The politics of C-32

The following was posted as a comment on the Maclans education blog.

I have to really wonder about the politics of C-32.

There are two issues which are getting undeserved attention.

Fair Dealings expansion to education: After C-32, Canadian copyright law will still be tilted more in favour of copyright holders (sometimes authors, but predominantly publishers) than the United States. Most of the relevant educational publishers are North American, not Canadian, and Canada is comparatively a small part of the marketplace. The idea that Canada getting a tiny bit closer to US policy will in any way harm the legitimate interests of publishers is laughable.

The expansion of the existing private copying regime for recorded music to devices (currently only applies to audio recording media): This is not something that is in a bill that was passed at second reading, so is highly unlikely to be part of the final bill any more than any other random off-topic concept will be part of the bill. If opposition members were actually concerned with this they would have ensured the bill was sent to committee before second reading. The number of people who are not recipients of this compulsory licensing regime (like actors — this is a regime that only applies to recorded music) that are putting all their eggs in this basked only shows that these people don’t understand the basics of the policy they are complaining about.

On the flip side, the most dangerous aspect of C-32 for Canadian creators is technological protection measures (TPMs), the so-called “digital locks”. Many non-technical people are duped into thinking that copyright holders manage the keys for these “digital locks”, and thus the locks benefit them, but the reality is quite different. First, there are two locks not one (one on content, and one on devices that are “allowed” to access that content), and in both cases it is the technology provider an not the owners (copyright holder, owner of device) that holds the keys.

For no other type of property would this be considered. We would never legally protect non-owner locks to all guns in a country where many are uncomfortable with the mere registration of long guns. We would never legally protect non-owner locks on our homes, alleging this was necessary to protect the insurance industry from fraud. We would never legally protect non-owner locks on our cars, allegedly to ensure that automobiles could never be used as a getaway vehicle.

This is a massive threat to the rights of copyright holders and technology owners… and yet these other non-issues are taking up so much time at committee and in the reporting of the bill.