My first letter to the new Heritage and Industry Ministers.

Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2007, sent in e-Mail. This version cleaned up to read better in HTML. Also published on: p2pnet

Dear Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry,
Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Canadian Heritage,

Congratulations on your new cabinet positions. As you likely know, one of the joint responsibilities you will have is Copyright, an area of policy that is of great interest and concern to me as a software author, as well as an internet/security consultant.

A recent column by Michael Geist titled "A Digital Economy Blueprint For the New Industry Minister" (Website, appeared in the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen and the Tyee) included the following:

"These include provisions that formally legalize recording television shows (time shifting), permit personal backup copies of CDs and DVDs (format shifting), expand fair dealing to allow for innovative new business models, eliminate the private copying levy, and establish a close link between legal protection for copy-control technologies and actual copyright infringement."

While I strongly agree with the suggestion that Canada's Fair Dealings regime must be modernized to a living Fair Use regime which legalizes time, space and format shifting, I don't believe the last component goes far enough.

I believe any legal protection for so-called "copy-control"
technologies should have clear limitations such that they can never circumvent the property rights of Information Technology owners.

  1. A digital lock should only be able to be applied to something which you own, not something which someone else owns.

Most of the controversial forms of so-called "Digital
Rights/Restrictions Management" include not only digital locks on content, but on the devices which are able to access them.

Stewart Baker, US Department of Homeland Security's assistant secretary for policy, speaking to a group of copyright holders in 2005, had the following to say:

"It's very important to remember that it's your intellectual property -- it's not your computer. And in the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it's important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days."

  • A digital lock should not be abused to limit interoperability of content to only devices which have had locks applied to them by other than the owner.
  • This is the second half of the controversial forms of "copy-control". This technique should not only not be legally protected, but should be prohibited as clarifications to existing competition (tied selling) and consumer rights legislation.

    Note: Since the areas that these controversial techniques impact are largely related to contracts and property, which are provincial jurisdiction, some lawyers are speculating whether these types of provisions being added to the federal Copyright Act will be constitutional.

    I am a coordinator of a group that host petitions on this and related issues. Signatures to our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights have already been tabled in parliament. I hope that both of you will consider meeting with members of our community to ensure that IT property rights are fully protected in any future changes to "Copyright" legislation.

    I live and work in Ottawa, and can meet you at your convenience.

    Thank you.

    Russell McOrmond
    [duplicate contact information removed for website]

    See also:

    Copyright-related Policy summary for CLUE: Canada's Association for Open Source

    Petition to protect Information Technology property rights

    English petition text

    Grenmch petition text

    Summary of the Petition to protect Information Technology Property Rights