The Buymusic.ca Blog

A blog by a Music Consumer for Music Consumers

Bill C-11 – What Now ?

Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, has passed and will become law shortly.

This means you will no longer be able to perform private copies from copy protected recordings and that the sale of software and devices enabling consumers to make backups of pre-recorded DVDs and blu-rays will be forbidden in Canada.

The sale of multi-region DVD or blu-ray players could also be restricted in Canada though I believe this could be challenged legally because the importation of DVDs and blu-rays from other regions have not yet been made illegal.

I believe the playback of legally purchased material will not likely be targeted by law enforcement, the priority being unauthorized mass distributions on the internet and by vendors. But regional coding is a copy protection scheme that is technically protected by the digital copying provisions of Bill C-11.

Unfortunately this means that some consumers will not be able to legally playback films, concerts or music video compilations that are on a DVD or blu-ray disc whose regional coding is incompatible with their North American player, even when this material is not available via a North American distributor.

This material can be delayed or shelved indefinitely by North American distributors who have the rights to distribute it on Region 1 DVDs or Region A blu-rays in North America. And though some do eventually get released on region free discs, somewhere, many titles remain out of reach to Canadians.

Online film distributors like iTunesicon have helped but the issues remain in regards to the distribution of titles that have not reached a certain popularity in North America. But of course little can be done until clarifications are made in regards to this undistributed content and other issues including the Linux software issue.

Linux based operating systems use software that strip copy protection from DVDs and blu-rays to enable their playback. And some consumers prefer to use this software to view films on their Windows and Mac powered computers.

I personally prefer using Windows Media Center to occasionally play DVDs on my computer. But Microsofticon has said that some versions of Windows 8 will not include DVD playback in a May 2012 blog entry so I will likely be forced to playback DVDs and blu-ray discs using software from the DVD or blu-ray drive manufacturer in the future.

Yes, most of the major manufacturers will probably include software like
CinePlayer with their drives. But will DVD and blu-ray drive manufacturers be allowed to include Linux based software with their products to enable their consumers to view content ?

Ultimately the courts will decide whether the digital lock provisions apply to these situations and we wont know until then.

I suspect the members of parliament will simply ask people to consult attorneys for their interpretations of the new copyright act. But if I find information I will try to link it.

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.

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.

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.

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