A proposed bill to amend Canada’s Copyright Act

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

7 thoughts to “A proposed bill to amend Canada’s Copyright Act”

  1. Do I understand this correctly that it will be illegal to record the stream of a radio station, which is free anyway, for your own personal use? Especially in that light I find the headline “Downloading crackdown” absolutely ridiculous! There are so many radio programmes that are not available for sale anyway, so who’s getting hurt if someone records a radio drama to be able to listen to it at their own leisure? It seems like this world has too few real problems if we have to turn normal people into criminals.

  2. Yes you read that right. Under C-61 you could record streaming radio show legally (assuming you aren’t circumventing an anti-recording flag on the material) but only for time shifting purposes. You may not archive your recording digitally (for later listening). There are no details in the bill to determine how long you have before you have to listen to it (or watch it) before they accuse you of archiving. Prentice calls it “striking a balance.”

  3. Just wrote an email:

    Dear Mr. Moore and Mr. Prentice,

    I am extremely concerned with an aspect of Bill C-61.

    I recently purchased a DVD boxed set of 7 DVDs (The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones) at Best Buy in Coquitlam. It is marked as Region 1 (our region) but would not play on my Windows Vista operating system. I cannot return it to Best Buy, as it plays on their system there and they don’t accept “opened media” for return. Replacing the disc with another copy isn’t an option either as that won’t work on my machine either. When I put the disc into my DVD drive Vista tells me the disc is “incompatible” with my region. I tried this on a friend’s XP computer and it played perfectly. He could play it, but I can’t.

    In order to make this disc run on my machine I needed to run it through DVDShrink (a freeware program that can strip off the region marking or change it to another region) – it breaks the encryption to do this. I’m currently stripping off the region marking on disc 2 of this 7 disc set. I plan on doing the same for the rest of the set, and in future on any other discs that show up as “incompatible” on my Vista machine.

    I am concerned that under Bill C-61 I’d be liable for a $500 minimum for each disc (or more depending on whether each of the many files on each DVD are considered individually). If this were to end up in court, which could happen under bill C-61, I’d be up against Viacom. They have very deep pockets (thanks in part to me regularly purchasing their products). I am concerned that in making my discs usable (for me and my friends), I would make myself liable to a lawsuit that would thoroughly ruin me financially. I don’t deserve that. What assurances can I get from you that I will not be liable under C-61? My reading of the bill does not fill me with confidence.

    Jesse Willis

  4. Got a response from MP James Moore’s assistant #1,

    Message reads:

    Subject: re C 61
    Friday, July 4, 2008 11:57 AM
    From: “Moore, James – Assistant 1”
    To: [email protected]

    Thank you for your email on Bill C-61, the Copyright Act.

    We tabled this legislation on Thursday, June 12th, and the debate of the legislation has just begun.

    Bill C-61 will now be examined in the House of Commons and at the Standing Committee for Industry, where expert witnesses of varied opinions will offer their input. As your MP, I really appreciate your feedback – your comments will be very helpful in the coming debates.

    James Moore

    I will now reply, asking whether Moore will oppose the bill.

    I’ve not yet heard back from Jim Prentice (or any of his assitants).

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