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 real cost of free

A great essay from Canadian born science fiction author and human rights activist Cory Doctorow.

You know who peddles false hope to naive would-be artists? People who go around implying that but for all those internet pirates, there'd be full creative employment for all of us. That the reason artists earn so little is because our audiences can't be trusted, that once we get this pesky internet thing solved, there'll be jam tomorrow for everyone. If you want to damn someone for selling a bill of goods to creative people, go after the DRM vendors with their ridiculous claims about copy-proof files; go after the labels who say that wholesale lawsuits against fans on behalf of artists (where labels get to pocket the winnings) are good business; go after the studios who are suing to make it impossible for anyone to put independent video on the internet without a giant corporate legal budget.

Copyright is no justification for digital locks

The Province has published my reply to an article by Stephen Ellis. In my reply I describe how digital locks are harmful to creators, and how he got his analogy to other physical and digital locks wrong.

Bill C-32: My Perspective on the Key Issues

Law professor Michael Geist has posted an article where he offers his opinion on what he sees as the 5 key issues that are being discussed in the context of C-32. My opinion on these issues are in the C-32 FAQ, but I thought it would be interesting for me to write about the same five issues.

The long computer registry and IT control

(Note: In the 41'st parliament bill C-32 became bill C-11, and Bill C-391 became bill C-19)

When meeting with some members of parliament I have used a gun control analogy to explain digital locks applied to communications technology. A minor form of gun control is being hotly debated in parliament and the media in the context of a private members Bill C-391, which has "repeal of long-gun registry" in its title. A highly controversial form of third-party control over communications technology is part of copyright Bill C-32, even though this key aspect of the bill is not yet adequately understood.

I felt it might be an interesting thought experiment to compare and contrast these two proposals and the political debate surrounding them. In my case this thinking was useful for me to better understand the opponents of the Canadian firearms registry, and thus it may be helpful in allowing others to better understand opponents to legal protection for technological measures.

Jailbreaking must be legal, but should you do it?

You will be hard pressed to find someone who find the practise of applying technology locks to someone elses property more reprehensible than I do. This is what I feel of the practise of companies like Apple and Sony who sell technology where they, not the owner, retain the keys to the technology and treat their owners as attackers of their own property. I believe that this practise should be clearly outlawed, while backward facing legislation such as the Conservative Bill C-32 seeks to legally protect it.

While this is true, I recommend against what has become the most common form of jailbreaking.

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

ZeroPaid Interviews Russell McOrmond 2 – Canadian Bill C-32

Drew Wilson of ZeroPaid has posted a 3 part interview (Part 1,Part 2,Part 3)with me discussing Copyright and Bill C-32.

Why legal protection for technical measures is controversial

On August 14'th I gave a presentation on legal protection for technological measures, and why this policy doesn't fit well within Copyright law (Slides, link to audio recording)

Summary: The types of activities which copyright regulates all assume that you already have access to content. Copyright never concerned itself with concept of access, which was left to other laws.

Technical measures can restrict access, but can't in the real world directly restrict the types of activities that copyright regulates.

Copyright and technical measures are disjoint, but technical measures and other areas of law such as contract and e-commerce overlap.

Is technology useful for stopping an authorized person from doing things which Copyright regulates? Should we radically change "Copyright" to address this problem, or is this a non-Copyright issue?

A simple guide to copyright

I was thinking about the recent DMCA rulemaking in the US, which led me to this "simple guide to copyright".

You can legally do pretty much anything you like with your own property,

unless it's a "fixation" of a copyrighted work and what you want do is a right granted to the rightsholder,

unless it's covered by one of the "fair dealing" exceptions.

That's not too bad. Of course, in the US, or in Canada if C-32 passes as-is, you need to add a couple more lines:

Federal Bill C-32 tramples areas of provincial jurisdiction

2010-06-11: I sent a letter this afternoon to my Member of Provincial parliament for Ottawa South, who happens to be Premier Dalton McGuinty. I copied it to my federal MP, as well as to Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s New Democrats, and Tim Hudak, Leader of the Ontario PC Party.

Update 2010-07-29: I have sent an additional letter to Mr. McGuinty.

Thank you for your letter of July 27, 2010, in response to the letter I sent on June 11, 20101. I hope that you will reconsider the response, which was to say that it would be inappropriate for you to comment on a federal piece of legislation.

I forgot to include a link to the FAQ on why I disagree with what CMEC has been asking for.

Negative effects of the DMCA in the US

Interesting statistics from Copyright and Technology Blog :

[...] academic research into DRM and other rights technologies in the United States has diminished to virtually nil.

(For example, a search of IEEE shows that of all digital rights-related research papers published from 2008 to the present, 40% were from China, 27% were from the rest of Asia, 20% were from Europe, and less than 4% were from the United States. Spain by itself had more activity than the US.)

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