Bill C-11

Cloud Services & PVRs At Risk ?

Ottawa professor Micheal Geist has posted an interesting entry on his blog about the potential risks for Cloud services and the usage of personal video recorders in Canada after the passing of Bill C-11.

Apparently telecommunication giants Rogers and Shaw and voiced some concerns about provision 31.1 (5) in Bill C-11 :

Subject to subsection (6), a person who, for the purpose of allowing the telecommunication of a work or other subject-matter through the Internet or another digital network, provides digital memory in which another person stores the work or other subject-matter does not, by virtue of that act alone, infringe copyright in the work or other subject-matter.

Concerned about the vagueness of this provision, the Liberal Party Of Canada had attempted to introduce an amendment in committee but failed.

On March the 26th, the House Of Commons will be in session and the amended version of Bill C-11 will likely pass through its third reading shortly after.

Few Changes To Bill C-11

Bill C-11 appears to have passed through the committee review almost as is.

The amendments proposed by the entertainment industry in regards to a levy on mp3 players and additional limitations on fair dealing and user generated content have been rejected.

Also rejected were the calls for the identification of internet users and the introduction of RIAA style prosecutions to Canada that could have resulted in the prosecution of social networking sites like Facebook and search engines like Google

The prosecution of sites and services that “provide a service primarily for the purpose of enabling acts of copyright infringement” may still be a possibility. But this is expected to go through further processes. And whether website blocking will be part of these processes is unknown.

Unfortunately, the technological protection measure provisions remain intact.

This means private copying will remain limited to material that has not been copy protected and individuals will not be able to obtain equipment or software that enables them to view films from other regions.

Canadians are able to view Region 0 DVDs, Region 1 DVDs and Region A Blu-Ray discs on their store bought equipment. But unfortunately some films are not released in those region codes.

Blu-Ray regional coding may have resulted in better access to Asian films. But many European films appear to stay off Canadian shelves because of their lack of popularity in the states.

Academy Award nominated films and film festival winners do get through but the lesser known titles and some older films, concerts and music video compilations are generally placed in limbo in North America.

Hopefully these films will make their way onto online services like iTunes and Netflix in the future. But I think it is rather ridiculous to demand Canadian consumers purchase DVDs and Blu-ray discs from North American distributors that either refuse to carry films or delay their release for years.

Blu-ray discs and DVDs released in North America have always been my first choice. Importing from Europe is expensive because of the shipping and handling so I’d rather purchase them locally. But how can I purchase something that is not available here ?

Where are many of the Louis De Funes films ? Where are the Region 0 or Region 1 versions of a-ha‘s “Headlines and Deadlines“, Johnny Hallyday‘s “Master Serie” and Les Rita Mitsouko‘s special edition of “Bestov” ?

I’m sure I am not alone in being frustrated by a lack of selection of foreign, non-Hollywood film and music DVDs and Blu-Ray discs in Canada. And the technological protection measure provisions isolates the Canadian consumer from this material, which is unacceptable.

Bill C-11 Under Review Today

Bill C-11, a.k.a the Copyright Modernization Act, is now being reviewed in committee.

This committee will review the proposed amendments, clause by clause, and will make adjustments in response to requests by interested parties.

Unfortunately numerous groups have requested major amendments that could complicate matters for consumers and Canadian internet users.

Members of the music industry are not only asking for a levy on mp3 players and serious restrictions to the fair dealing/user generated content clauses. But they are also asking for SOPA and PIPA like measures that include the blocking of foreign web sites and the removal of online content without court oversight.

Other industry groups have also called for the identification of internet users, again without legal oversight, and the introduction of RIAA style prosecutions to Canada with amendments that are so vague as to possibly result in the prosecution of social networking sites like Facebook and search engines like Google.

The Supreme Court of Canada has had previous rulings on fair dealing, the prosecution of internet providers in regards to copyright and the proposed levies on mp3 players. But it appears some members of the music industry don’t care about these rulings.

They also don’t care about the many concerns voiced by the public and associations representing students and librarians, as made apparent by their rhetoric.

They’ve even gone as far as to attempt to pressure the Canadian Bar Association to retract their official opposition to the questionable provisions in the Copyright Modernization Act.

In essence they’re willing to allow the public to be subjected to vague and possibly unconstitutional regulations, that will be questioned in law for years, when exemptions for fair dealing and private copying would in no way hinder their industry.

Under the premise of the protection of their industry, they will subject consumers to more copy protection schemes like that of the Sony Rootkit, that have failed and endangered their interests in the past.

There are currently two petitions that may be of interest to those who oppose these amendments :

Please sign these petitions as soon as possible and contact your local MP in regards to your concerns.

Thank You.

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.

Latvia Says No To ACTA / Bill C-11 Update

Latvia is the latest European nation to stop their ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. And it appears that Germany wants to hold off on signing in response to the public protests in their country.

Unfortunately Bill C-11 has progressed through the first and second reading in the House Of Commons here in Canada, with little to no response to the overwhelming opposition to the digital locks provisions and SOPA like website blocking.

The public has spoken, both in the public consultations on Bill C-32 and with recent letters and petitions against Bill C-11.

It is clear that Canadians do not want contradictory policies on private copying and SOPA like enforcement of our Copyright Act. Over 32,000 Canadians have signed the Openmedia.ca petition, including yours truly. And 74,000 “liked” the petition on Facebook.

It is a matter of record. Members of Parliament have received letters and emails conveying concern about or opposition to several provisions in Bill C-11, yet the current government has failed to address this correspondence.

This bill was rushed through it’s second reading in the House of Commons today, with little time for debate, and is up for review by a committee, who will analyze and amend the bill.

Hopefully they will notice how contradictory the technological protections measures are and amend them accordingly.

SOPA Lives With Bill C-11 And ACTA

Protests against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement are under way in Europe.

Like the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act legislation in the United States, this international trade agreement contains many questionable regulations in regards to the enforcement of intellectual property laws on the internet.

Furthermore, Section 5 (Paragraph 6) of this agreement explicitly forbids the circumvention of copy protection regardless of the private copying exemptions that our government may enable in the future :

6. In order to provide the adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies referred to in paragraph 5, each Party shall provide protection at least against:

(a) to the extent provided by its law:

(i) the unauthorized circumvention of an effective technological measure carried out knowingly or with reasonable grounds to know; and

(ii) the offering to the public by marketing of a device or product, including computer programs, or a service, as a means of circumventing an effective technological measure; and

(b) the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a device or product, including computer programs, or provision of a service that:

(i) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing an effective technological measure; or

(ii) has only a limited commercially significant purpose other than circumventing an effective technological measure.

Region coded DVDs and Blu-Rays are copy protected so this clause criminalizes the copying of these DVDs and Blu-Rays to other devices.

It also criminalizes the distribution of devices that have been altered to play material from outside of a person’s region and software that can be used to bypass copy protection on music and film.

Unfortunately, Bill C-11‘s technological protection measures provisions were written to be compatible with this agreement, prior to any consultation with the public. And the current government in Canada insists on keeping this provision in when public consultations for Bill C-32 have resulted in overwhelming opposition and concern to this provision and others.

Private copying has been part of our Copyright Act since 1997. We have been able to copy music for private use, as defined by Section 80 of our copyright act since then. But apparently the current government believes it is impossible to grant an ability to copy material that is copy protected for private use, even when the current limitations stipulated in our copyright act could suffice.

According to these limitations material that is copied for private use cannot be sold or rented out, “or by way of trade exposing or offering for sale or rental”. It cannot be distributed, “whether or not for the purpose of trade”, nor communicated “to the public by telecommunication”, nor performed or “caused to be performed in public”.

Private copying clearly does NOT enable internet piracy or the illicit trade of counterfeit DVDs and Blu-Rays, so I see no reason as to why the current government insists on adding a specific provision to our Copyright Act to disallow the circumvention of technological protection measures for the reproduction of material for private purposes.

To listen to or view copy protected material a consumer must use software that decrypts and copies the resulting copy to memory or a hard drive for playback. And though temporary the resulting file is a copy from which copy protection was circumvented by a software program or device.

If an exemption for private copying were allowed, the recipient would be the same and the circumvention would be the same. The resulting copy would again be copied to a device or memory for playback, with very strict limitations in regards to distribution.

ACTA and Bill C-11 proposes the criminalization of software and devices using this premise that these can be used for illegal purposes when in reality any software or device used to decrypt copy protected CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs can be used for illegal purposes.

In the case of telecommunications, anyone can stream music and film from legally purchased devices to the net. They can also play music or films in public without paying the necessary license fees using any DVD or Blu-Ray player.

In essence it pushes both presumptions of guilt in regards to the Canadian consumer and prejudice in regards to the manufacturers of DVD and Blu-Ray decrypting software. And regardless of the idiotic rhetoric, many individuals and associations are concerned about the precedents these set.

It is important as a Canadian consumer that you voice your concerns in regards to ACTA and Bill C-11 to your local Member of Parliament as soon as possible. The public need to make it clear that they will not stand for unbalanced copyright reform in Canada.