Canada’s proposed new copyright act is unacceptably poor, most importantly because of its treatment of Digital Rights Management (DRM). Under the new law, circumventing any such system – no matter why – is against the law. This means that if the company that sold you a song decides to stop letting you access it, you are out of luck. Under the new law, it would be a crime to copy music from a DRM-protected CD that you bought to an iPod that you own, with an associated fine of $20,000.
The law would also mean that organizations like libraries cannot have any confidence in their future ability to use digital materials today and people with disabilities will not be able to use technology to make protected works more accessible. It would make it a crime for me to use VideoLAN player to watch DVDs I bought in Europe, just because people selling DVDs have decided to use monopolistic regional codes to boost profits. Indeed, it would criminalize the distribution of VideoLAN itself.
It must be remembered that the purpose of copyright law is to serve the public good, not copyright holders. We allow copyrights because they create a legal environment in which it is possible to profit from a good idea. As a result, copyright protections help to ensure that people are furnished with new and high quality music, books, etc. By failing to protect the legitimate needs of consumers, this bill fails to enhance the public interest. As such, it deserves to be opposed and defeated.