What question do you want to ask Canada's Industry Minister about the Canadian DMCA?

Jesse Brown from CBC Radio's Search Engine sez,
Here at Search Engine we've been on the phone with Minister Prentice's and Minister Verner's offices, holding them to their promises that they would answer questions about the Copyright bill once it's out. Fingers crossed!

We're hoping Boing Boing readers can assist the CBC in collecting questions for the Minister(s). Specifically, we want to get beyond the angry emotions and pose practical questions.

Here's the form all questions should take:

"What if I _______: Will the new bill make me a criminal?"

Here are my questions, based on listening to the Minister weasel when asked them earlier:

* What if I remove the DRM from a public domain work?
* What if I remove DRM from copyrighted works that I created?
* What if I remove the DRM from a crippled CD in order to load it onto my iPod?
* What if I help a blind person remove the DRM from a crippled ebook?
* What if a blind person gives another blind person a copy of her cracked ebook?
* What if a blind person gives another blind person a tool that can be used to crack ebooks?

And here's two important ones that don't follow Jesse's template (if you ask me, these are the most important questions to get answers to from the Minister):

1. Don't we pay Parliament to make our laws? How come DRM companies and entertainment companies get to invent any copyright law they want (in the form of DRM) and enforce it using our cops? Isn't coming up with rules about what copyright does and doesn't allow your job?

2. Do you really think that Canadians are going to stop putting videos on YouTube, breaking DRM from their DVDs, enjoying region-free players, etc, just because you've passed this dumb law? What will happen to the public's respect for copyright law once every voter realises that you've just turned her into a criminal, just for watching the DVDs she bought on her iPod? How will you protect Canadians from selective enforcement and vindictive prosecution (like the time the RIAA went after a college kid who'd contributed code to a search engine that could find MP3s on the campus net, busting him for the MP3s on his hard drive, and demanding that he switch majors and stop programming computers as a condition of his settlement)?

Link (Thanks, Jesse!)

(Disclosure: I am a paid columnist for Search Engine)


  1. not necessarily. Being next door to each other makes it easy for Americans to point to Canada and say: “Hey, THEY are doing it!” It is in free American’s interests to help Canadians defeat this evil cash/power grab. Eventually the worst of the DRM and other assorted malignities in the USA could be repealed. Remember, with a bit of luck the Bushco cabal will soon be firmly nailed up in its coffin.

  2. “What if I access my cd from another computer on my network?”

    “How much money did copyright owners contribute to your barely elected party?”

  3. In all fairness, there are specific provisions to allow blind people to break DRM as well as to allow others to break DRM for the sole purpose of helping blind people access the content. Where the real problems arise is where companies are allowed to curtail your Fair Dealing and Public Domain rights whenever they want.

  4. What if a record label implements a “technical protection measure” in the form of CDs that infect computers with malicious software (as Sony-BMG already have done)? If I create a virus detection and removal tool that helps users disinfect their computers from the malware-TPM, will I be a criminal?

  5. Now that I think about it, though, the exemption only applies to people with ocular impairments. If I were to break the DRM on an ebook so that an illiterate person would be allowed to hear it read, would I be a criminal?

  6. It is important to keep pointing out that this can be used to threaten,limit and curtail free speech on the web. Someone mouthing off too much for a governments comfort? Crucify them for “copyright violations”. There is always SOMETHING you can find on someone’s hard drive to hang them with. Or you can put it there after you confiscate their computer.

    I think the censorship potential (see Prentice especially) is as appealing to them as the bribes from the RIAA.

  7. “How do you see the court system handle the multitudes of individuals who will essentially become criminals if this piece of legislation comes to pass? Do you possibly think with the advantages for industry to place cheap DRM on all content they produce, that they won’t given this new legislation?”

  8. What if I create a critical documentary based on scenes from a DVD: Will the new bill make me a criminal? For example, Ben Stein’s Expelled, or Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Permission from the owner is not likely to be forthcoming.

  9. Is it legal to circumvent a “technological measure”:

    1) in order to play back a legally obtained recording on a device other than the one intended by the copyright owner (e.g. to play back a DVD video on a computer with a DVD-ROM drive rather than a DVD player);
    2) in order to take an excerpt from a work for criticism, review, educational purposes, derivative works, sampling, or in the public interest;
    3) to format-shift from obsolete formats (such as analog magnetic cassettes);
    4) in order to access information that has been made inaccessible by the “technological measures” controlling it, (e.g., if the measure requires a computer to access a remote server which no longer exists, or is inaccessible, or in case of network problems, or if the copyright holder ceases to exist);
    5) in order to access works which are protected by technological measures but which have lapsed into the public domain, but are no longer accessible by other means;
    6) in order to protect freedom of expression?

    Is this law unbiased?
    Is it made in good faith?
    Is this law overbroad?

    Did any member of the the Conservative Party accept donations, contributions, or gifts from any members of the Recording Industry Association of America or the Motion Picture Association of America?

    Did any member of the Liberal Party accept anything from any members of the RIAA or the MPAA?

    Did any other public servants associated with this bill accept anything from any members of the RIAA or the MPAA?

    Was any portion of Bill C-61 influenced by an employee of the Government of the United States?

    Was any portion influenced by employees of any government outside Canada?

    Were any interested organizations consulted (e.g. ACTRA, the Canadian Media Guild, or any universities or colleges)?

    Has an analysis of the possible economic impacts of this law been made?

    Does this law restrict the freedom of educators, scholars, researchers, the press, librarians, archivists, or law enforcement?

    Are the recommended fines reasonable? On what basis are they reasonable or unreasonable? Do they reflect actual losses by media owners? Are they arbitrary? Are they punitive?

  10. Here is one really interestin comment from the search engine link:

    “What is more illegal?

    Legally purchasing a DVD and converting it (by circumventing the DRM) so I can watch it on my iPod…


    Downloading the movie illegally in the first place?

    Apparently (an ironically) – legally purchasing it would be as I could be fined $20,000. And the worst part – the creator doesn’t get paid.

    Why risk it? Just download it for free and take your chances on the $500 fine. My incentive to purchase movies and music is officially gone.

    Doing the right thing makes me more of a criminal than doing the very thing that this amendment is saying it will prevent.

    And I’m not being sarcastic.

    Posted by: Stang | June 13, 2008 08:16 PM

  11. @ #13 – I made that exact point in a letter/email to Prentice and Verner. I was kind of stunned to see that they had mangled it this badly. Having a fine that’s 40 times higher for breaking a digital lock than for downloading is… counterproductive? If the law passes, every time I watch a legal DVD on my computer (Ubuntu) I’m eligible for a -$20,000 reverse lottery. Downloading the same file.. or hundreds of files, because I don’t think it’s a ‘per file’ basis.. $500. If I’m going to be a criminal either way, I’ll take Downloading for $500, Alex.

    And this is coming from someone who spends A LOT of my money on DVDs and albums. Sad that I now need a fucking lawyer to figure out if I’m in the clear or not. Maybe I should shred all my copyrighted discs and send them to Prentice. Or maybe that’s just an easy way to get arrested.. sending thousands of sharp metal and plastic shards to the government.

  12. the copyright terrorism already bears fruit for the Harper mob. Think of the further damage they can do before they are thrown out. Time to really start following the money. Why is there not private funds established to reward whistle-blowers?

  13. I would point out for those who haven’t noticed that it’s becoming common, especially on Blu- ray, to include and iPod- friendly format version with a pruchased movie- so breaking a DRM wouldn’t be needed.

    The assumption of course is that the only reason for breaking a digital lock would be to distrubute illegally. Kind of how it’s assumed the only reason you’d buy rolling papers is to smoke something, even though they do have other uses (I used them to clean the pads on my saxophone and clarinet- and help find leaks)

  14. My question:

    What if I copy a legally purchased CD to my computer, and then back up my computer hard disk to allow for recovery from drive failures, viruses, etc… will the new bill make me a criminal?

    This isn’t really a question, in the sense that I already know the answer. Yes, it would. This is a very badly written, ill-conceived law. It’s the sort of thing that is produced when a corrupt government grabs its ankles in a back room for a well-paying industry lobbyist.

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