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[P]
Request for Comments on the Canadian DMCA

By Fyndalf in MLP
Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 10:56:55 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Canada has decided to make a DMCA of its own. The government is asking for comments on the Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues. The three objectives of legislation resulting from this consultation are to: "set out a new exclusive right in favour of copyright owners, including performers and record producers, to make their works available on-line to the public", "prevent the circumvention of technologies used to protect copyright material", and "prohibit tampering with rights management information". It would be nice if some especially eloquent folk wrote serious papers on why this isn't necessarily a great idea and submitted them.


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Request for Comments on the Canadian DMCA | 17 comments (12 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Situation not so bad. (5.00 / 2) (#6)
by mbrubeck on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 07:59:23 PM EST

Before writing any angry letters, please read this. The Canadian government is already aware of our concerns, and appears to be addressing them with care. This Globe Technology article states:
In sketching out a vision for copyrights in the digital age, the government has sent out a very clear message: It is uncomfortable with recent U.S. copyright reforms which may be too agressive in protecting creators at the expense of users. In contrast, Ottawa intends to craft a distinctly Canadian policy that better preserves the balance between the rights of copyright creators and consumers.
The "circumvention of technologies" clause, and the other goals of the current digital copyright process, are requirements of the WIPO Copyright Treaty. Canada along with the EU, the US, and many other nations signed the WIPO treaty in December 1997. Signatory nations are required to "provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures" protecting copyrighted works. The United States DMCA and the EU Copyright Directive were both created in order to meet the requirements of the WIPO treaty.

Fortunately, Canada seems to be leaning towards a saner approach. An earlier discussion paper from the Intellectual Property Policy Directorate notes that it would suffice to outlaw the actual bypassing of copyright protection, rather than banning devices that make this conduct possible. The authors are clearly wary of problems with the DMCA / EU Copyright Directive approach:

In the case of devices, it may be difficult to prove contributory infringement in situations where it may not be demonstrated with certainty that such devices will be extensively used in contravention of any rights under copyright law. In addition, with the current wording of article 11 of the Treaty, unless it is very carefully drafted, a provision aimed at the devices used for by-passing technological measures may go beyond our obligations under the Treaty.
Both the earlier discussion paper and the newer consultation paper contain recommendations of an alternate approach. If their proposals are adopted then devices will remain legal, fair use will be protected, and only infringing conduct would be prohibited. For example, use of DeCSS to watch DVDs under Linux would be legal, but use of it to assist in pirating movies would be illegal. This would counter the worst features of the DMCA. So for now we should avoid referring to a "Canadian DMCA," and instead we should point to the Canadian WIPO implementation process as a model for other signatory governments.

Much more information is available at the Intellectual Property Policy Information Page, for those with the patience to wade through it.

Why is a new law needed at all? (none / 0) (#8)
by kor on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 12:40:49 AM EST

Both the earlier discussion paper and the newer consultation paper contain recommendations of an alternate approach. If their proposals are adopted then devices will remain legal, fair use will be protected, and only infringing conduct would be prohibited. For example, use of DeCSS to watch DVDs under Linux would be legal, but use of it to assist in pirating movies would be illegal.
Why do we need a new law making the use of DeCSS for pirating movies illegal? Pirating movies already illegal under the existing copyright laws.

I wish those introducing these laws could come up with even one example of where the existing copyright laws are inadequate for protecting the rights of content creators. It seems to me that additional laws will just serve to restrict fair use.

[ Parent ]

Governments wanting to create new laws (none / 0) (#10)
by doug363 on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 07:18:32 AM EST

Why do we need a new law making the use of DeCSS for pirating movies illegal? Pirating movies already illegal under the existing copyright laws.

I'd just like to have a rant about the above point: It strikes me that, in Australia at least, a government must pass legislation in order to be seen as doing anything. In the process, we end up passing many "reforms" and whatnot, often wasting a lot of time and money making minor changes to laws and to create new (and IMHO rather meaningless) laws. These new laws are not revolutionary or visionary, and they do not effectively introduce any new ideas or ideals to aim for.

A prime example of this is the DMCA-type laws, which really don't help protect content any more at all. Some other examples of laws I can think of off hand include:

  • Internet regulation type laws. Most of these are completely unenforcable, and only in cases where the infrigement is illegal under another set of laws can the offender be effectively prosecuted.
  • Certain racial vilification laws (in Australia). Most crimes which are comitted and investigated under these laws are illegal anyway, and the passing of the law seems to be a token gesture at most.
  • Cross-media ownership laws. I'm not sure if this applies in other countries apart from Australia. Basically, these laws are made for 3 companies (and their CEOs): News Ltd. (Rupert Murdoch), Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. (Kerry Packer), and Fairfax (that... guy whose name escapes me).
  • Petrol price regulation laws. Yes, in Western Australia, the state government has passed laws stating (among other things) how often petrol companies may raise prices.

I am not disputing the potential usefulness or the objectives of these laws; I am pointing out that better laws would come about if people thought about how to make laws with the long term in mind. In other words, instead of making a law specifically about petrol pricing, think about how to correctly amend the existing consumer protection legislation. If the amendment is silly, then it shouldn't be done. Solving short-term problems with leglislation will only cause problems in the long-term (I don't want to imagine what some of these Internet regulations could do in the future). Address the problem through means other than legislation. Governments are supposed to govern, and passing leglislation is only a small part of that.

[ Parent ]

But the DMCA does protect copyrighted works. (none / 0) (#16)
by Trepalium on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 04:04:08 AM EST

It just doesn't protect them in the way copyright was intended to work. The DMCA grants copyright holders perpetual copyright in which all forms of "fair use" can be prohibited. It's rather sickening if you think about it. Here, you have laws that are supposed to convince those in the copyright industry to embrace digital technology, but instead it's being used to allow the copyright industry to remove the two biggest thorns in their sides -- expiration of copyrights and "fair use".

[ Parent ]
From the Discussion Paper: (none / 0) (#12)
by Bear Cub on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 01:49:56 PM EST

From the discussion paper referenced earlier:
Article 11: Obligations concerning Technological Measures

Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their rights under this Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts, in respect of their works, which are not authorized by the authors concerned or permitted by law. [Emphasis added]

It's the 'not authorized by the authors' bit that seems to be operating here. Corporations have always wanted complete control of how their copyrighted material is used, and they see electronic publishing as a means by which to achieve it. EULA's have always been backed by contract law. The above clause, when implemented in law, will give EULA's the backing of criminal law as well.
It seems to me that additional laws will just serve to restrict fair use.
Exactly. If any arbitrary EULA can be backed with the threat of fines/imprisonment, Fair Use becomes a myth, and this makes copyright holders very happy. They will restrict Fair Use to their own advantage, and the consumer will have no recourse. That is why corporations are pushing for new laws.

------------------------------------- Bear Cub now posts as Christopher.
[ Parent ]

My only question is, "Why?" (none / 0) (#9)
by Trepalium on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 12:52:20 AM EST

Copyright infringement is already illegal damn near everywhere. How do these laws really help copyright holders protect their materials, except as a bludgeon against people that are doing research or producing technology that lets people do things with their stuff that the copyright holders don't like. I've never really understood how a circumvention versus plain old infringement would aid copyright holders, unless the law is device based (then it hurts far more than it helps). I have a nasty feeling that no matter how this goes, copyright holders will be able to pull the same kind of crap in Canada if this law passes that they were doing in the States.

[ Parent ]
some especially eloquent folk? (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by mmcc on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 08:18:29 PM EST

Why don't you write something about it? If it is an issue you feel strongly about, why not try and summarize your feelings about why the DMCA isn't right for Canada and post them to kuro5hin or the government, rather than asking somebody else to do it? Aren't you just abdicating responsibility?

Isn't is a little ironic that our governments (Australia and Canada) are plagiarizing legislation from the US that is meant to prohibit copying ? :-}



What's wrong with the existing rights (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by scross on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 08:45:01 AM EST

I think that the key issue is this:
  • Copying someone's copyrighted work, whether on paper or in bytes, is illegal - period.
  • A work, being in digital, only makes that work easier to copy, but no less illegal.
  • The law enforcement should remain focused on the act of copying.

Cheers, Sarah
They don't work (none / 0) (#13)
by Golden Spray on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 03:46:33 PM EST

The problem with the existing laws is that they just don't work.

Imagine trying to charge everyone who illegally shared copyrighted works on Napster. I would be impossible. Copyright laws are only really effective against "targetable" offenders, that is a single orginization that is doing a lot pirating. When everyone is doing a little, the total effect is just a bad, if not worse. Targetting one individual has almost no effect and targetting all the infringers is not feasable.

The other potential problem is that copyright holders simply won't embrace new technologies without "sufficient" protections. Legal, mainstream, downloadable music is not going to happen unless the copyright holders believe that their property is protected.

It sucks, but its true.

My main fear, as a Canadian, is that if Canada passes smarter rules then the DMCA, and the copyright holders will then attempt to "boycott" doing business in Canada (or threaten too, forcing the gov in to changing the laws). Alternatively, countries that house the large copyright holders may attempt to force Canada to "protect" those company's interests. In some sense we may not have a real choice to pass better laws.



GS

[ Parent ]
I doubt any "boycotting" will happen. (none / 0) (#14)
by Trepalium on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 02:10:12 AM EST

Canada comprises a market that is only about 1/10 of that of the United States, and the various businesses that rely on copyright for all their profits contribute very little to our economy here. If these companies tried to boycott our government they'd only hurt their prospective customers, which would, in turn, only drive them to local producers. Canadian music has probably become too strong for the likes of American music industry people, so I doubt they'll go out of their way to strengthen it. See also: shooting self in foot.

I'm not sure there's any way to implement the parts of that WIPO treaty on circumvention "effective technological measures" without allowing corporations the power to club researchers and anyone else that does something with their product that they don't want done. Virtually all suggested methods would still make something like DeCSS or AEBPR illegal, despite the fact they may contribute something valid to society.

[ Parent ]

I would not be so sure. (none / 0) (#17)
by Golden Spray on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 01:06:49 PM EST

The threat might be enough to push around the gov. Besides, think not of the music labels but the music sellers, Sam's, A&B Sound, Music world, not to mention the smaller independant stores. What about CHUM tv that owns Much and Much more Music? Radio Stations?

They would all probably die without American labels. As for Canadian music being too strong, there is nothing to stop them from signing Canadain artists and selling everywhere else in the world, nothing but the individual artist's morals. The problem would be that Canada would be standing more or less alone. Unless of course we could get China on our side. Then there might be enough clout (consumers) to force the labels around.

As for "effective techno measures", I was thinking about this. Doesn't it seem odd that an "effective" measure would require circumvention protection? If it was actually effective wouldn't it prevent circumvention, that is be hack proof (probably impossible)? Maybe by defining effective as actaully "working" then we can get around it.



GS

[ Parent ]
Not quite (none / 0) (#15)
by Dwonis on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 02:31:10 AM EST

Actually, you're wrong. Under sane (traditional) copyright law, you are allowed to copy or to distribute, but not both.

For instance, I can buy 800 books and sell them at a profit without having to pay any royalties. I can also make 800 copies of a book for myself. What I cannot do is make 800 copies of a book and sell the copies.

Unfortunately, publishers (and the general public, lately) seem to think there's something wrong with plain copying, and they seem to think copy "protection" is justified.

Copyright law has worked well for many years; It does not need to be reformed.

[ Parent ]

Request for Comments on the Canadian DMCA | 17 comments (12 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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