In 2011, the Canadian Conservative government rammed through Bill C-11, Canada's answer to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in which the property rights of Canadians were gutted in order to ensure that corporations could use DRM to control how they used their property -- like its US cousin, the Canadian law banned breaking DRM, even for legitimate purposes, like effecting repairs or using third party parts. Read the rest
When the Canadian Parliament passed Bill C-11 -- Canada's answer to America's notorious Digital Millennium Copyright Act -- it was in the teeth of fierce opposition from scholars, activists and technologists, who said that making it a crime to modify your own property so you could do something legal (that the manufacturer disapproved of) had been proven to be a terrible idea in practice in the USA, and that Canada should learn from its neighbour's mistake. Read the rest
Michael Geist writes, "The global music industry has spent two decades lobbying for restrictive DMCA-style restrictions on digital locks. These so-called "anti-circumvention rules" have been actively opposed by many groups, but the copyright lobby claims that they are needed to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet treaties. Now the head of the RIAA in Canada admits that the treaty drafters were just guessing and that they guessed wrong." Read the rest
In the wake of John Deere's claims that the software in its engines means that its farm equipment is "licensed," not "sold," I talked to the Globe and Mail about what digital locks mean for the idea of property in the 21st century. Read the rest
Michael Geist sez, "Over the past couple of days, there have been multiple reports about the return of file sharing lawsuits to Canada, with fears that thousands of Canadians could be targeted. While it is possible that many will receive demand letters, it is important to note that recent changes to Canadian copyright law limit liability in non-commercial cases to a maximum of $5,000 for all infringement claims. In fact, it is likely that a court would award far less - perhaps as little as $100 - if the case went to court as even the government's FAQ on the recent copyright reform bill provided assurances that Canadians "will not face disproportionate penalties for minor infringements of copyright by distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement.""
Why Liability Is Limited: A Primer on New Copyright Damages as File Sharing Lawsuits Head To Canada Read the rest
Michael Geist points us to "A critique of how the collecting agency behind the 'bone stupid' copyright deals signed by U of Toronto and Western U is poised to have its wishes ensconced in Canada's soon-expected Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11, with provisions that 'override the copyrights of others, monopolize markets and collect a de facto 'Education Tax' [that] is inefficient, immoral, and likely unconstitutional.'" Read the rest
Michael Geist sez, "Open Media, which launched the most successful Canadian online petition in history on usage based billing, is now encouraging people to speak out on copyright reform. The group makes it easy to speak out against SOPA-style reforms, harms to fair dealing, and unduly restrictive digital lock rules. This is the last chance for Canadians to be heard with the final committee changes coming on Monday." Read the rest
Michael Geist sez, "Last week I wrote about the astonishing demands of the Canadian music industry as it seeks a massive overhaul of Bill C-11, the copyright reform bill. The Canadian Independent Music Association is seeking changes to the enabler provision that would create liability risk for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, video sites, and many other websites featuring third party contributions. If that were not enough, it is also calling for a new iPod tax, an extension in the term of copyright, a removal of protections for user generated content, parody, and satire, as well as an increase in statutory damage awards.
CIMA and ADISQ, which represents the Quebec music industry, appeared before the C-11 committee last week and the demands only seemed to increase. For example, ADISQ is asking the government to add a requirement for Internet providers to disclose customer name and address information to copyright owners without court oversight. Meanwhile, CIMA wants takedown with no due process and unlimited statutory damages." [Emphasis mine] Read the rest
Michael Geist sez, "The Canadian music industry is scheduled to appear before a Parliamentary committee today with some of the most radical demands to date that would effectively create liability for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, and video sites such as Google, Facebook and Reddit. As if that were not enough, the industry is also calling for a new iPod tax, an extension in the term of copyright, a removal of protections for user generated content, parody, and satire, as well as an increase in statutory damage awards. Taken together, the Canadian music industry demands make SOPA look like minor tinkering with the law."
Canadian Music Industry Takes Aim At Google, Facebook, Reddit & Tech Startups With Bill C-11 Demands Read the rest
Michael Geist sez,
Tens of thousands of Canadians have spoken out against proposed copyright reform in recent days that could combine the US DMCA with SOPA to create restrictive digital lock rules along with targeting of legitimate websites and website blocking. Canadians recognize that the bill will have an impact on the legitimate activities of millions, creating barriers to creators, students, journalists, researchers, and the visually impaired. While the government is right when it says there has been wide consultation, the question is whether it has taken the public comments into account and conducted a full analysis of the implications of its current proposal. There is reason to believe that it has not.
When asked about enforcement concerns, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said "enforcing these rights in a given instance, however, is a private legal matter on which the government cannot speculate." This post does some speculating for the Minister, demonstrating how the law will chill freedom of expression and scientific research, jeopardize fair use, and impede competition and innovation.
Canadian Government Has Consulted on Copyright but Won't Consider How Its Law Will Be Enforced Read the rest
Michael Geist sez, "Barry Sookman, lawyer and registered lobbyist for the Canadian Recording Industry Association (now Music Canada), the Motion Pictures Association - Canada, and Canadian Publishers Council, has an op-ed in the National Post claiming that concerns that proposed amendments to Bill C-11 could result in SOPA-style rules in Canada are the stuff of wild claims and hysteria.
"The short response is that Sookman's column - along with his clients - downplay the dramatic impact of their proposed amendments. Their proposed amendments to C-11 would radically alter the bill by constraining consumer provisions, heaping greater liability risk on Internet companies, and introducing website blocking and Internet termination to Canada. Several of these provisions are very similar in approach to SOPA in the U.S. and the comparison is both apt and accurate. Moreover, the column leaves the false impression that Bill C-11's digital lock rules are standard when they are widely opposed by numerous stakeholders that Sookman would not dare to call anti-copyright. There is much more to take issue with in the column and I've done so in paragraph-by-paragraph format in the post."
"Bill C-11 Is No SOPA": My Response
(Thanks, Michael!) Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has selected some of the best submissions from the Copyright Office's review of whether it should continue to be legal in the USA to "jailbreak" your devices in order to make them more suited to their needs. In this post, we hear from a deaf man who jailbreaks his phone so that he can use it as an assistive device at work; a military worker in Kuwait who jailbreaks his phone so he can quickly access the flashlight function to scare off dangerous wildlife near the base; and a nurse whose jailbroken device allows her to "track my performance, treatments used on patients, and the effects of those treatments, much faster with customizations that are not available on a device that is not jailbroken."
A note for Canadians: Bill C-11, Canada's proposed copyright law, has no similar exemption-setting process. That means that if MP James Moore succeeds in passing his legislation, it would be illegal to modify your property in the ways described here.
Read the rest
Kevin McLeod is a deaf man who uses his Android phone — a Samsung Epic 4G — to assist him with communication, record-keeping, and time management. Like many deaf people, he uses video relay service (VRS) software on his phone to “work on a level playing field with hearing peers and have productive and meaningful careers.” He had these comments for the Copyright Office:
I need a phone that can run VRS software through the day without having to recharge every other hour.