Rejecting Canada’s new copyright act

As a student, I was constantly being called upon to support various causes, through means ranging from making donations to attending rallies. Usually, such activities have a very indirect effect; sometimes, they cannot be reasonably expected to have any effect at all. Not so, recent protest activities around Canada’s new copyright act: a draconian piece of legislation that would have criminalized all sorts of things that people have legitimate rights to do, such as copying a CD they own onto an iPod they own.

Defending the fair use of intellectual property has become a rallying point for those who don’t want to see the best fruits of the information revolution destroyed by corporate greed or ham-fisted lawmaking in the vein of the much-derided American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. At their most controversial, such acts criminalize even talking about ways to circumvent copyright-enforcement technology, even when such technology is being mistakenly applied to non-copyrighted sources: such as those covered by the excellent Creative Commons initiative or those where fair use is permissive for consumers. Watching a DVD you own using a non-approved operating system (like Linux) could become a criminal offence.

For now, the protests seem to have been successful. Of course, the temptation for anyone trying to pass a controversial law is to hold off until attention dissipates, then pass it when relatively few people are watching. Hopefully, that will not prove the ultimate consequence of this welcome tactical victory for consumer rights.

Related prior posts:

Feel free to link other related matter in comments.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

9 thoughts on “Rejecting Canada’s new copyright act”

  1. “The Canadian government is about to bring down Canada’s version of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it promises to be the worst copyright law in the developed world. It will contain an “anti-circumvention” clause that prohibits breaking the locks off your music and movies in order to move them to new devices or watch them after the company that made them goes out of business — and it will follow the US’s disastrous lead with the DMCA in that there will be no exceptions to the ban on circumvention, not even for parody, fair dealing, time shifting, or other legal uses.”

    By Deirdre K. Mulligan† & Aaron K. Perzanowski

    If DRM is to emerge as a tool that benefits consumers through the introduction
    of new business models and innovative pricing structures, the
    terms of these transactions must be clearly and meaningfully presented to
    consumers. Unless consumers understand the rights granted and costs imposed
    by these transactions—among them sacrificed privacy and security—
    DRM will remain a tool that exclusively benefits copyright holders,
    while presenting consumers with, at best, inconvenience and, at worst,
    violations of their security, privacy, and expectations.

  3. Libraries urge balance in Copyright Act changes
    The Canadian press
    December 21, 2007 at 10:46 AM EST
    OTTAWA — Canadian libraries fear that proposed changes to the Copyright Act are being driven by Hollywood producers eager to crack down on piracy at the expense of ordinary consumers.
    The libraries are urging the government to seek balance in any changes proposed to the act.

  4. The Galacticast netshow has produced a great little end-of-year short calling on Canadians to fight the Canadian DMCA in the coming year. This is the on-again/off-again US-inspired copyright act that Industry Minister Jim Prentice wrote without any input from Canadian interest groups, making it into a kind of wish-list for US-based entertainment giants.

    The episode parodies many, many science fiction classics (and the host sports a nifty DMZ tee from The Secret Headquarters!) and does a good job of laying out the basic issues in funny, easy-to-understand ways.

    It’s a cinch that Minister Prentice will reintroduce the Canadian DMCA in 2008 — and we’re gonna kill it again!

  5. WalMart now says they’ll keep the DRM servers on forever

    By Cory Doctorow on Copyfight

    After announcing that they’d be shutting off their DRM servers and nuking their customers’ music collections, Wal*Mart has changed their mind. Now they’ve told their customers that they’ll be keeping these servers online indefinitely — which means that they’ll be paying forever for their mistaken kowtowing to the entertainment industry’s DRM mania.

    All those companies (cough Amazon cough Apple cough) that say they’re only doing DRM for now, until they can convince the stupid entertainment execs to ditch it, heed this lesson: you will spend the rest of your corporate life paying for this mistake, maintaining infrastructure whose sole purpose is to lock your customers into a technology restriction that no one really believes in. Welcome to the infinite cost of doing business with Hollywood.

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