Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

C-11 ~ Canadians Don’t Know From TPMs

with 3 comments

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?”

pie chart 61.9% voted "Yes" 28,57% "No", the rest don't know.

DRM has been getting a bit of press every year.  Even so, nearly 30% of my respondants don’t know what DRM is.

I think it was just this past year that animator Nina Paley turned down a Netflix distribution deal for her animated feature film “Sita Sings the Blues” because Netflix would only carry it with DRM.

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.”

Haakon Meland Eriksen

To understand why mainstream publishers are beginning to reject DRM read Charlie’s Diary: More on DRM and ebooks

My first Day Against DRM was in 2010. And May 4th — Friday next week — is this year’s “International Day Against DRM — May 4, 2012

My second Poll question was “Do You Know What Digital Locks Are?”

Pie chart: 36.6% Yes 36.6% No and 27.7% Not Sure

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?”

pie chart: 77.27% said NO 9.9 13.64% were NOT SURE and 9.09% said YES

Wow.

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.

<hr.
[Correction of fact: "Technical Protection Measures" has been amended to the term used in Bill C-11 "Technological Protection Measures"]

3 Responses

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  1. […] Especially since most Canadians don’t know what TPMs are? […]

  2. […] majority of those Canadians who took my unscientific poll  understand (or think they understand) what DRM […]

  3. Laurel,

    I had a chat on Twitter with James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages a couple of years back about DRM/TPM. I pointed out to him that the WIPO Copyright Treaties stated that only the Creator had the right to use DRM/TPM, and that therefore C-31 as it was then wasn’t WIPO Compliant.

    I also pointed out that in a lot of cases the Creator had no choice. His line was that if a company didn’t offer you a choice, you shouldn’t use them. I replied that with some companies, like Amazon, with their effective monopoly on the market, you no choice. At that point he blocked me on Twitter. I doubt his views have changed. He’s been giving his marching orders on Bill C-11, and he isn’t going to bother with even pretending to defend them.

    Too bad Canadian Creators will suffer, because he didn’t have the guts to do what was right for us.

    Wayne


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