copyright reform

Publishers Association Threatens Canada

A “coalition of international, regional and national publishers associations” has sent a letter to our government threatening retaliation for Bill C-11 with a WTO complaint.

Apparently they dislike several exemptions provided by the bill :

“As currently drafted, however, many provisions of C-11 may allow a broad group of public and private institutions and organizations to copy and distribute works under a vague and intentionally broad educational exception in ways that publishers and authors license, thereby promoting strife and litigation, and potentially violating all three elements of the three-step test.

Similar concerns also relate to the exceptions for non-commercial user generated content, the display exception and the tests and examination exception, the exception relating to publicly available material on the internet, and the inter-library loan exception.”

The International Publishers Association is comprised of about 60 international organizations from 50 nations and is based in Geneva.

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.

“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.

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.