Thursday, March 15, 2012

Canadian shame

Canada is set to fail where the US so recently succeeded in spectacular fashion:  Smacking down an attempt by the government to put ridiculous copyright laws in place.  SOPA died due to a massive internet strike and subsequent deluge of calls to legislators in the US but bill C 11 here in Canada looks like it is going to go through, stupidity notwithstanding.  To be fair to my country C 11 isn't as bad as SOPA.  It actually has a bunch of good things in it that modernize and appropriately regulate copyright but it has a gigantic failing point in that it enshrines the digital lock as something that is illegal to circumvent.

If C 11 goes through as written when you buy a DVD with DRM installed on it and then decide to copy it to your hard drive you will be breaking the law.  Despite the fact that you own the DVD and are looking at it by yourself on the exact same screen you have broken the law by circumventing the manufacturer's attempt to lock the material.  Even if you purchase a song on a device that later becomes obsolete or unusable you will be unable to legally transfer it to a working device.  This nonsense is clearly pandering to the music and movie industries who figure that the government should be doing their enforcement for them and should be doing so even against all sense and reason.

The bill will be finalized soon and as expected the copyright lawyers working for industry are circling the government with fistfuls of cash trying to sell punitive and irresponsible additions to the bill.  They would love to have SOPA type laws in it that force people accused of copyright infringement to have their internet access removed; proof is not required and the idea of innocence until guilt is proven is only a suggestion.  If the Conservative government was actually interested in fact based decision making or even just doing things for the common good they could perhaps be relied upon to strike out the offending clauses and make the bill a really good, progressive piece of legislation but we all know that isn't likely to occur.

One hopeful note is that the digital locks portion of the bill may actually end up being unconstitutional.  I am by no means an expert but a lot of people are saying that it is so out of line with the rest of the bill and so unfair that it will likely be struck down by the courts as soon as it comes before them.  The government has no business making laws that punish people for doing things that corporations don't want.  If a corporation wants this to be enforced they can simply get everyone making a purchase to sign a contract and deal with it through civil court like everybody else.  The government has no damn business being the enforcer for unsigned contracts between buyer and supplier.

1 comment:

  1. SOPA style internet shut-down provisions would definitely be ruled unconstitutional in Canada which is probably why they aren't in there. Digital locks being unconstitutional is interesting, it would be a much less direct argument.