There’s a Fire Burning, and It’s Hot.

As expected the online community is enraged by the proposed copyright bill. Enraged to a point where it’s damn near impossible to keep up with it all. Fortunately some people are better at summarizing things than I am, so as usual, I’m going to copy from Micheal Geist’s blog[1].

As expected, Prentice has provided a series of attention-grabbing provisions to consumers including time shifting, private copying of music (transferring a song to your iPod), and format shifting (changing format from analog to digital). These are good provisions that did not exist in the delayed December bill. However, check the fine print since the rules are subject to a host of strict limitations and, more importantly, undermined by the digital lock provisions. The effect of the digital lock provisions is to render these rights virtually meaningless in the digital environment because anything that is locked down (ie. copy-controlled CD, no-copy mandate on a digital television broadcast) cannot be copied. As for every day activities like transferring a DVD to your iPod – those are infringing too. Indeed, the law makes it an infringement to circumvent the locks for these purposes.

Anybody who’s ever copied a CD or DVD to their computer knows that it’s pretty damn easy to do so[2]. But how many of you know that you’re actually circumventing a digital copy protection mechanism? These mechanisms have been around for quite some time and time and time again they’ve been proven to be worthless when it comes to users and their desire to use the media they purchased in ways they want.

The other headline grabber is the $500 fine for private use infringement. This will be heralded as a reasonable compromise, but check the fine print. Canadian law already allows a court to order damages below $500 per infringement, so the change may not be as dramatic as expected (though $500 in damages is the maximum for private use infringement). Moreover, it is already arguably legal to download sound recordings in Canada. Under the proposal, there are exceptions for uploading or posting music online (ie. making available) and even the suggestion that posting a copyright-protected work to YouTube could result in the larger $20,000 per infringement damage award.

That sure was a headline grabber. It’s all I read in print. So, the scenario is this: you make a video of your best buddies doing stupid things, you use a small clip of audio from a song or movie to express how you feel about your buddies and you upload it to youtube. Guess what? You’re on the hook now. I can name a few users here who have definitely violated that part.

I have one last thing that I want to point out from Michael’s blog[3]. And this one hits me right on the head, because I love my privacy.

So why is it a betrayal?

Because in a country that prioritizes privacy, the Canadian DMCA will render it virtually impossible to protect against the invasion of privacy by digital media companies. The bill includes an exemption for those that circumvent digital locks to protect their privacy, yet renders the tools needed to circumvent illegal. In other words, the bill gives Canadians the right to protect their privacy but prohibits the tools needed to do so.

Basically that means if you insert a DVD or a CD and it installs something to assist in their “copy protection”[4] or just send them usage data, violating your privacy[5], you are not allowed to remove it. Because the tools (Anti virus software, ad-aware, malware detectors) will effectively become illegal as they are circumvention tools.

[1] http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3025/125/
[2] http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/05/22/1439253
[3] http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/3029/125/
[4] http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/10/31/2016223
[5] http://games.slashdot.org/games/05/11/07/1221209.shtml

About SmartSsa

a mindless soul flushed down the toilet
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