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.