Laurel L. Russwurm

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘DVD

C-11 ~ Criminalizes TPM circumvention without Warning Canadians

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Before making it illegal to circumvent TPMs, shouldn’t Canada make it mandatory for manufacturers to warn Canadians that the media and devices we buy use TPMs?

Especially since most Canadians don’t know what TPMs are?

Canadians don’t recognize TPMs.

    • We think we are doing something wrong when we are prevented from copying digital photos we have taken of our own kids, with our own digital camera, to the hard drive on our own computer. We can’t tell if there is something wrong with the camera, the cable, the flash drive or the computer. It would never occur to us that the software has decided we are infringing copyright — especially since we aren’t.  Our ability to copy our own digital content can be prevented accidentally or deliberately with TPMs (Technological Protection Measures).
    • We don’t know the reason we have so much trouble trying to burn our home movies onto a DVD for Granny is because TPMs prevent the software from working properly.  When TPMs (more commonly called “DRM” or “digital locks”) are added to our media and our devices the functionality is often degraded. In other words, to protect the intellectual property from consumer customers, TPMs that may break the thing are often considered an acceptable risk.
    • We don’t know that our legally purchased DVD won’t play in our own DVD player because it is region encoded for a different region, another deliberate TPM.   Consumers accept “region encoding” as a natural limitation of the technology, because we knew it was a physical limitation on VHS and PAL videotape formats.  But the reality is that a DVD would play in any machine except that region encoding TPMs artificially prevent consumers from playing the DVDs we purchase on the device of our choosing.
    • We don’t know that the DVD we legally purchased will not play on the digital device we own if it has a Free Software Operating System (gnu/linux) without first utilizing a player like VLC to circumvent the manufacturer’s TPMs — DRM or “digital locks.”  Bill C-11 will make software like VLC illegal because it can be used to circumvent TPMs.
    • We don’t know that we can’t save the YouTube video letter our grandchild uploaded for us because YouTube’s TPMs prevent this.
    • We don’t know that when we’ve upgraded the hardware on our computer one too many times, the reason that our “improved” computer suddenly became a brick and simply will not work any more is because TPMs prevent it until we buy a new copy of the software. Bill C-11 will make it possible to prevent consumers from installing free software on our own computers.
    • We don’t know that the Nineteen Eighty Four eBook we bought from Amazon disappeared from our Kindle because Amazon was simply exercising a is a deliberate TPM (Technical Protection Measure), more commonly called DRM or “digital locks.”
    • We don’t know that the printer ink cartridge isn’t actually empty, but that the TPM has decided it is.  Sometimes because we have made a certain number of copies, or maybe because there is a TPM which tells the printer that the cartridge can no longer be used after a certain date.  So some printer cartridges can’t be refilled without resetting that date – which constitutes circumventing TPMs.
    • We don’t know our scanner isn’t scanning those photographs because they have been “copy protected” with TPMs.  Even though the photographer has (a) died (b) gone out of business or (c) long ago deleted the content from their drives.   Further, we don’t realize that if we do find a way to scan the only copy of that milestone photograph of our loved one we will be circumventing TPMs, which will be illegal once Bill C-11 passes into law.

Not all TPMs are digital.

Some devices are assembled using specialty screws that can’t be turned with standard screw drivers.  So you must possess the proprietary screwdrivers just to open it up.   With Bill C-11 these screw drivers can be considered TPM circumvention devices, which will become illegal if Bill C-11 passes. Computer recycling depots, AV departments in schools and libraries, and of course repair shops across Canada will have to be very careful not to repair or refurbish any device with TPMs.  It will be safer to throw many goods out rather than risking breaking the law to make repairs.

The Copyright symbol is a TPM.  Overlaying the words “Do Not Copy” or some other kind of watermark on an image is another kind of TPM.  Very often both of these TPMs are used in the commission of copyfraud.   Creative work that was never “protected by copyright” (like the works of Shakespeare) or that have already entered the public domain (like the works of Oscar Wilde) are not subject to copyright.   Anyone can use them, because the monopoly has expired.  But there are a very large number of websites set up to sell copies of public domain art etc that claim copyright to which they have no right.

If copyright infringement is theft from the copyright holder, then copyfraud is theft from the public.  Making copyfraud an offence would actually modernize Canadian copyright law, but as it stands, Bill C-11 will actually protect copyfraud, at the expense of Canadians.

TPMs effectively allow machines authority over human behaviour, and there is no appeal.  How do you convince the hardware or software that it is in error?

No one tells us these things even *have* TPMs.

A great many of the problems we currently experience with our digital media and devices are caused by TPMs/DRM or “digital locks.”

Manufacturers place Technical Protection Measures on our media and devices in order to control our use of these things we own.  They don’t want to draw attention to this; if they did, consumers might choose not to purchase the goods.  As you can see from the examples shown, TPMs are capable of far exceeding “copy protection” and in many cases TPMs are currently employed to artificially impair the media or device to force consumers to upgrade or buy a new one.  Which sounds rather like fraud to me.

What most consumers see is that something is broken.  Some of us will take the digital goods back to the retailer, who will do their job and sell us a new one.  Never mind that adding material that might be repaired but for Bill C-11 — perfectly good digital equipment — to our landfills is hardly in the public good.

Before Bill C-11, if the TPMs manufacturers added broke the goods we purchased, we could repair them.  If the TPMs prevented us from accessing media that we were legally entitled to access, we could circumvent them. Or get someone who knew how to circumvent or repair them for us.  Bill C-11 will make this illegal.

You can’t see most TPMs with the naked eye, so we can’t even tell if it is there because most TPMs are hidden.  Which is why:

Bill C-11 Must Add Warning Labels

Citizens must be told:

  1. that TPMs are present, and
  2. what they do

Citizens can not be reasonably expected to follow the digital lock provisions of Bill C-11 without the inclusion of mandatory warning labels informing/explaining TPMs to consumers on “protected” media, including:

      • movies,
      • music,
      • games,
      • software,
      • eBooks,
      • images,
      • services,
      • etc.

and on “protected” digital devices such as:

      • Computers,
      • DVD players,
      • CD players,
      • game systems,
      • eReaders,
      • cell phones,
      • cameras,
      • digital drives,
      • scanners,
      • etc.

C-11 criminalizes circumvention of TPMs we don’t know are there

If Bill C-11 is passed without also mandating manufacturer warnings that inform consumers of the existence and parameters of the TPMs that we may not legally circumvent simply in trying to make our own digital media and devices work,

Bill C-11 will make all Canadians into inadvertent criminals

There is still a tiny bit of time left to contact our MPs and let them know we don’t want them to pass this Bill C-11 as it is There is still time to say “No”

Legal Today, Not Tomorrow? ~ Bill C-11

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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

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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.

Personal Use Copying vs. Bootlegging

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Star Wars Movie Poster

Today there is only one first run movie theatre chain in the whole of Canada, so even the most successful movies only play for a matter of weeks.

But back in the 1970′s there was still competition among Canadian movie theatres so Star Wars actually played on Canadian movie screens for over a year. When the first Star Wars movie was released I was so caught up in it that I ended up going out to see it in a variety of movie theatres thirteen times during that first year.

I am a huge Star Wars fan.

I bought all the Star Wars merchandise that I could afford. In those days there were no DVDs or downloads. VCRs had just come on the market and they were prohibitively expensive.

So at first those of us who were not indescribably wealthy had to content ourselves with purchasing vinyl record albums that ran at 33 1/3rd rpm on an old fashioned machine called a record player. I bought the music in the form of the John Williams Star Wars soundtrack album, as well as a record called “The Story of Star Wars”, a synopsis of the story narrated by C3PO with audio clips from the film. To this day any time I hear the 20th Century Fox music tag I flash on the “real” Star Wars opening.

And today the George Lucas’s Star Wars empire continues to make money in new ways. I don’t have a problem with that. It is a business after all.

I still love Star Wars, particularly the first one. And this article in no way intends any disrespect. I’m telling you about my connection with Star Wars because the incredible success that Star Wars had makes it a good example. That, and because Star Wars was the very first videotape movie I saw played on a VCR in a private home.

What I really want to do today (besides procrastinate from working on my NaNoWriMo novel) is to look at personal use copying as a copyright infringement issue.

The Copyright Lobby makes no distinction between commercial bootleggers who distribute illegal copies for profit and legal purchasers who seek to make a back-up copy or digital format shift for personal use. Because they insist it is all the same thing, the Copyright Lobby has been pressuring governments the world over in an attempt to criminalize personal use copying.

I think there is a problem with the terminology here because calling both things by the same name is horribly misleading. Both activities involve digital copying, but that is where the similarity ends. Just as apples and oranges are both fruit but they are really not the same at all.

apples and oranges

applesOne thing the Copyright Lobby calls “piracy” would be more accurately called “Bootlegging”. Bootleg music recordings have been around as long as audio recording technology has existed. People have smuggled recording devices into concerts and made copies which they have then sold around the world. There have also been professional bootleggers who have copied recorded music and repackaged it to sell illegally. These activities have resulted in lost revenue for music distributors, and in fact should be illegal.

orangesThe other thing the Copyright Lobby calls “piracy” is what I call “Personal use copying”. This covers a much wider range of activities, but the chief defining factor of personal use copying is the fact that this digital copying is not for profit. Rather than resulting in lost revenue for distributors, personal use copying relieves the burden of format shifting from the manufacturer to the consumer. When shared through p2p networks personal use copying serves as a means of promoting these commercial products in the same way that radio and television broadcasts have done under the traditional business model. This type of copying should be legal.

The Copyright Lobby’s effort to criminalize this type of copying simply alienates the customer base. Like DRM or SOC methods, it does absolutely nothing to stem the flow of bootlegging.

When did the idea of ownership change?

It used to be that when you bought something you owned it. You were free to do with it what you liked. Even if it was something covered under copyright law… like a book, you were entitled to read that book as many times as you wanted to.

  • You could loan it to a friend.
  • You could quote from it in an essay
  • You could read it aloud to your blind grandmother.

And at the end of the day it was still your book. Unless you decided you no longer wanted it, at which time you could legally sell it to a used book store.

Now lets look at what’s been happening so far in the information age. Manufacturers of recorded music and movies have their materials covered under copyright. They want us to not make copies for our own personal use, even though we have paid them the price they ask.

Personal use copying is not the same thing as bootlegging for commercial gain.

The Problem

Original Star Wars Betamax videotape

When videotape and VCRs first came on the market, it cost on the order of $100 to purchase Star Wars (I refer to the “real” Star Wars movie… back in the days of ancient history when there was only one which was simply called Star Wars… “Star Wars Episode One” did not yet exist).

 

If you purchased Star Wars in the Sony Betamax version back then, you would have found yourself out of luck a few short years later when Sony stopped making Betamax VCRs. When your Betamax machine became inoperable, you could no longer buy a new one, which of course rendered the tape you purchased in good faith unplayable. No one warned the unfortunate consumers that invested in Betamax tapes and Betamax equipment. I never heard of anyone getting refunds from the movie companies. Or the MPAA. Or Sony. Etc.

Star Wars on VHS

So now the copy of the Star Wars movie is no longer playable. Obviously, you thought that you would be able to keep playing that movie whenever you wanted to for the rest of your life. The same way that you will be able read your paperback copy of Anne of Green Gables as many times as you like for as long as you live.

But.

Now you can’t. So what do you do if you really loved Star Wars?

You go out and buy it again. This time on VHS.

The rest of your life, eh? I know that’s what I thought. Didn’t you?

Did Twentieth Century Fox ever offer to reimburse you for the useless hunk of plastic and tape (that you have now purchased twice for your own use) that is now deteriorating? And suddenly it’s near impossible to buy a new VHS machine because there is yet another new technology– now movies are on DVD. Even if you can find a new VHS machine, we’ve all learned that a VCR will be lucky to last for five years anyway. And of course the VCRs you can find now are far more expensive than DVD players. So what’s a fan to do. Oh right.

You go out and buy Star Wars again on DVD.

Star Wars on DVD

[Of course, this particular example is extra irritating because George Lucas hasn't stopped tinkering with the thing, and since he's vowed to never release the REAL version (the one that actually played in theatres in 1977) on DVD, so I will never have the version I want no matter how many times I've paid for it. *sigh*]

But you’re a fan.

So you go out and buy the movie AGAIN on DVD.

At least you have it in a form that will last.

Now HD is gone too.

Or not.

Because then along came HD DVD.  The media manufacturers were a little surprised that we didn’t all rush out and buy HD machines.

Replacing our entire video library. AGAIN.

Oh… you were one of those suckers who got conned into converting to bought into HD? Ooooops!  Didn’t anyone tell you that the technology you were supposed to back was Blu-Ray?

I could go through the same process to look at the parallels in the music industry: piano rolls, gramophone cylinders, ’78′s, LPs, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes and CDS… all over the course of a single century.

Funny, I have a working gramophone older than I am which will play ’78′s. Yet our modern day electronic equipment will be doing well to work after a decade.

I don’t know about you but I am tired of buying the same movies over and over again.

Copyright is an agreement between the creator/manufacturer and the consumer.

The media distributors have NOT kept their part of the bargain, expecting consumers to pay for the same material over and over again. It should be legal to be able to watch the movie you have purchased in good faith as many times as we want to, for the rest of our lives.

Consumers have not been given any protection by governments the world over.

At the very minimum customers need to be given the right to copy the products they have purchased onto the piece of technology needed to play it.

We believe we own what we have purchased.
They want us to believe that we don’t.

Fortunately our government representatives are in an excellent position to look out for the Canadian consumer interests as they redraft our copyright law for the benefit of Canadians.


[At last: my copycon submission made it to the copyright consultation website.]


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