?

Technical Aspects: check Russell McOrmond’s Conservative Copyright Bill C-11

Legal Aspects: Michael Geist – latest post includes the video short Strombo’s Soapbox: My Take on Bill C-11

Bill C-11 Status

Keep up with the status of this problematic draft legislation by checking LEGISinfo.

Bill C-11 ~ this week’s Links #copyright

leave a comment »

Canadian DMCA logoCopyright law is in the air in Canada these days, as our government contemplates passing Bill C-11 (the draft law formerly known as Bill C-32)

If you’re wondering why there is such a fuss about copyright, and why it should matter to ordinary Canadians, this is a great place to start on the issue. The highlight of this week’s C-11 coverage was, hands down, Jesse Brown’s interview with Michael Geist.

The draft C-11 Legislation has been “read” in the House Of Commons, and has now been sent to a Legislative Committee of MPs who will now attempt to clear up any problems. Canadians can now email our concerns to the appropriate MPs.

One citizen shared the reply he received from his MP boing boing

Russell McOrmond posted an interesting article contrasting the Conservative policy on gun registration with their push for digital locks

I’ve added two new blogs to my blogroll on the basis of their recent posts regarding C11.

The Copyright Modernization Act (C-11), Digital Locks and turning ISPs into Gatekeepers One Step at a Time

and
Canada’s copyright reform bill: Desperately seeking economists (and evidence)

Michael Geist is writing “The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter” series in which he shares the stated objections of many varied opponents of the digital lock provisions of Bill C-11:


More Information

If you are looking for more information about this copyright law, you can use the search bar in my sidebar, search the Internet. The draft legislation currently known as Bill C-11 is a word for word reincarnation of what was called Bill C-32 in the last session of parliament, so searching for Bill C-32 will give you a lot of background information and analysis.

The authorities I look to for C-11 information include:

What’s wrong with Bill C-11

with 10 comments

Bill C-11, the so-called “Copyright Modernization Act” will not actually modernize Canadian copyright law.

Instead, if this law is passed as it stands, it will harm my interests as a creator, as well as Canadian culture and heritage.

Canadian DMCA logo

I’m working hard to master eBook conversion of my debut novel, so I have been valiantly trying to avoid looking at what’s happening with Bill C-11 (an exact revival of Bill C-32, which was itself the Successor to Bill C-60, or Bill C-61). No matter what number, nor which political party is driving it, in every version this law has been a Canadian DMCA.

I became interested during the Canadian copyright consultation when an unprecedented number of Canadians responded to the Government’s call for input into the new draft copyright law. To be fair, this new incarnation actually does do some of the things that Canadians asked for. The problem is that it won’t matter because chances are good we will never be able to make use of these benefits because they will be blocked by what are sometimes called “digital locks”. Or Digital Rights Management (DRM), or Technical Protection Measures (TPM).

It doesn’t matter what you call it.

I thought you might be interested in the best summation of the worst problem with Bill C-11 [the emphasis is my own]:

 

the keys to the locks are held by someone other than the owner that is what is locked.

It is not the owner of the copyright that has the keys (to the lock on the content or the lock on devices),

and it is not the owner of the device that has the lock on the device.

It is the device manufacturer and/or software distributor that controls the keys.

In any type of lock, digital or otherwise, it is the interests of the entity with the keys whose interests are protected.

— Russell McOrmond, Digital Copyright Canada: Bill C-11 debate day 1

This is what will make it far worse for Canadians and our culture than what American’s have had to cope with in the original DMCA.

It will be illegal to break the digital lock, even if you have the right to access the content. Bill C-11 will make digital locks the single most powerful element in Canadian copyright law. Copyright will be subjugated to software and device manufacturers. It won’t be publishing companies that decide what books Canadians can access, nor the writers or even the readers of those books.

The company that distributes the software or manufactures the device will hold the keys to copyright law.

Canadian Copyright should be made in Canada

with 2 comments

Naturally, while I am working to get Inconstant Moon launched, not only is there a Canadian Federal Election in full swing, but a new release of WikiLeaks cables− in particular the batch on Canadian Copyright pressure− the ones I have been waiting for − have been released.

NO Canadian DMCA

Canadian DMCA Background

Ever since the United States passed their DMCA, Canadian Governments have been struggling to pass a Canadian DMCA.

First the Liberal Government tried to pass Bill C-60

Then the Conservative Government that replaced them tried to pass Bill C-61

Then the Conservative Government held the Copyright Consultation. More than eight Thousand Canadians responded to the copycon, and their submissions are still online.

The Conservative Government ignored the preponderance of feedback from the consultation and tried to pass Bill C-32

The DMCA is a bad law, and most Canadians that understand copyright issues are very much opposed to a Canadian DMCA.

When you realize that Bill C-60 was tabled by the Liberal Party of Canada, and Bill C-61 and C-32 by the Conservative Party of Canada, it was dreadfully clear that the law’s objectives were the same.
Both the Liberal and Conservative copyright law appeared to be made in the USA.

Now, however, it is no longer just theory.

WikiLeaks logoYou can read the cables yourself, here:
WikiLeaks cable Viewer: Canadian Copyright

Michael Geist is understandably working his way through them and blogging his findings

Michael Geist

Drew Wilson: ZeroPaid:

Russell McOrmond: Digital Copyright Canada

WikiLeaks Central: GeorgieBC

boingboing

Online activism works: Canada delayed US-style copyright bill in fear of activist campaign

reddit

Reddit: Wikileaks Cables Show Massive U.S. Effort to Establish Canadian DMCA

Those of us who suspected this are gratified these manipulations are now confirmed facts.
Thank you WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange, wikileaks logo and planet earth titled KEEP US STRONG

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,454 other followers