private copying

Another Cash Grab?

The Copyright Act is being reviewed by the Canadian Government and some Canadians are of course concerned that this will include an extension of private copying levies to cell phones and the possibility of websites being blocked for minor copyright violations.

Unfortunately the government has been pretty quiet about this since their December 17th, 2017 press release and I didn’t want to speculate. But a line in the sand needs to be drawn, regardless of what is and isn’t being considered in the closed door meetings they might be having with foreign lobbyists.

I don’t think cell phones should be subject to the private copying levy because streaming is the preferred method of obtaining music on this device according to Music Canada, some customers listening to radio on these devices. And the possibility of having my site blocked because I accidentally linked a site that decided to offer pirated music is just absurd but these kind of proposals have been made in other countries.

This isn’t about giving artists more of their dues but giving labels more money. And streaming is where the improvements are needed when it comes to royalties for artists, so I see no point in levying cell phone storage.

The Copyright Board proposed levying hard drives and microSD memory cards in 2014 but that propose was rejected because a “recording audio medium” is defined by Part VIII, Section 79 of the Copyright Act as “a recording medium, regardless of its material form, onto which a sound recording may be reproduced and that is of a kind ordinarily used by individual consumers for that purpose”.

A cell phone’s primary function is communication, not the receipt, storage and playback of music. And this device is also used to take and view photographs and videos.

It makes no sense to levy this device for royalties for music and nothing else. And this slippery slope is not advantageous for consumers, who would object to paying levies for storing photographs, video and games on their new smartphone, or tablet.

I don’t like being gouged on data fees so I don’t listen to music, watch videos or play video games on mine now. And I seriously doubt i’d enjoy paying more for a newer model, for services I wouldn’t use.

Do we really want to burden the cell phone industry with this? And when it comes to blocking, this can be bypassed with Virtual Private Network services, so is the government going to go after those as well in the name of copyright?

VPNs are used by people who travel and use public wi-fi, for security reasons. Do we really want to loose access to this service over piracy? When a sharp decline in music piracy was observed in 2017 by Music Canada?

A form has been made available by Open Media to provide comments to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on these issues.

Please submit this form and share this link and your opinions on social media before September 17th, 2018. Thank you.

Save on Music, Books and DVDs at Indigo.ca

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.

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.

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.