A Postgame On Canada's Copyright Reform

from the mixed-bag dept

On Monday, after multiple attempts over several years, Canada's House of Commons passed Bill C-11 (previously known by other names), a sweeping copyright reform bill. Senate approval is all but assured, and the bill is essentially certain to become law in the near future. Luckily, unlike SOPA/PIPA in the States, C-11 is not a ridiculous, draconian internet lockdown bill. In fact, there's a lot to celebrate in the bill, though that celebration is marred by one significant problem: the digital locks portion, which is similar to the DMCA's anti-circumvention rules.

But first, the good stuff. Michael Geist has an excellent summary of C-11 with a comparison to previous phases of copyright law in Canada. The victories for smarter copyright law in C-11 sound almost like fantasy when compared to the American copyright debate. They include:

  • New fair dealing provisions (our version of fair use) to cover educational uses, plus parody and satire
  • New backup, format-shifting and time-shifting allowances that remove previous restrictions on networked DVRs and internet TV services (similar to those that have suffered in American courts)
  • Explicit copyright exceptions for "user-generated content", aimed at protecting non-commercial fan-art and remixes
  • A bunch of explicit exceptions for schools, such as the right to stage public performances
  • A notice-and-notice system, not a notice-and-takedown system
  • A $5,000 cap on statutory damages for all non-commercial infringement

Many of these are, as Geist calls them, "user-focused reforms"—something conspicuously absent from most proposed copyright legislation these days. But the digital locks issue remains a black mark on C-11, as the concerns of groups representing consumers, the blind and visually impaired (who will have a tougher time accessing digital content now), and Canadians in general were all brushed aside in favor of a DMCA-style approach that makes it illegal to circumvent copy protection systems even if it's for the purposes of making a legal copy. This, unfortunately, weakens the impact of all the positive reforms in the bill, because it creates a glaring loophole whereby rightsholders can attempt to block copying even if it's for one of the newly defined legal reasons. It's a real shame, and it also represents a foot-in-the-door for those who want more DMCA-style laws in Canada.

Still, it hardly erases the fact that there's a lot to like in C-11. User rights got more attention and more serious consideration in this bill than they ever did in SOPA/PIPA. Given that American diplomats were (and still are) actively pushing for Canadian versions of the DMCA and SOPA (or even more draconian laws that they can then import back to the U.S.), we came out of this one pretty well.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 8:52pm

    I agree with your analysis completely!

    I have done some serious research in the last few days, including trying to wade through the hideous official government copy of the bill (It is formatted as a list of changes and additions to the existing legislation, because, you know, we all have the old one memorized.)

    As an Internet citizen and free-thinker, I assumed I should hate the legislation, thus my research to figure out why.

    Everything else is very positive, but the way the bill treats DRM is ridiculous. Although I can understand that they were trying to pander to innovators by allowing them absolute control over how their content is used, a bill with such extensive and well thought-out fair use exceptions needs to integrate them with the DRM.

    Breaking DRM to make media accessible to the visually-impaired is an obvious case, but this legislation says it is illegal.

    I think we fared better than most countries, and I was actually surprised that C11 included intelligent acknowledgements of fair use. Fix the DRM and we will be world leaders.

     

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  2.  
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    Jacob Blaustein, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 9:01pm

    Now if we can only kill the people in America who think copyright doesn't need all of this...

     

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  3.  
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    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 9:29pm

    no worries, my Hollywood bosses will fix this bill at the last minute. the bill will be stripped of fair dealings, copyright exceptions, etc... those canadian politicians will fold under u.s. pressure.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 9:32pm

    Re:

    oh, and not only will everything that the techdirt pirates like about this bill be removed, but everything they don't like will be added at the last minute. it will end up being like SOPA, see, this is just a trick to gain support for the bill and then change it at the last minute. a bait and switch con game.

     

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  5.  
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    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 9:42pm

    (If my predictions fail)

    Dang it, my shilling efforts aren't working. maybe I need to try harder. i hope my Hollywood masters don't fire me.

     

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  6.  
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    arcan, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 9:54pm

    Re:

    hollywood is gonna be on a warpath over this one.... not that they weren't before... but they are gonna go supercritical over this one.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    arcan, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Re:

    i know this is a sarcastic post even if it seems kinda tired, but i assume it would have to go back through the other side of the canadian legislature if it is changed in the side it is going through.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    arcan, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 10:26pm

    Re:

    me thinks that would be a bad idea. by their math that would be more people than exists on the planet.

     

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  9.  
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    ScytheNoire, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 10:43pm

    MAFIAA & US Government will not let this stand. They will attack Canada again & again until they get the censorship they want.

     

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  10.  
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    Watchit (profile), Jun 21st, 2012 @ 10:47pm

    This.

    "A $5,000 cap on statutory damages for all non-commercial infringement"

    This. We need this.

     

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  11.  
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    Atkray (profile), Jun 21st, 2012 @ 10:54pm

    loopholes

    So is the loophole for the drm bit to simply download a non drm copy from another country?

     

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  12.  
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    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 21st, 2012 @ 11:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    no worries, Hollywood has all the politicians in their back pockets

     

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  13.  
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    Karl (profile), Jun 21st, 2012 @ 11:22pm

    International obligations

    It would be awesome if we saw all of these added to U.S. copyright law.

    Somehow, though, I doubt that Congress will feel the need to include them in order to "harmonize" our laws with "international obligations."

     

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  14.  
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    Spike (profile), Jun 21st, 2012 @ 11:43pm

    Wake up!

    You guys do realize Canada just joined the dreaded TPP agreement right? It was Harper's wet dream to join the TPP as soon as possible... however....

    Bill C11 will become obsolete overnight. You're missing the hidden agenda of the CPC and Hollywood, and its right up your noses! It wasn't even a day after C11 passed the HoC that Obama announced Canada could join the TPP negotiations. Its a well known fact that C11 was a prerequisite to join TPP! There is many leaks and such that acknowledge this, and a wonderful applauding from the US Chamber Of Commerce welcoming Canada to TPP. (Gee I wonder why, apparently Canada still has unresolved "issues" with IP law according to them even after C11 was passed!)

    Wake up people!

    http://www.uschamber.com/press/releases/2012/june/us-chamber-applauds-canada%E2%80%99s-en try-trans-pacific-partnership-negotiations

     

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  15.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 12:10am

    Re:

    They won't. You're the best they have to offer. :p

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 12:58am

    Re: Wake up!

    You guys do realize Canada just joined the dreaded TPP agreement right? It was Harper's wet dream to join the TPP as soon as possible... however....

    Bill C11 will become obsolete overnight. You're missing the hidden agenda


    Yeah. We only wrote about it three days ago hours after it happened.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120618/15271219371/us-invites-mexico-canada-to-join- tpp-negotiations-with-less-power.shtml

    Before accusing us of missing something, maybe look to see if we'd already covered it.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 1:41am

    if it's illegal to get rid of the protection, how can you legally copy it? even backing up your own legally purchased discs isn't possible, is it?

     

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  18.  
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    Hmmm, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 1:58am

    Maybe

    Maybe I'll give them credit for not letting media corporations and lobbyist organizations dictate how we use the internet. Three cheers for a government actually doing something for their citizens. A rarity today.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 3:14am

    Re:

    Well, if they are gonna ratify ACTA at some point, the DRM-crap is a necessity. All of these exceptions are all acceptable from ACTA's standpoint as long as you make breaking DRMs illegal.

     

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  20.  
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    Spike (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 5:01am

    Re: Re: Wake up!

    @Mike, as a regular TD reader, I'm well aware that YOU guys previously covered it. Other people in this thread obviously are still completely unaware.

     

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  21.  
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    Spike (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 5:05am

    Furthermore, just because the CPC threw in a bunch of good stuff doesn't make it a good law. We STILL came out screwed, no amount of sugar coating will change anything.

    Infact, its the equivalent of placing a pile of dog shit in icing sugar and calling it edible!

    Digital locks simply do not work in this day and age, all they do is add huge administrative overhead in basically every other industry that doesn't even use them!

     

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  22.  
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    Dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 6:01am

    Re: Re:

    Yup.

    All they have to do is put DRM on everything to make the exemptions moot.
    The fair use concessions are meaningless with the DRM clause, and they know it. That's why 'allowing' the exemptions to go through was no skin off their backs. A good laugh at the public's expense.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 6:10am

    Re: loopholes

    " So is the loophole for the drm bit to simply download a non drm copy from another country? "

    Seems to me I read about this suggestion already. It would be considered a method of getting around the DRM and thus not legal. NO method of circumvention would be legal.
    The bill is a masterwork of deception. It's being praised by copyright minimalist because of what could have been beneficial language pertaining to fair uses, but each and every one of those uses is negated by the DRM Clause. CSS on DVD's is considered a 'Digital Lock'. Digital protections encoded into digital broadcasts are considered 'locks' . Even the most basic protection now becomes illegal to circumvent.

    How does one use video clips when all sources are 'locked' by even the most minimal of protection ? As long as the DRM clause is in place this bill changes nothing, but carries the 'appearance' of being fair.

    Appearance is everything apparently.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    You can't.

    That's why they were happy to add those concessions. The DRM clause makes them meaningless.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 6:48am

    Nice write up Pollyanna.

     

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  26.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re:

    It does not make them meaningless but yes, it weakens them significantly, which is a shame.

    Still, I'm a bit annoyed by some of the pessimism over this bill. Politicians listened to users, and put sensible stuff in the bill. Will politicians and industry groups also find a way to ruin it? Quite possibly.

    But if we don't acknowledge that they have gotten certain things right, at least in principle, then what reason do they have to listen to us in the future? What sort of smarter-copyright proponents would we be if we absolutely refused to acknowledge anything moving in the right direction, and focused only on the problems, dismissing all improvements as we go?

    Unless of course you believe that it's all rigged and pointless, and citizen input is meaningless, and none of us should bother trying to effect anything...

     

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  27.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Re: International obligations

    Yeah, it's no fair, they get parody AND satire!

    [USA pouts in the corner.]

     

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  28.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 7:27am

    Re:

    Says the Marty Stu of shills.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 7:48am

    " Still, I'm a bit annoyed by some of the pessimism over this bill. Politicians listened to users, and put sensible stuff in the bill. Will politicians and industry groups also find a way to ruin it? Quite possibly. "

    Sorry about that, but I really don't see it differently. Yes, they put sensible stuff in the bill which gives the APPEARANCE of listening to constituents and users. They are aware of the close scrutiny this issue is getting. However, as I pointed out, creating that appearance costs them nothing since the DRM rule makes the concessions useless. They create apparent cooperation without giving up anything .. classic politics. Yes, it's a very cynical view, but since they can't count on secrecy, chicanery is the next logical step. If they were really sincere then the DRM provision wouldn't be there. You know, I know AND they know .. DRM doesn't stop copying and never will.

    " Unless of course you believe that it's all rigged and pointless, and citizen input is meaningless, and none of us should bother trying to effect anything... "

    Seriously ?
    I am one of the least confrontational guys on the planet. I am not a troll and don't deserve the strawman treatment Leigh. I've been posting on this issue since Boycott-RIAA existed as a site, was a member of P2Pnet while Thumbtack still ran it and remained through Jon Newtons run. If I seem cynical, It's because of what we've all SEEN THEM DO. Repeatedly, consistently.

    " But if we don't acknowledge that they have gotten certain things right, at least in principle, then what reason do they have to listen to us in the future? "

    Yes, right .. in principle. Right in appearance. But that little DRM clause is a big. glaring, deliberate hole.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 8:07am

    Some small examples ...

    Some, not all, you tube videos are st up so they can't be directly downloaded for offline viewing. To do so circumvents that protection. That clip can't be used, even for fair use purposes such as rebuttal or commentary. Even that marginal protection is enough to deny legal uses.
    Right clicking on some web sites is disallowed on some image sites, since right clicking is the usual method used in browsers to download an image to the computer. Yes, some browsers ( like Firefox) eliminate this problem. but that is a form of a digital lock, bypassing it would be illegal, no matter what the purpose.
    Digital devices can receive a 'do not copy' command which would prevent a DVR or other digital receiver from copying it. This is also easily circumvented, but, again, this is a digital lock. Circumventing it, even for fair use ( time shifting ) would be codified as illegal.

    The DRM clause does much more than weaken the supposed concessions.

     

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  31.  
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    techflaws (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But if we don't acknowledge that they have gotten certain things right, at least in principle then what reason do they have to listen to us in the future?

    Because in principle is just not good enough. I mean, it's totally illogical to give someone the rights to do something and then forbid it in the next paragraph (which of course did not stop German politicians to do just that as well).

    By applying this crazy thinking you'll only make people respect these laws less. Cause who in their right mind would be stopped from format shifting the media they paid for?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Minimum Wage Shill, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re:

    thank you. maybe you can suggest to them i get a raise.

     

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  33.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    I dunno. If you look at the ongoing battle that has taken place over this, it certainly seems like the public gained considerable ground over the course of the copyright debate.

    The digital locks aspect is bad, but I don't agree that it completely cripples everything else. The Supreme Court has been quite friendly to users and fair dealing lately, and all the good stuff in C-11 opens the door for even more good rulings from them, like the one in December that referred to fair dealing as a "user's right". I can even see the digital locks laws being challenged before the court on the basis that they conflict with fair dealing.

    It's not ideal, but I see no reason not to celebrate the progress that was made. We're going to have things like education exceptions, networked DVRs and user-generated content protection codified in legislation. That's pretty awesome, and an encouraging contrast from copyright law in the U.S.

    Seriously ?
    I am one of the least confrontational guys on the planet. I am not a troll and don't deserve the strawman treatment Leigh. I've been posting on this issue since Boycott-RIAA existed as a site, was a member of P2Pnet while Thumbtack still ran it and remained through Jon Newtons run


    I apologize. My intent is not to build a strawman or to attack. But I really do see that as the ultimate conclusion of taking such a pessimistic view on stuff like this. I don't think you're a troll :) I just disagree...

     

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  34.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Wake up!

    Then please, just state that's it for those readers who didn't know. By saying "you guys", and from the tone of how you wrote, you're basically including everyone, Techdirt article authors and all the readers.

     

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  35.  
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    Chris Brand (profile), Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    "Well, if they are gonna ratify ACTA at some point, the DRM-crap is a necessity. All of these exceptions are all acceptable from ACTA's standpoint as long as you make breaking DRMs illegal."

    Actually, the consensus seems to be that you can be ACTA-compliant with a law that says something like "you can't break DRM in order to infringe". That's the approach taken in New Zealand, Switzerland, and India, for example.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 9:48am

    " I can even see the digital locks laws being challenged before the court on the basis that they conflict with fair dealing."

    I certainly hope so. I only wish that those who put those laws in place had enough foresight to know that the challenge is inevitable. Without the DRM law the challenge would still happen, but with the DRM law it will only be harder ( and more expensive ) to make that challenge.

    " It's not ideal, but I see no reason not to celebrate the progress that was made. "

    That is true. Celebrate the progress. That's a good thing. But also don't fail to call them on their bullshit. Here's a rose, now turn around so I can kick you in the pants ;)

    It needs to be pointed out alongside the 'good'.

    " I apologize. My intent is not to build a strawman or to attack. But I really do see that as the ultimate conclusion of taking such a pessimistic view on stuff like this. I don't think you're a troll :) I just disagree... "

    Respectfully accepted, though we probably don't disagree as much as it may appear. It IS the 'ultimate conclusion' but that is the extreme. there IS a middle ground, I sit in it. It can be dirty, but it's the truth.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 11:37am

    If I can not make a legal copy becuase I would have to break the digital lock then can I get a 'backup' copy from the internet (torrent site) where I had no role in breaking any digital lock?

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    dreddsnik, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Well, if they are gonna ratify ACTA at some point, the DRM-crap is a necessity. All of these exceptions are all acceptable from ACTA's standpoint as long as you make breaking DRMs illegal."

    Precisely.
    The 'Fair use' exemptions are there, but ONLY if a digital lock has not been broken to get the content. Basically, you can use any material for a stated fair use exemption ONLY if you did not have to break a digital lock to use it.
    All they have to do is put the most basic 'digital lock' in place on everything and nothing can be used, even for the claimed exemptions. There is NO language in the DRM provision that allows for the breaking of a digital lock for fair use purposes.

    Clear language for 'Fair use exemptions' .. but NO exemptions for the breaking of DRM.

    That's a great big problem. Who has the money to challenge these laws once in place ? Not me.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 11:49pm

    The part that protects fan works is awesome, some of my favorite stories have been fanfiction and I find it adds to my enjoyment of the original work

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2012 @ 11:50pm

    The part that protects fan works is awesome, some of my favorite stories have been fanfiction and I find it add to my enjoyment of the original work

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Laroquod (profile), Jun 27th, 2012 @ 5:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "But if we don't acknowledge that they have gotten certain things right, at least in principle, then what reason do they have to listen to us in the future?"

    Same reason they pretended to listen to us in the first place. Because we vote them in and pay their salaries. They aren't children and they don't need (nor do they respond to) pats on the back to do well. They will only respond to continued pressure until they realise that their attempts to fool us and have it both ways will never fly.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 27th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: loopholes

    I pretty sure the law does not ban the anogle loop. What you want do with the movie would have to be fair dealings and you would have to delete after your it's not longer need, and if possible only download the part you need (e.g. if you only need one scene and it's YouTube you should download the scene from YouTube ratter then downloading the whole off of bittorret).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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