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[d@DCC] [Fwd: Copyright issues in USA, coming soon to Canada]

From: Sydney Weidman <syd _-at-_>
To: General Copyright Discussion <discuss (at)>
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 03:10:57 -0600

Sorry, I forgot to BCC instead of CC these recipients, so this message
didn't make it to the list.

-----Forwarded Message-----
From: Sydney Weidman <>
To: Sparkplug <>
General Copyright Discussion <>
Subject: Copyright issues in USA, coming soon to Canada
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 17:05:11 -0600

Andrew Kantor ( wrote an incredible summary of the
problems with Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the Digial Millenium
Copyright Act (DMCA) in the USA:

We have to watch this carefully because Canada is being forced to accept
legal protection of DRM by being pressured to ratifying the WIPO
Performances and Phonograms Treaty

If you think ratifying this treaty would be good for artists, think
again. Whoever ends up providing the defacto standard in Digital Rights
Management will be in a position to hold every artist in Canada (in the
world, for that matter) for ransom. "If you don't pay up, we ain't gonna
protect you". How many times has this scene played out in Hollywood
gangster movies? Well, this time the bad guy *is* Hollywood. An artist
under such a regime would be faced with a brutal choice: Pay your
protection money (a.k.a royalty for licensed protection technology) or
see your work rendered inaccessible.

Whose interests are being represented by these changes? Artists?
Audiences? In today's world, there is less and less distinction between
artist and audience. Audiences have been empowered to create and publish
their own works, and artists have new and more powerful means to capture
and transform elements of culture around them. We no longer need big
publishing houses or major recording labels to enjoy a vibrant market
for creative works. This is good for everyone except the old-fashioned
industry middle-men that make their money by artist exploitation and
mass production. A government that cares about encouraging social and
technological progress ought to be listening to the vast majority of
Canadians, rather than listening only to the interests of the industries
threatened by change.

Moreover, Digital Rights Management cannot, in any case, protect artists
for the simple reason that digital rights protection schemes never work.
The schemes are always defeated by something simple like drawing on a
disk with a marker or holding down the shift key when you insert a CD in
your computer. That's why the American entertainment giants have to make
these seditious acts illegal. By ratifying the WIPO Performances and
Phonograms Treaty, Canada will be obliged to defend lame technology with
the full force of the law. So in the end, the entertainment industry can
rest easy knowing that Canadian law enforcement, and therefore Canadian
taxpayers, will ultimately foot the bill for any shortcomings in DRM
technology. Since Canadian law enforcement is already empowered to
protect artists against copyright infringement, how does this new burden
make the job any easier or more effective?

What is really at stake for the industry is the ability to limit
competition. If I control DRM and DRM is the law, then I can determine
who is and is not allowed to produce devices capable of viewing
protected content. If anyone tries to innovate or create compatible
devices without my permission, I'll just have them thrown in jail. This
is not the basis for a healthy, competitive market. It is an environment
which limits our freedom and punishes creativity. 

This change in the legal landscape has special importance for me, as an
advocate, user, and creator of Free Software (see for a brief introduction). Laws
protecting DRM could make it illegal for me to create software which
reads or writes Microsoft Office file formats. Useful Free Software
programs like OpenOffice (, would become
forbidden. Why should I be prevented from voluntarily sharing my work in
order to protect someone else's outdated business model? This would be
the equivalent of allowing the National Association of Home Builders to
rough up Habitat for Humanity because it is muscling in on their

Why bother making laws like this? What are we gaining except more
interference in our private lives by corporations and governments? What
causes us to accept such bad laws? The process seems to be one of
panic-driven greed conspiring with a failure on the part of our
government to understand or consider the needs of society at large.

Hopefully, Mr. Kantor's article will help everyone understand the
dangers of credulously accepting advice from industry lobbyists while
ignoring the democratic principles of balance and fairness.

Syd Weidman
2 - 599 Wardlaw Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3L 0M3

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