Wednesday, October 1: Bill C-61 & Copyright Law in Canada

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group (WPIRG) and the Waterloo Students for the Information Commons (WSIC) are hosting me for a talk on Bill C-61 and Copyright Law in Canada this Wednesday, October 1. See details via, Facebook, YaHoo.

The slides and recording of the talk are available online.

I wanted to add something for local Kitchener voters during this election, so sent the following message to all the candidates in the 3 area ridings. Thus far I have received no response.

Dear Candidates,

I will be giving a talk at the University of Waterloo on Wednesday, October 1'st (A week and a day from now). The talk will be about Copyright, new media, and specifically the Conservative Bill C-61 (tabled 2008) and the Liberal Bill C-60 (tabled 2005).

Given we are in the middle of an election campaign, those attending the talk will ask me who best understands this issue. This is an issue where the individual people elected are far more important than the parties, and we have already observed major policy changes with the change of one issue critic within a party.

If you have a personal position on these two bills, both titled "An Act to amend the Copyright Act", this would be appreciated.

The area I will focus on in the introduction of my talk is legal protection for "technological measures". The following is an analogy to a transportation technology to help clarify the issue.

Imagine a bill which said that car owners who wish to use public roads are no longer allowed to drive themselves, or choose their own drivers. Instead the car is locked by the manufacturers who decide what drivers will be allowed. The bill would make it illegal for the owner of the car to unlock the car in order to drive themselves or hire their own drivers. Anyone who provides car unlocking services, or technologies to unlock cars, would also be violating the law (and in some cases, committing an activity that rises to the level of being criminal).

If we switch from talking about a 'car' to talking about communications technology, this analogy becomes a fairly accurate description of the most controversial aspect of Bill C-61.

Do you believe that this is an appropriate response to copyright infringement, or any other unlawful uses of information technology? If you were to compare the severity of illegal activities one can carry out with information technology (such as our home computers, portable media devices, VCR's, camcorders, DVRs, etc) and transportation technology (such as a car), where would you place non-commercial copyright infringement?

Thank you for any responses. Please indicate with any responses whether I may post what you have said to our BLOG.