Canadian Law

Liberal Party Propose Amendment

In response to the numerous groups calling for an amendment allowing the circumvention of copy protection for non-infringement purposes, the Liberal Party of Canada have proposed an amendment that would alter the following definition in our Copyright Act :

41. The following definitions apply in this section and in sections 41.1 to 41.21. “circumvent” means,

(a) in respect of a technological protection measure within the meaning of paragraph (a) of the definition “technological protection measure”, to descramble a scrambled work or decrypt an encrypted work or to otherwise avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate or impair the technological protection measure, for any infringing purpose, unless it is done with the authority of the copyright owner; and

(b) in respect of a technological protection measure within the meaning of paragraph (b) of the definition “technological protection measure”, to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate or impair the technological protection measure for any infringing purpose.

I believe the official opposition, the New Democrat Party, will support this amendment. And a petition has been made available though the Liberal Party Of Canada for Canadians to sign here.

Major Blunder On Lawful Access

Apparently Minister of Public Safety Vic Towes introduced Bill C-30 in the House Of Commons without full knowledge of the content of this bill.

When questioned about Section 17 of this bill on CBC Radio program The House today, the Minister was surprised by the provisions included in that section.

“This is the first time that I’m hearing this somehow extends ordinary police emergency powers [to telecommunications]. In my opinion, it doesn’t. And it shouldn’t.”

In response to this interview New Democrat leadership candidate Paul Dewar has issued a statement asking Vic Toews to resign :

“First he introduced Bill C-30 which undermines Canadians’ online privacy. Then he accused Canadians who raised privacy concerns of supporting child pornography. Today we learned that he had not even reviewed the most intrusive provisions of the bill before introducing it in the House of Commons.”

Bill C-30 is currently in committee.

The MPAA & RIAA On Private Copying

The Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America have issued a join statement against the circumvention of copy protection for private copying.

On page 47 of their February 10th, 2012 statement the associations claim that there is no need for an exemption (in the States) because copies are available for purchase for numerous devices and “the inability to access a work on the device of one’s choosing is a mere inconvenience that does not justify an exemption“.

At the moment Canadians are not eligible to obtain “low cost” copies from most of the DVD/Blu-Ray programs mentioned in the American report.

We do have access to some digital copy titles. But these are generally included in the more expensive film packages (i.e “combo packs“) and many of these digital copy titles are time limited.

I believe digital copies with expiry dates are unfair to the consumer, who purchases the right to copy the material to a computer or portable device.

The ability to perform a digital copy is prominent on the packaging of these “combo packs” so it only logical to conclude that the consumer sees this ability as a feature and has chosen to purchase these “combo packs” for the ability, at extra cost.

That said, a nominal cost to perform a private copy would probably be the best option for the consumer.

Software is the best option for individuals who wish to make multiple private copies. But the entertainment industry should probably consider advertisement funded private copies to reduce the cost of a private copy after an initial purchase of a DVD or Blu-Ray disc by the consumer.

Whilst downloading a private copy a consumer could be shown numerous commercials for products or upcoming film and television features, like those found at the beginning of most DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.

Another option would be to offer Canadian consumers free downloads from existing services, thus promoting the sale of paid products on those services. There are numerous services available to Canadians including Bearshare and iMesh, who offer music videos, and iTunes and Netflix, who offer music and film downloads.

Some digital copies are available from these services and I suspect cloud services will become the consumer’s choice when it comes to private copying in the future, as it enables consumers to download or stream content on numerous devices.

“We Will Entertain Amendments”

In response to concerns about privacy and judicial oversight, the Conservative government has stated that they would be open to amendments to Bill C-30 in committee.

Cited as the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act, this bill enables the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Commissioner of Competition and police services through-out Canada access to subscriber information without warrants whilst investigating offenses under their mandate.

On March 9th, 2011, a joint statement by the federal and provincial privacy commissioners of Canada was issued in response to the previous proposed legislation. And the concerns listed in that statement and in the October 26th, 2011 statement issued by the Office of The Privacy Commissioner of Canada remain with Bill C-30.

Unfortunately there is also some concern in regards to the interpretation of evidence and preconceptions related to certain activities, like the use of peer to peer services or file services like Megaupload.

Yes, peer to peer programs are being used for illegal activities, as did Megaupload. But does it mean that all activity on these services are suspicious, requiring the collection of information from the users of these services ?

Section 16, subsection (2)(b) may also enable foreign police services to access this information, which could then be subject to their local laws and their inherent weaknesses.

Groups like Anonymous have been able to hack into many of the aforementioned police services so how secure will the information be ? And what’s to stop criminals from abusing section 17, which compels internet and cell phone providers to give private information to any police officer upon receipt of an oral request ?

Hopefully these issues will be addressed with much more than the false dichotomy Canadians have been subjected to lately.

Bulgeria and Holland Put ACTA On Hold

Mashable.com reports that Bulgeria has decided to put their ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on hold “until it sees a clear and unified European stance on the treaty“. And Holland has decided to study ACTA further to determine if this agreement violates their country’s privacy legislation.

Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also recently decided to reconsider their ratification in response to public protests.

New Blank Audio Media Tariffs Proposed

The blank audio media tariffs proposed for 2014 were published in today’s Canada Gazette and are as follows :

  • 29 cents per recordable compact disc (CD-R, CD-RW, CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio)
  • 50 cents per microSD memory card with 1 gigabyte of memory or less
  • 1 dollar per microSD memory card with more that 1 gigabyte of memory but less than 8 gigabyte of memory
  • 3 dollars per microSD memory card with more than 8 gigabytes of memory

Of course the question remains on whether microSD memory cards are “ordinarily used by individual consumers” as an “audio recording medium“, as defined by Part VIII, Section 79 of our Copyright Act.

Personally I have yet to use these cards or any other non-embedded memory card for anything but photography and video. And I also know several individuals who use these cards in their netbooks as a storage medium for their documents. So I have serious doubts in regards to the claim that these memory cards qualify as “blank audio recording media“, especially those of a higher class.

I use class 10 SDHC memory cards for my high definition photography and videos, which are considerably more expensive than class 2 SD memory cards. And the latter is quite adequate for the recording and playback of 254 kbps music files.

According to the SD Association, MicroSD memory cards were manufactured for the mobile phone market. And though most mobile phones now record video in HD, a higher class of memory card is unnecessary for the playback of music on those devices.

Furthermore, mobile phones that include these memory cards at the time of purchase may contain ring tones, software and/or other data, which disqualify these cards as “blank“.

I suspect many memory card manufacturers and retailers will file their objections to these proposed tariffs, as they did in the past. But I also believe Canadian consumers who use these memory cards for photography, video and data storage should also voice their opinions on the matter.

Written objections to these proposed tariffs will of course be accepted by the Copyright Board until April 11th, 2012 at the following address :

GILLES MCDOUGALL
Secretary General
56 Sparks Street, Suite 800
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C9

Objections will be a matter of public record, so please be polite.

Thank you.