Review Of Canada's Copyright Bill Concludes, Digital Locks Survive

from the not-all-bad-but-not-all-good-either dept

The clause-by-clause review of Bill C-11, Canada’s new copyright legislation, has concluded. Michael Geist tirelessly live-Tweeted the committee discussion, and as it progressed one thing became clear: Canada is almost certainly going to be saddled with a DMCA-style anti-circumvention law (more commonly referred to here as the “digital locks” law) that would make it illegal to bypass copy protections, even for the purposes of making a completely legal, non-infringing copy such as a personal backup of a DVD. Both the Liberals and the NDP brought forth amendments that would have fixed this by clarifying that bypassing copy protection is only illegal if it is for the purposes of making an illegal copy, but the ruling Conservative government was unwilling to budge. They also defeated an amendment that would have fixed the digital locks exception for people with disabilities—an exception which exists, but is largely toothless as currently written.

The news isn’t all bad—none of the more extreme changes lobbied for by the entertainment industry were accepted, and most were not even seriously considered:

The government’s decision to leave the digital lock rules untouched is unsurprising but still a disappointment, since both opposition parties were clearly persuaded that such a change was needed. On the other hand, given the heavy lobbying by many groups demanding changes to fair dealing (all parties rejected calls for a new fair dealing test or limitations on education), user generated content (there were multiple calls for its removal), statutory damages (there were calls for unlimited damages), and Internet liability (there were calls for notice-and-takedown and subscriber disclosure requirements), the government’s proposed amendments [were] relatively modest.

The bill is now on its way to the House of Commons for its third reading, with some of its best elements—expanded fair dealing, no notice-and-takedown—intact, along with its worst element: the digital locks provision. Though C-11 is not law yet, it’s passage is all-but-guaranteed at this point, which means we may one day see a situation in this country like that in the US, where people have faced jail time for modding an Xbox (yes, that charge was later dropped, but a citizen never should have been dragged before a judge for modifying hardware they legally own in the first place). It’s still important to make your voice heard: if you want to let the government know that you don’t support the indirect criminalization of legal copying accomplished by the digital locks provision, today is the day to contact your Member of Parliament. Although the Conservative majority is putting its weight behind the bill, we learned with SOPA/PIPA that copyright and internet freedoms are not a partisan issue. It may be too late to stop the digital locks provision, but it would be good to see some serious debate in the House, and send a message that Canadians recognize what has happened: the Conservative government has used its majority to foist a bad law upon us at the behest of industry powers and U.S. diplomats, over the objections and best interests of the citizens it is supposed to serve.

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Comments on “Review Of Canada's Copyright Bill Concludes, Digital Locks Survive”

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TtfnJohn (profile) says:


It could be far worse than this.

While the Tories will be blasted for going as far as they did over digital locks and the possibility that someone may face jail time down the road as a result.

I’d like to remind Leah that the Liberals, in the past, when in a majority have rolled over and played dead to the demands of the “content” industry and U.S. diplomats and asking how high to demands of “jump” in every other issue outside of Canadian content. The NDP have done the same “for the artist” which is why we have a tax on blank media now as if we’re all pirates.

Yes, it’s bad law. It will probably sail through the Senate so we’ll have to see what the courts say down the road when the inevitable happens.

Of course, the reality is that digital locks will continue to be broken with tiring regularity for the simple fact that consumers don’t like them. Exactly the same situation as currently exists in the States.

I’d be curious to find out if the committee votes were whipped which may mean that buried in the background there IS some partisanship if for no other reason that the “content” industry for all its complaining goes nowhere without bags full of money.

John Doe says:

The nice thing about these laws is...

The nice thing about anti-circumvention laws is they are basically toothless. I am no pirate, but I have started using a program to rip a DVD movie to my computer so I can view them on the run. Much like the Wal-Mart service for Ultraviolet except I don’t have to drive to Wal-Mart with the DVD in one hand and cash in the other. So pass all the laws you want while the rest of the world continues to ignore them.

John Doe says:

Re: The nice thing about these laws is...

I failed to mention that I also plan to start renting more Redbox movies to rip to my computer and my tablet when I get it so I can watch them when I travel. I will delete them once I watch them so I am effectively time and place shifting them. So again, what effect will these laws have exactly?

Joe says:

Re: Re: The nice thing about these laws is...

well in all likelihood, you’ll see no effect. But the end result is still you are breaking the law and ‘could’ be charged.

You end up with a society where everyone is breaking the law and ‘could’ be charged. Wouldn’t it be better to have a society where you can say ‘I haven’t done anything wrong, so you can’t charge me with anything’?

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: The nice thing about these laws is...

The real problem isn’t for individuals, it’s for all the businesses that could/should be based on these circumventions. Imagine businesses who would restore your lost photos, games, whatever that were lost to DRM, or any number of other legitimate businesses that will be shut down for no honest reason.

Joe says:

This is one of the weaknesses of the Canadian parliamentary system. When you have a minority government, the opposition just bides their time before taking down the government when they think they can win a general election. When you have a majority government, they have no incentive to listen to alternative viewpoints or compromise on any issues. I’d really prefer exploring a plurality of political parties with coalitions made to form governments. While not perfect, they offer a number of advantages.

tqk says:

Re: Re:

This is one of the weaknesses of the Canadian parliamentary system. When you have a minority government, the opposition just bides their time before taking down the government when they think they can win a general election.

I’ve always considered that a strength, not a weakness. The less gov’t can do, the less they can !@#$ things up more than they are. I’d rather pay for more elections than the results of a majority win.

Anonymous Coward says:

“yes, that charge was later dropped, but a citizen never should have been dragged before a judge for modifying hardware they legally own in the first place”

Marcus, this is why you are such an idiot.

Simply, modifying the hardware wasn’t the issue – modifying and bypassing protections in software was. You are free to do whatever you want on the hardware side to your Xbox, there is no issue – what is an issue is using modchips to get around security or to otherwise modify the copyrighted code on the machine, which is only LICENSED to you, not sold to you.

I know it’s a difficult concept, like walking and chewing gum. With lots of work, perhaps you will master both of them in your lifetime.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If the modchips actually completely bypassed all code on the machine, and didn’t invoke any security routines, there would be no issue. But the modchips generally are to get around security locks, to bypass or modify software features, and so on. They change the copyrighted code to make the hardware work differently.

My point is that modifying the hardware istself isn’t against the law – it’s modifying the function of the software on board, the bypassing of security that is the issue.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re:

Before you spout off about hardware mods, you might want to learn a little about what the are and how they work. Your assertion about copyrighted code is BS. No one touches the code. The mod chip is a hardware modification the PHYSICALLY bypasses the BIOS chip and replaces it with itself. It doesn’t take any code from the BIOS chip. It just allows the system to ignore it, and instead load different code that does NOT belong to Microsoft. In other words, you are loading your BIOS on your own hardware instead of Microsoft’s BIOS on your own hardware.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So this legal fiction that software locks are sacrosanct no matter the purpose of bypassing them is ok because of another legal fiction where a copy of hardware you own contains a copy of the code that’s somehow still owned by someone else. How do you remove the ownership of the copy of the code form the person who owns the media it is written on? Legal magic. Absolutely absurd legal magic.

The laws contradict one another, one says it’s legal to do this that or the other and another says it’s illegal to make that possible. We know what the letter of the law is, Marcus knows what the letter of the law is, and that’s what’s being pointed out is wrong. I know it’s a difficult concept that someone could understand what is legal and what isn’t and argue that something should be made legal but, with lots of work, perhaps you will master it in your lifetime.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“When technology figures out a way to circumvent law, there should never be a new law to answer that. All laws must remain static and never change. Only technology can change, not laws.”

This deserves a huge helping of WTF ?!?!???

Sarcasm aside, of course laws are meant to change. Hell, it would be nice if they did change instead of lagging behind the tech. Your sarcasm implies there are not enough copyright laws to keep up with technology. Have you ever considered that its time to change the laws so that the normal behaviors of customers (enabled by technology) are not criminalized?

Please spare us the rant about how everything will be free and no one will get paid and creation will disappear from the planet. TV didn’t kill movies and video didn’t kill the radio star.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

U mad, bro? The fact that laws take forever to be reviewed and changed to fit the evolution of technology and social behavior is the main reason we see this fucking mess in copyright and many other areas. I take it you agree that all the males that reach 16 yrs old should attend to mandatory archery classes? (some city in the Wales if memory serves has this in law even if it’s not enforced)

Laws MUST change or rather adapt to times. Many of the new laws are not needed and their purpose could be fulfilled with a review of an existing one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I assume by ‘technology figures out a way to circumvent law’ you’re referring to the DRM/digital lock schemes that circumvent law like fair dealing/use like format shifting? I think you’re absolutely right and we should come up with a new law, or perhaps just repeal some old ones, so that this circumvention of the law by technological means does not stand. Unfortunately we have instead decided that the law should prevent circumvention of the technology.

Steve R. (profile) says:

The Concept of Sale Being Eliminated

Once again we have a new law that essential removes the property rights of buyers to the physical items that they supposedly buy. Not only that, but that the selling entity can, post-sale, do whatever it likes with the devices in the possession of the supposed buyer.

Do something the selling entity does not like. Go directly to jail, no due-process or appeal rights. Besides the concept of sale being eliminated, the legal process is being gutted.

Michael says:

We have bigger problems.

Right now we have an illegitimate government that is doing everything in its power to subvert the parliamentary system in our country. Cheating in elections, labeling anyone who speaks out a terrorist, threatening activists, dismantling checks and balances… it goes on and on. We need to get rid of them before it is too late.

BigKeithO (profile) says:

Re: We have bigger problems.


While the PC’s are making some pretty horrible moves that I don’t agree with, and I’m from Alberta, they aren’t quite as bad as you easterners make out.

Who would replace them? The Liberals? The NDP? Come on, get a clue. Illegitimate? Pretty sure they were voted into power in an election, this isn’t Russia and Harper isn’t Putin.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We have bigger problems.

Uggg, not another rant about the “illegitimate” government. I’m so sick and tired or people saying that like a broken record. Has Canadian politics really dropped down to the level of American politics where people only refer to President Obama as Osama or just as “Obama” without the President honorific. Or worse yet those that don’t recognize him as president because they claim he’s a Muslim that wasn’t born in the USA.

There was an election, the people voted, the Conservatives won. People then start saying but he only got 40% of the vote, so 60% didn’t want him so someone else should run the country. Sure, only 40% voted for the Conservatives but only 30% voted for the NDP. That means 70% of Canadians didn’t want them to run the country. Same goes with the Liberals with their 19%, 81% didn’t want them. “First past the post” is not the best system out there, but it’s the system that we are using and have been using for a long time, it’s not like the Conservatives suddenly changed how elections are run to work better in their favor.

Yes, I voted for the Conservatives.
No, I do not support the digital locks.
Yes, I support some of their other decisions.
Yes, I do think Towes is a moron and should not be a MP and if you do not agree with me, you must be a child pornographer.

But you are a lair or at least a misguided idiot, if you are trying to tell me there is a political party that does everything that you want, while doing nothing you don’t want. Also that that a party would not have a few bad apples that do stupid things.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: We have bigger problems.

Just because “no one is perfect” doesn’t mean we should pretend to be happy about it or that it is no big deal when we uncover corruption. If the party in power is corrupt, they should be thrown out at the next election. Anything else is encouraging it and means the corruption will only get worse. You have to at least keep it in check a little bit.

RichardM Stallman (user link) says:

The campaign against Canada’s prohibition of breaking DRM (Digital
Restrictions Management) has been undermined by the metaphor of
“digital locks”. That metaphor is weak because it fails to show
what’s nasty about these malfeatures.

You probably have quite a few locks, perhaps on a dwelling place, a
locker, a car, a bicycle, a suitcase. They don’t oppress you, they
serve you — since you have the keys for them. Comparing DRM with
these locks makes it sound ok.

DRM is like a lock placed on you or your property by someone else.
You can’t remove it because you don’t have the key. In other words,
DRM is like a clamp on your car, or handcuffs on your hands.

That’s why we call DRM features “digital handcuffs”. If you want to
teach your MP why this provision is unjust, use that term. And don’t
hesitate to say that Canada should defend its citizens from the
aggressor to the south.

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