Canadian Tory MP: Don't worry about violating our stupid new copyright law, because we probably won't catch you if you do

Canadian Conservative MP Lee Richardson, a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, responded to a letter from a constituent who worried that the new copyright bill C-11 creates penalties for breaking "digital locks" (the software that stops you from copying files, watching DVD movies on Linux, or fixing your own car). The MP's letter said:

If a digital lock is broken for personal use, it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.

In other words, you should go ahead and break the law because you won't get caught. As Michael Geist says, "Copyright reform is supposedly about updating Canada's copyright rules and fostering greater respect for copyright law" -- not being able to break the law with impunity.

Conservative MP on C-11's Digital Lock Rules: No Risk of Liability for Breaking Locks

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  1. When you criminalize the common citizen, you end up creating a system where privilege is what protects you, not the law, not rights.  Take marijuana as a perfect example.  White kid gets busted with a joint?  Lecture, ticket– slap on the wrist.  Black kid gets caught with a joint?  Well, hey, we need somebody to fill up these prisons we just paid for!

    This doesn’t even bring up the fact that money & justice are entangled in terrifying ways.  Rich guy breaks the law, well– he’ll probably get off, he has tons of lawyers.  Rich guy wants to copyright troll you?  You might as well pay him, he has tons of lawyers.

    It is almost like the rich white men WANT to set up a scenario that is terribly unbalanced, & then operate with impunity while everybody else is totally screwed into a sort of authoriarianist serfdom.  Huh.  Maybe I’m just a cynic.

    1. When you criminalize the common citizen, you end up creating a system where privilege is what protects you, not the law, not rights.

      I believe this has been the norm everywhere forever, except maybe when the media happens to be paying attention.

      1. Yeah, but human beings keep trying to do something better.  Hey, the Bill of Rights is a pretty good step in the right direction.  & heck, if it takes attention, then bring on the panopticon!  Or whatever you call an inverted panopticon.

  2. Well… yeah. In order to even detect infringement over an encrypted pipe you’d have to break a digital lock! Kinda screwed yourself on this one, eh?

    1. The bill includes an exception for “investigation related to the enforcement of any Act of Parliament or any Act of the legislature of a province, or for the purposes of activities related to the protection of national security.”

  3. I talked to my MP (who is also the Conservative party whip, by the way) about this last year, and he told me the same thing. I said to him at the time that that was still no way to make a law; what was the point of having a law on the books that you didn’t have to follow? (He did seem to see the sense of keeping it legal to break digital locks for non-infringing purposes. Not that I expect it to make any difference that he saw the sense of it.)

    Plus, who would ever agree to the proposition, “We’re going to pass a law that says it’s okay to shoot you in the head, but don’t worry; it’s not realistic that anybody would actually do it”?

  4. Conservatives don’t want to build a Canada of the future, they want to tear it down, build some prisons, and call it Diet USA.

  5. So, he’s straight-up admitting that this is a law that – rather than actually applying to everyone – will only be used whenever, wherever, and against whomever the government feels like. Good to know.

  6. The problem is that Joe Citizen probably won’t be breaking those digital locks all by himself. He’ll be using a tool written by someone like DVDJon, so the industry’s efforts will go to prosecuting the tool authors, and closing down the websites where they (or others) publish their software or techniques.

    And then if Joe Citizen happens to download the tool, the industry may just happen to subpoena his IP along with the IPs of everyone else who downloaded that tool, at which point Mr Richardson’s “Oh, go ahead, no one will bother you.” starts to look like rather bad advice.

    1.  What? You mean DVDJon might be offering or providing services “primarily for the purposes of circumventing a technological protection measure?”

      Well I guess those Joe Citizens will just need to write their own circumvention methods from scratch. That seems reasonable.

  7. …it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved

    Wait, isn’t that the exact reason WHY big companies sue individuals, because the individuals can’t afford to defend themselves and end up settling?

  8. “If a digital lock is broken for personal use, it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.”
     
    The record shows that when the U.S. passed the same law, “creators” made millions by bulk-mailing consumers with threats to sue them individually if they didn’t individually pay a ransom (a.k.a. out-of-court settlement).

  9. How come there are no laws against breaking physical locks. You know, when you accidentally locked yourself out of your house, call a lock smith, and he says “sorry, it’s illegal to circumvent the lock”. You’re just going to have to buy another house.

  10. making laws that are nearly impossible to enforce is silly- therefore they must feel there’s a way to enforce it. Therefore, either the Tory’s are flat tou stupid or they’re lying. A bit of both is possible as well since they are trying to push through a new tough on crime bill as we hit a 44 year low on crime rates.

  11. This is just further proof that the Conservatives are actually rather anti-market. This law isn’t really directed at individuals (who will just ignore it anyway), but against business in Canada who want to bring innovative solutions to market. Everyone will be able to download a DVD copier for free, but no one will be allowed to sell you one.

  12. Of course, you should then fire back with “then would you agree to add an exception to the law to allow breaking locks for personal use?”.

    Much embarassing blustering then ensues, or damning silence.

  13. ” it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.”

    Yes, let us ignore the precedent set down in the US of the RIAA and MPAA suing everyone and their dog over 24 songs, or a single lame movie for multiple millions of dollars, or sending out thousands upon thousands of extortion letters to citizens, saying that if you don’t settle with us for 5-10k$ dollars, we WILL sue you and win a judgement in the millions so you had better pay up.

    It is inconceivable that content creators would file a lawsuit against a consumer due to the legal fees and time involved, as that exact same thing has clearly not just happened (and continues to happen).

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