Copyright Modernization Act

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.

WHY SOPA/PIPA CONCERNS ME

Though American both the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act allow American special interest groups to impose their interpretations of United States copyright law on foreign nationals and foreign businesses located outside of the United States.

As Canadians we should be concerned because we have different laws in regards to Copyright and we’re in the middle of reforming our copyright act.

Works are made available to Canadians in the public domain two decades before these same works are made available to Americans and Europeans so if I were to publish Ernest Hemingway‘s works on this site, for example, I could be subjected to litigation by his American publishers.

Though legal to publish in Canada, his works could have my site removed from the American search engines and cause my site to loose affiliations and funding from American companies and individual American donators. And it doesn’t appear to matter that my site is hosted in Canada because the American copyright lobby have laid claim to the .com domain in the TVShack case.

When British citizens are subjected to extradition over linking to copyrighted material, a legal act within the United Kingdom, it is obvious that restraint would not happen after the passing of this legislation. And I have in the past inadvertently linked copyrighted material.

I have had requests for links that sounded legitimate but were not. And nothing stops an illegitimate profiteer from buying a legitimate site or domain that I’ve linked in the past, without my knowledge.

I do my best to clean up my listings. But people could also spam this site, an illegal act in Canada, yet I could still be subjected to the SOPA condoned retribution. The legislation is that dangerously vague.

Yes, there are sites in Russia and China that blatantly violate copyright but SOPA is a slippery slope.

Bill C-11 Debate Scheduled For Today

Bill C-11 is scheduled to be debated in the House Of Commons today, apparently under time restraints according to the Projected Order Of Business.

Hopefully the questions on the technological protection measures will be blunt and to the point :

  • In what manner are artists and copyright owners harmed by private copying from copy protected works ? And why does this harm not exist in private copying from works that are not copy protected ?
  • In what manner are film makers harmed by the private viewing of legally purchased films that failed to be distributed in Canada ? And does the sale of this material to Canadians by legitimate retailers and distributors not imply consent to their private use by Canadians ?

The Private Copying section of our Copyright Act distinguished private use from piracy and in my opinion the technical protection measures provisions in Bill C-11 are a step back.

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 ?