copy protection

Bill C-11 Is Now Law

Bill C-11’s amendments to our Copyright Act have come into force today.

This means we are now no longer able to perform private copies, copies for personal use, from copy protected recordings.

We can continue to make personal copies from legally purchased recordings that are not protected by digital rights management. But copy protected CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays can now no longer be copied, even for backup.

It should be noted that the vast majority of CDs are not copy protected anyway, copy protection having failed in 2005 because of the Sony BMG rootkit issues. And the music industry appears to have adopted the mp3, iTunesicon having included an ability to convert music into that format in their software. But some consumers are still concerned that they could be subjected to experimental copy protection schemes in the future.

To prevent music recordings from being leaked prior to their release date the labels could experiment with copy protection schemes within the industry and later attempt to adopt this format in their distribution to consumers, causing compatibility and security issues.

The technological protection measure provisions were primarily added to protect the film and software industries, but we have yet to see their interpretations in action. And as consumers we will need to remain vigilant.

I will be keeping an eye on these issues and will post additional information as it becomes available.

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.

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.

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.

RIAA Responds To Protests

Well, a RIAA spokesperson had responded to the SOPA and PIPA protests in the NY Times. And of course, it’s the same old rhetoric.

Apparently he thinks everyone that opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act were either severely misinformed or want everything for free.

Of course RIAA are doing their best to “inform” people of their spin, that the industry is suffering. And by “inform” I mean suing Americans and foreigners willy nilly. But it is obvious that the public is not buying their claims.

For two decades every expert in the industry has stated the music industry would shift from physical formats to digital. But they resisted, to their detriment, and wish to continue resisting even when international music sales are growing substantially.

It’s obvious that they’re crying foul on behalf of the manufacturers, who will be unable to capitalize on format shifts in the past.

These manufacturers, many of which are owned by the labels, profited from format shifting, when people upgraded from vinyl to 8-track, from 8-track to cassette and from cassette to CD. And if they had their way they’d get a royalty whenever someone copies a recording to a device.

This is an industry that thinks that because you aren’t paying to copy your legally purchased mp3s to your mp3 player that you are a “thief”. That you are just like those pirates that mass produce CDs and DVDs and sell them in pawn shops, farmer’s markets and online.

No ? Then why are these people lobbying the current government in Canada to disallow private copying of copy protected works with Bill C-11 ? Why are attempting to push a levy mp3 players in Canada ?

We’ve heard the excuse that some people use the internet to download mp3 files illegally. But have they ever produced a study proving the majority of these illegally downloaded recordings end up on mp3 players ?

Of course not.

They don’t want to distinguish previewing and private copying from illegal downloads. They’d rather just use one word, “infringement“, to gloss over the issues and call pretty much everything piracy to get their way with the technologically inept politicians.

Some members of the industry are also currently attempting to obtain royalties for the 30 second previews retailers posts online in Canada, in order to disqualify music downloads as “fair dealing” research for Canadians.

The Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement impose RIAA‘s views in regards to fair dealing and private copying on foreign nations.

They circumvent the democratic processes of nations who have established their own legislation on these subjects and an undue influence in regards to policy is imposed on nations that are undergoing copyright reforms.

It is obvious that the inflexibility of ATCA in regards to fair dealing and copy protection is causing the current government in Canada to refuse to alter Bill C-11 in accordance to the public’s wishes.

This proves that our political process has been polluted by foreign interests and SOPA/Protect IP like legislation in the United States could further undermine Canada’s democracy and sovereignty.

When Bill C-11 was introduced as Bill C-32, the Canadian Bar Association openly questioned the workability and purpose of some of the provisions, including the fair dealing and technological protection measure provisions.

They also questioned the need for additional legislation to address unauthorized distribution on the internet, so there is clearly a disconnect in-between the people of Canada and the legislation’s proponents.

This is clearly the case in the United States as well.

Bill C-11’s Digital Locks Provisions – Why ?

The digital lock provisions included in Bill C-11 are meant to curb the circumvention of “technological protection measures“, to halt piracy. But unfortunately many consumers currently circumvent digital locks to perform private copies of music recordings or to view films that are unavailable in their region.

At the moment Canadians are able to purchase music on iTunes and use this
program to convert their legally purchased ACC files to the mp3 format.

These consumers can also purchase region free DVD or blu-ray players from Amazon.com to play legally purchased discs that are not available in the formats compatible with North American players.

Neither of the above acts result in the unauthorized, uncompensated distribution of copyrighted works to third parties yet these acts could technically be forbidden by Section 41 of the Copyright Act if Bill C-11 passes.

Private Copying, as defined in Part VIII of our Copyright Act, is not exempt in Bill C-11. And Section 41 explicitly forbids the manufacturing, importation, sale or rental of technologies, devices or componants whose primary function is the circumvention of copy protection.

It appearently doesn’t matter that the copyright owners were compensated when the recordings were legally purchased from legitimate vendors and that if it weren’t for copy protection that these acts would be considered private copying in law.

The authors of Bill C-11 insist on labeling these acts “piracy”, even when consent is implied by the sale of these recordings to law abiding Canadian consumers.

The American entertainment industry has yet to specify what losses are incured in the private copying of copy protected works. They also failed to specify how they are loosing funds on legally purchased foreign recordings they refuse to sell in Canada.

Why are we allowing this undue, unjustified foreign influence on our Parlamentary processes ?