How Canada's DMCA will criminalize everyday Canadians

Michael Geist has begun a new series on the Canadian DMCA, Industry Minister Jim Prentice's no-consultation copyright law. In the five part series, Geist will show how the Canadian DMCA will criminalize out of the daily activities of a hypothetical Canadian family.

Jim and Josee live in a Calgary suburb together with their three children Stephen (age 16), Rona (age 10), and Diane (age 4). Jim is the chief librarian at the National Energy Library, while Josee teaches media and communications at a local high school.

This post focuses on Jim. Soon after he arrives into the office on Monday morning, he is contacted by a researcher located in the field who asks him to track down an article and to email an electronic copy as soon as possible. Jim finds the article, scans and sends it via email. After work, he drops into the local HMV and purchases a DVD copy of the movie Juno. At home, he transfers a copy of the movie to his video iPod for viewing on an upcoming business trip.

I've been hearing from Boing Boing readers who've written to the government to protest the bill, and the government line is "We're not taking away rights, we're giving them to the public! We're making it legal to rip CDs and make other personal copies!" (Indeed, Prentice sent a letter to the Toronto Star that says just this). This isn't mere disingenuousness: it's a flat-out lie. Yes, the bill will legalize ripping your CDs, so long as there's no DRM on them, and so long as the EULA doesn't forbid it. The Canadian DMCA says to rightsholders, "There are no exceptions to copyright law, except the ones you permit. If you want to prohibit a use that Parliament has protected, go right ahead! Just add some DRM or stick it in the EULA, and whatever you say will become the law of the land."

Makes you wonder why we're bothering to pay Parliament's salaries, if the laws are going to be made by record companies from now on.