Bill C-32

Why do so many people disrespect copyright?

I'm one of the few people I know that has much respect for copyright. I oppose excessive forms of copyright as I recognise that the more disrespectful copyright becomes, the more people will disrespect it.

This afternoon I came across the following tweet:

TJ Hilton: Limewire owes $1 billion+, BP owes $69 million. Because sharing music is 14.5x more damaging than catastrophic spills. http://bit.ly/aEoZRR

An independent software author to Michael Geist: Thank you.

Dr. Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law. On his public website he has released a series of articles titled 32 Questions and Answers on C-32's Digital Lock Provisions. This is a great summary of some of the concerns, written not by a technical person like myself, but by a law professor who is independent of any special interest groups.

Digital locks trump Copyright in new "copyright" bill

The latest in a series of copyright bills was tabled on June 2, this one numbered Bill C-32. Like the Liberal Bill C-60 tabled in June 2005, and the previous Conservative Bill C-61 tabled in June 2008, the purpose of the bulk of the bill is to change Canadian law such that Canada can ratify the highly controversial 1996 WIPO treaties. While past WIPO treaties struck a balance between various competing interest, these treaties are seen as giving intermediaries such as publishers and technology companies far too much influence, to the detriment of both creators and audiences.

Read full article on IT World Canada's blog >>

Separating Science from Science Fiction on the Business News Network

Last week I had the opportunity to discuss the new copyright bill on the BNN show Squeezeplay. The other guest was Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Hill, and the hosts were Andrea Mandel-Campbell and Rudyard Griffiths.

It became obvious during the interview that the hosts had the misconception that they had a creator and a consumer, or even a creator and someone who wanted to infringe copyright. At one point Mr. Griffiths even asked me if I were supportive of the rule of law, which threw me for a loop as I hadn't expected that type of bias. What they actually had was two creators with a different level of technical knowledge, and thus a different understanding of the impact on creators of the policy we were being presented in the bill.

Different people have different expertise

I have been asked by more than one person to comment on a blog posting by James Gannon. The first thing to note is that he appears to be part of the smear campaign against Michael Geist. It is unfortunate that some people in this political debate are lowering themselves to this level.

The other is to note that he is a lawyer, and there is no requirement to take computer science courses in order to become a lawyer. While there may have been no requirement, I consider it an obligation of those dealing with this area of policy to obtain a basic working knowledge of a series of real-world technological measures.

Bill C-32 Clause-by-clause notes, by Russell McOrmond

Note: This is a more detailed document. For higher-level analysis, please see the Bill C-32 FAQ.

Summary

The only show-stoppers in my mind, problems which if not corrected should cause the bill to be voted down by opposition parties, are those relating to legal protection for technological measures. The fix is relatively easy: any additional protection that these mixed-use technologies are offered should be tied to the carrying out of activities which are otherwise already copyright infringements.

In my analysis of the bill I have tried to be as positive as possible. Having been actively involved in the copyright reform process since the summer of 2001, I have largely given up on the idea that revisions to the copyright act will be beneficial to the interests of independent creators. The choice we are presented with in the current political climate is not to advocate for good Copyright policy, but the necessity to work hard to try to turn disastrously bad policy into something a little less bad.

All of the comparatively positive aspects of the bill are nullified by the legal protection of technological measures, including by allowing these all too often abused technologies to supersede and effectively replace the rest of the Copyright Act.

Many copyright holders point to the rise in the use of new communications technologies like the Internet as being the source of their problems. Along with these new technologies came various technological measures that were marketed to copyright holders, some which are helpful and some which are very harmful to the interests of copyright holders. Most of the statistics used to indicate losses do not differentiate between losses due to infringement and losses due to unintended consequences from misunderstood and misapplied technological measures.

I make this observation primarily an author and commercial support person for independent software. I am also a Canadian who wants to be given as many opportunities as possible to legally acquire and (when requested) pay for content created by others, noting that far too often the copyrighted works I wish to acquire are not made legally available to me either as a Canadian, or under reasonable terms.

To understand the basic issues and questions behind technical protection measures, please see: Protecting property rights in a digital world.

Note: Clause 47 on technological measures is nearly 15 pages long (Pages 43 through 57), making it clear that this is the largest single concept being put forward in this bill. I think that anyone who suggests that the technical measures aspect of the bill is not important hasn't looked at the bill.

Letter to MP

Well, in light of yesterday's new copyright Bill, it looks like it is time to start becoming active again. Below is the letter I drafted this morning to my MP.

If we are to have any chance of effecting real change to this bill, or killing it if change is not possible, then we must be vocal with our MPs and let them know how unhappy we are with it.

With Bill C-61 there was enough vocal opposition to it that it was delayed many months in the house until the government was finally prorogued. We must be able to do this again.

A message from Ministers Tony Clement and James Moore about the modernization of copyright legislation

(Via Email, English version copied here)

We are pleased to inform you that the Government of Canada has introduced legislation to modernize the Copyright Act,bringing it up-to-date with the advances of the digital age.

This legislation will bring Canada in line with international standards and promote home-grown innovation and creativity. It is a fair, balanced, and

Conservative Copyright Bill C-32

This page is intended to be a launching point for people to learn about the Copyright Bill C-32 (LegisInfo) tabled by the Conservative Government on June 2, 2010 (First reading).

Government of Canada Moves to Modernize the Copyright Act

(Press release received as follows. Short form is that there is a media lock up before the bill, which will be tabled tomorrow some time between 3:00 and 3:30pm)

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