Canadian DMCA Bill Introduced, and Minister Prentice Sends Me Email

Bill C-61 was introduced today, and this “made-in-Canada” DMCA appears even worse than the American version! I had hoped that the government would acknowledge the growing public opposition to the proposed legislation and allow for more public participation prior to drafting the bill, but apparently they prefer to represent the interests of transnational “rights holder” corporations rather than standing up for their real constituents.

I’m particularly concerned with the Technological Measures provisions, similar to but with fewer and less encompassing restrictions to their application than the US law. The consequences of this section of the bill mean no more modding your XBox, jailbreaking your iPhone, refilling your printer’s ink cartridge or otherwise asserting control over hardware that you bought and paid for. The TM provisions also provide a convenient way for “rights holders” to remove the legal right to copy or convert media for personal use that unlocked media has.

Minister Prentice was kind enough to spam me with his own spin on the bill:

The Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-61, An Act to Amend the Copyright Act. The proposed legislation is a made-in-Canada approach that balances the needs of Canadian consumers and copyright owners, promoting culture, innovation and competition in the digital age.

What does Bill C-61 mean to Canadians?

Specifically, it includes measures that would:

  • expressly allow you to record TV shows for later viewing; copy legally purchased music onto other devices, such as MP3 players or cell phones; make back-up copies of legally purchased books, newspapers, videocassettes and photographs onto devices you own; and limit the “statutory damages” a court could award for all private use copyright infringements

Of course, this doesn’t apply to copying legally purchased DVDs to other devices such as iPods, as that would contravene the anti-circumvention provisions…

  • implement new rights and protections for copyright holders, tailored to the Internet, to encourage participation in the online economy, as well as stronger legal remedies to address Internet piracy;

I’m sure all of the artists that protested the possible provisions in the bill prior to its introduction will be reassured by this one…

  • clarify the roles and responsibilities of Internet Service Providers related to the copyright content flowing over their network facilities; and

I’m not clear on the details of this, but it had better not mean that ISPs are now supposed to act as copyright police.

  • provide photographers with the same rights as other creators.

What Bill C-61 does not do:

  • it would not empower border agents to seize your iPod or laptop at border crossings, contrary to recent public speculation

But can they still invade your privacy by inspecting your device’s contents for possible infringing media?

What this Bill is not:

  • it is not a mirror image of U.S. copyright laws. Our Bill is made-in-Canada with different exceptions for educators, consumers and others and brings us into line with more than 60 countries including Japan, France, Germany and Australia

I suppose this is true. I just wish it had brought us “into line” with the less restrictive countries that have more respect for their citizens instead.

I’m certainly no expert on this subject, so if you’re interested please check out the estimable Michael Geist’s explanation of some of the bill’s key points.


About this entry