Stop Online Piracy Act

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.

RIAA Responds To Protests

Well, a RIAA spokesperson had responded to the SOPA and PIPA protests in the NY Times. And of course, it’s the same old rhetoric.

Apparently he thinks everyone that opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act were either severely misinformed or want everything for free.

Of course RIAA are doing their best to “inform” people of their spin, that the industry is suffering. And by “inform” I mean suing Americans and foreigners willy nilly. But it is obvious that the public is not buying their claims.

For two decades every expert in the industry has stated the music industry would shift from physical formats to digital. But they resisted, to their detriment, and wish to continue resisting even when international music sales are growing substantially.

It’s obvious that they’re crying foul on behalf of the manufacturers, who will be unable to capitalize on format shifts in the past.

These manufacturers, many of which are owned by the labels, profited from format shifting, when people upgraded from vinyl to 8-track, from 8-track to cassette and from cassette to CD. And if they had their way they’d get a royalty whenever someone copies a recording to a device.

This is an industry that thinks that because you aren’t paying to copy your legally purchased mp3s to your mp3 player that you are a “thief”. That you are just like those pirates that mass produce CDs and DVDs and sell them in pawn shops, farmer’s markets and online.

No ? Then why are these people lobbying the current government in Canada to disallow private copying of copy protected works with Bill C-11 ? Why are attempting to push a levy mp3 players in Canada ?

We’ve heard the excuse that some people use the internet to download mp3 files illegally. But have they ever produced a study proving the majority of these illegally downloaded recordings end up on mp3 players ?

Of course not.

They don’t want to distinguish previewing and private copying from illegal downloads. They’d rather just use one word, “infringement“, to gloss over the issues and call pretty much everything piracy to get their way with the technologically inept politicians.

Some members of the industry are also currently attempting to obtain royalties for the 30 second previews retailers posts online in Canada, in order to disqualify music downloads as “fair dealing” research for Canadians.

The Stop Online Piracy Act, Protect IP Act and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement impose RIAA‘s views in regards to fair dealing and private copying on foreign nations.

They circumvent the democratic processes of nations who have established their own legislation on these subjects and an undue influence in regards to policy is imposed on nations that are undergoing copyright reforms.

It is obvious that the inflexibility of ATCA in regards to fair dealing and copy protection is causing the current government in Canada to refuse to alter Bill C-11 in accordance to the public’s wishes.

This proves that our political process has been polluted by foreign interests and SOPA/Protect IP like legislation in the United States could further undermine Canada’s democracy and sovereignty.

When Bill C-11 was introduced as Bill C-32, the Canadian Bar Association openly questioned the workability and purpose of some of the provisions, including the fair dealing and technological protection measure provisions.

They also questioned the need for additional legislation to address unauthorized distribution on the internet, so there is clearly a disconnect in-between the people of Canada and the legislation’s proponents.

This is clearly the case in the United States as well.

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 Maher on SOPA

“I know that they’re saying that apparently this bill would somehow infringe on free speech. I didn’t read the bill. I don’t know. I don’t know if anybody who has even read the bill could predict that. But it seems like it might be a red herring because people just want to steal. Because they can. You know, I call it Caucasian looting. And just because you’re sitting at your computer in your pajama bottoms doesn’t mean doesn’t mean you’re not stealing” – Bill Maher on January 20th, 2012 episode of “Real Time”

Apparently he thinks everyone that opposed this law wants “free sh*t”, even after having admitted he hasn’t read the bill.

Dismissive, knee jerk generalizations in no way address the concerns brought forward by the NetCoalition, Consumers Federation Of America and ACLU.

I guess he didn’t bother to read their statement either.

A Protect IP Video

Americans can click here to write a letter to Congress about PIPA and SOPA. Canadians can also direct their American friends and relatives to the site at http://fightforthefuture.org/pipa.

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.