Digital "Rights" Management, Digital Restrictions Management, Dishonest Relationship Misinformation

This is a generic acronym used to describe a system of software, often including technical measures, used by copyright holders who "claim" that this stops or reduces copyright infringement. DRM in fact does not affect those engaged in unlawful activities, and can only impose hidden digitally encoded contract terms on law abiding citizens.

Please see: Alphabet soup of acronyms: TPM, DRM, TCPA, RMS, RMI, Protecting property rights in a digital world.

The property rights statements I wish opposition parties were making.

Since Michael Geist had fun with a derivative of the statements from Ministers tony Clement and James Moore, I thought I would do the same.

While I am not a fan of levies on devices, I consider this a much lesser evil than non-owner locks on devices. I've written a modification of the statements with what I wished the opposition parties were saying.

Smoke and mirrors from Clement and Moore

Today Ministers Clement and Moore had a little show in Ottawa's Rideau Center where they made statements about the so-called "iPod tax". (See press release)

I find it frustrating that the Ministers claim to be so concerned about a levy on devices, while at the same time including legal support for non-owner locks on our devices in C-32. If I had to choose between non-owner locks or levies, I would choose levies every time. This whole exercise seems to be smoke and mirrors aimed at misdirecting technology owners from the attack on their rights embedded within C-32.

An honest expansion of cinema into the home

I have never hidden that I consider so-called Digital Rights Management (DRM) to be dishonest, often calling it Dishonest Relationship Misinformation. I have also suggested that fairness is a matter of law and not technology. I will use the expansion of cinema into the home to illustrate the differences.

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

IT property rights and the Xbox-Modding case

According to a Wired Magazine article by David Kravets, federal prosecutors have dropped their prosecution of the first case involving the DMCA and Xbox-modding on Thursday, “based on fairness and justice.” This is not to say that the US courts considered what was done to be legal, but that the methods used to investigate were inappropriate.

This case offers me an opportunity to discuss my own history and feelings on the matter.

Where do you draw the line with Canadian Copyright?

Canadian copyright is excessively complex, and makes illegal things which most Canadians don't even believe are illegal when you tell them. Given this complexity and over-coverage, I believe nearly every Canadian infringes copyright many times a week.

There is a line that each of us draws that fits our sense of right and wrong. It sits somewhere between recording a television show to watch later, and mass producing videos to be sold for profit. Both of these activities are illegal under current Canadian law. Most Canadians believe the first is a perfectly legitimate activity, even if they are part of that small minority that realize it is illegal in Canada. Most Canadians believe the second is wrong, know it is illegal, and agree it should be illegal.

No need for copyright law to be so complex

My opinion piece has been published in the November 15'th issue of The Hill Times. This was in reply to an opinion piece by lawyer James Gannon who took NDP MP Charlie Angus to task for something said in the House of Commons.

Using misinterpretations of the impacts of C-32 on real-world technology by Mr. Gannon's McCarthy Tétrault LLP colleague Barry Sookman, I demonstrated the complexity of Bill C-32's anti-circumvention rules.

I concluded by saying:

While I believe we should excuse Angus' usage of a few legal terms in a larger speech, we should be far more critical of those who promote excessively complex law that they are not always able to understand themselves. I believe that the more complex copyright law becomes, the less it will be possible for Canadians to understand and respect it. If the lobbyists promoting these laws get it wrong, how can average Canadians, including our children be expected to always get it right?

Thanks to MP Carol Hughes for mentioning my name in C-32 debate

The following is a letter I sent this morning. Thanks to Kevin McArthur for letting me know yesterday that my name was mentioned.

Mrs. Carol Hughes, MP for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing,

Thank you for mentioning my name, and a quote from my clause-by-clause analysis of the bill at: http://BillC32.ca/rwm-clause

"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."

Heritage committee to study vertical integration

The minutes of the Heritage Committee meeting of Thursday, October 21, 2010 includes the tabling/debate and approval of the following motion tabled by Charlie Angus:

That given the dramatic ownership changes in the private television sector and the increasing move towards digital, mobile and next-generation viewing platforms that the Heritage committee examine: 1) the implications of increasing vertical integration between large content providers and ISP-mobile phone carriers; 2) the role and viability of small and independant television broadcasters; 3) the role of the CBC in an increasingly changed media viewing landscape; 4) the role of the CRTC in ensuring diversity of voices in a changing media landscape and; 5) the role of the Canada Media Fund and other funding mechanisms in ensuring the success of new programming on next generation media platforms.

I believe the committee must become aware of real-world "technical measures" alleged to protect copyright, which are in fact a less understood form of vertical integration.

Charlie Angus tables petitions concerned about digital locks

From the Hansard for October 18, 2010

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to bring forward a petition from people who are concerned about the misuse of digital rights management to digital locks on copyrighted material. Of specific concern is the move by the government to support the sacrosanct protection for digital locks that will override existing copyright rights that exist for Canadian citizens, educators, consumers, people who buy products and for people who use copyrighted works. They are not able to access them because the digital locks placed on top of them interfere with legal rights.

We know that many of the WIPO compliant countries have dealt with the issue of digital locks by ensuring that those that remain on products are not counterfeited or broken. However, in other WIPO compliant countries they have a balance so that citizens are still able to use and be educated with materials that they have a legal right to.

The Conservative government, of course, has it all wrong in terms of digital rights management.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to restore some sense of balance between the rights of creators and ensuring protection for copyrighted works, but also ensuring that we have a vibrant domain where people can actually access works within a digital realm.

Why the ease of circumventing locks doesn't matter.

Andrew Currie posted an article to his Open Attitude blog titled The gate at the top of the stairs where he talks about a scenario with a real world lock, and made the connection to "software locks and restrictions on our digital media". The overall message can be seen when he said, "the sole point I’m trying to make here is that all locks — physical or otherwise — can be broken; many of them much easier than you’d think".

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