Canadian Copyright Reform Authors Know The Law Outlaws Circumvention Even If No Infringement… But Don't Seem To Care
from the have-they-learned-nothing dept
We’ve been expecting Canadian politicians to re-introduce last year’s bad copyright reform bill without any changes. Despite widespread public complaints over the bill, the supporters of the bill (who are being pressured heavily by US lobbyists and diplomats), insist that there’s no real issue and that those arguing against the bill are merely radical extremists.
Of course, as Michael Geist has discovered, by obtaining last year’s clause-by-clause document that explains the bill to Canadian Ministers, that those behind the bill seem to recognize that it goes way beyond copyright law in the arena of digital locks. That is, it’s against the law to circumvent digital locks even for non-infringing works and the common defenses against infringement are not allowed for the digital locks/anti-circumvention rules. This is not unlike the US, but it’s still quite troubling. Remember, this is from the Canadian government itself:
The Bill introduces new causes of action (such as those relating to TPMs and RMIs) that could be used in civil lawsuits regardless of whether or not there has been an infringement of copyright.
Generally, an owner of copyright in a work or other subject matter for which this prohibition has been contrevened has the same remedies as if this were an infringement of copyright (proposed s.41(2)). However, a contravention of this prohibition is not an infringement of copyright and the efences to infringement of copyright are not defences to these prohibitions.
As Geist notes, this might make the bill unconstitutional:
The constitution grants jurisdiction over copyright to the federal government, but jurisdiction over property rights is a provincial matter. Digital lock legislation that is consistent with existing copyright law – ie. one that factors in existing exceptions – is more clearly a matter of copyright. The C-32 provisions are arguably far more about property rights since the provisions may be contained in the Copyright Act, but they are focused primarily on the rights associated with personal property and expressly exclude copyright defences.
What amazes me is that this remains such a big issue. I can’t believe anyone can credibly claim that it makes sense to block all circumvention of digital locks even in the cases of non-infringement. I know we have some supporters of such laws who read this site, and I’d like to see an honest explanation for why an anti-circumvention provision cannot include a clear exception for cases of non-infringement, and why standard defenses to copyright infringement can’t apply to breaking digital locks?