A proposed bill to amend Canada’s Copyright Act

June 19, 2008
Filed under: Commentary, News 

SFFaudio Commentary

Fair Copyright For CanadaA week ago the minority federal government of Canada, and Industry Minister Jim Prentice, tabled an amendment to the Copyright Act. Entitled Bill C-61, its purpose is to bring Canadian copyright law into compliance with the current WIPO treaty (this despite their being no international legal obligation to implement WIPO – it hasn’t been ratified by Canada). Prentice states in a Toronto Star letter to the editor that C-61 will allow…

“…the recording of webcasts [I think he means podcasts and/or streaming audio or video] and TV and radio programs” such recordings may be “enjoyed at different times; music to be copied on devices such as MP3 players; and the copying of books, newspapers, videos and photos into different formats.”

But, Prentice doesn’t mention that these are all liberties we Canadians already had without C-61. What he fails to mention is that the bill actually curtails citizen (and consumer) liberties. Bill C-61 criminalizes the removal of DRM and encryption. Bill C-61 criminalizes recording from broadcast streams and archiving for your own personal library. Bill C-61 is our very own version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

What C-61 intends to achive:

-The plan is to make any streamed digitally recorded media like streaming audio (and video) legal only for an unspecified time – until you listen to it (ya that’s right an unspecified time until you listen to it). This means you won’t be able to archive something you recorded in a digital format even though you acquired it legally, and you can’t hang on to it for fear of being accused of not listening or watching it in a timely manner? WTF!?

-There is a $500 statutory damage minimum for possession of a single file freed from crippling DRM. With some audiobooks each CD has 99 tracks. That’s $49,500 for one CD. WTF!?

-Any circumvention of DRM, even on files you’ve owned for decades, files you’ve purchased, been given as a gift, or inherited, will be deemed a violation and subject you to a $500 statutory damage minimum (per file). WTF!?

-It will be illegal to transfer DRM’d files to your own iPod or portable media player (you can’t strip-out the forced ads out of DVD that you own either). WTF!?

-It will be illegal to make your media player compatible with an incompatible (but legally purchased) media files if it has DRM. WTF!?

I call this crap. It shall not stand.

Here’s the stuff to get you informed…

The bill itself [READ IT HERE]

Video of the press scrum after the bill’s introduction (CBC Newsworld) coverage on the introduction of the new bill (watch fast because the videos may be illegal after the bill is passed)…

And commentary from Business News Network…

And most damning of all the Industry Minister’s 10 minute interview on CBC Radio One’s Search Engine podcast |MP3|.

There aren’t a lot of good reasons for joining facebook. This is one! As of today, Thursday, June 19, 2008, a week after the bill was tabled in Parliament, 70,000 Canadians have already joined the Fair Copyright For Canada Facebook group to protest Bill C-61.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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