by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
canada, copyright, spam

Why Would The Copyright Lobby Be Concerned About An Anti-Spam Bill?

from the because-it-may-hurt-their-rootkits dept

Up in Canada, there have been ongoing discussions and negotiations over an anti-spam law. While I have various reservations over anti-spam legislation (here in the US it's done little to stop spam, but plenty to outline how to "legitimately" spam people), it's a bit surprising to find out that the copyright lobby is heavily involved in the process as well. Why would the copyright lobby care about an anti-spam bill? Apparently, they're afraid that it'll hinder their use of DRM, since the current bill requires consent before installing software on computers. And, as we learned in Sony's famous rootkit debacle, plenty of DRM works by surreptitiously installing software that watches what you do with content. Of course, the last thing the entertainment industry would want is to be required to be 100% upfront and truthful with you when it's installing spyware/DRM on your computer. That would -- in their minds -- defeat the point.

So, the copyright lobby has been making sure to water down the bill, to try to cut out the language that would cover their use of surreptitious spyware/DRM:
Sources say that the Liberals have introduced a motion that would take these practices outside of the bill. In its place, they would define computer program as, among other things, "a program that has as its primary function...inducing a user to install software by intentionally misrepresenting that installing that software is necessary to safeguard security or privacy or to open or play content of a computer program." This sets such a high bar - primary function, intentional mispresentation - that music and software industry can plausibly argue that surreptitious DRM installations fall outside of C-27.
And, of course, once the copyright lobby can put spyware on your machine, they want to be sure they can spy on you and use that information against you:
PIPEDA currently features a series of exceptions to the standard requirements for obtaining consent for the collection of personal information (found in Section 7). Bill C-27 includes a provision that bars those exceptions in cases involving computer harvesting of email addresses and the "collection of personal information through any means of telecommunication, if the collection is made by accessing a computer system or causing a computer system to be accessed without authorization." In other words, email harvesting and spyware would not be permitted and would not qualify for the PIPEDA exceptions found in Section 7.

The copyright lobby is deeply concerned that this change will block attempts to track possible infringement through electronic means. The Section 7(1)(b) exception in PIPEDA currently states that collecting personal information without consent or knowledge of the individual is permitted if it is reasonable to expect that the collection "would compromise the availability or accuracy of the information" and the collection is "related to investigating a breach of an agreement or a contravention of the laws of Canada."
It's really stunning what kind of sense of entitlement the entertainment industry has -- insisting that it should have the right to install spyware on your computer without you knowing about it, and to then collect all sorts of private info about you and what you do on your computer. Shameful.

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  1. icon
    SteelWolf (profile), 19 Oct 2009 @ 5:27am

    What's the most shameful to me is how incredibly easy it is for their lobby to write and pass legislation. It'd be nice if the "representatives" ran with a price tag to let voters know how much they'd have to raise to get actual representation.

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