Double Standard: Bill C-11
“Bill C-11 contains an “enabler” provision which currently states, “It is an infringement of copyright for a person to provide, by means of the Internet or another digital network, a service that the person knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement if an actual infringement of copyright occurs by means of the Internet or another digital network as a result of the use of that service.” — Russell McOrmond Is Bill C-11 related to SOPA/PIPA?
If it’s an infringement to provide a service the person knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement IF AN INFRINGEMENT OCCURS…
Wait: does that mean it isn’t an infringement if no one actually infringes?
Hum. It appears that Bill C-11 is straying pretty far afield for copyright law. And sounds pretty dependent on what other people do.
But I would not be liable if someone else’s dog bit the letter carrier.
Or what about “the person knows or should have known” …. Well. We all make mistakes. Who can know what anyone else will do?
If rent out a building to a tenant who cooks up methamphetamine in the basement, or takes pot shots at passersby out the window… is this then my responsibility? After all, it’s my building. It’s in a bad neighborhood so I should have known renting it out might make it possible for badguys to do bad things.
Think about it.
“…the person knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement…” If the design of the thing is to primarily enable bad things… why don’t we make laws like that for anything in the real world?
Many perfectly respectable stores like Canadian Tire sell guns. In a pinch, you could use your handgun to drive a nail, but that isn’t what it was designed for. A gun is a weapon that is clearly designed to put holes in things. Quite often, guns are used to put holes in people. And guns can and are used in a commission of a crime far more serious than copyright infringement.
Yet no one is suggesting gun manufacturers be held responsible for crimes committed with the guns they made.
In the real world, this kind of preventative lawmaking is not the practice in Canada.
Recreational drug use has been illegal in Ontario throughout my life, yet there are whole stores devoted to selling the attendant paraphernalia. It is perfectly legal for “head shops” to sell hookahs and bongs openly on the main shopping street of law abiding cities like Waterloo. And these devices are most certainly designed to enable acts of illegal drug use.
Any tool can be used for good or ill, as Cory Doctorow recently pointed out with his suggestion that wheels should be outlawed since wheeled vehicles allow criminals to flee from the scene of the crime. A hammer is a wonderful tool for driving nails, and yet a simple hammer can double as an effective weapon since it is easy for anyone to wield.
In the real world, we don’t arrest people for thinking dangerous thoughts or manufacturing goods or creating a service that someone else might use to break laws. We don’t hold innocent people responsible for the crimes of others.
The legal standards for citizen protection must be the same both online and off. Yet Bill C-11 lowers standards for citizen protection in Canada.
And that’s wrong.
gun by Whizzer released under a creative commons Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5) License
All other images are my own, released under a Creative Commons Attribution license by laurelrusswurm