ArsTechnica examines "Made-In-Canada DMCA"

Ars Technica reviews the new Canadian Copyright Act (Bill C-61) and comes back with a distressing, albeit not entirely surprising analysis.

The review can be found here

What’s great about the review is that although it most definitely has a point-of-view (e.g. “…those pesky details… make even the “consumer-friendly” parts of the bill a bit less friendly.”), the approach they’ve taken is to be very quiet on the judgement calls. Focusing more on the on-the-ground realities.

The other point that this article brings home is that while this bill is, in part, about curbing intellectual property theft by providing steep provisions for both preventative deterrents and punitive restitution of infringement, the bulk of the creator protections revolves around criminalizing backups of personal DVDs and CDs (movies, software and music) and criminalizing circumvention techniques that include dvd “backup” software, unlocking cellphones, and the like. The article explains that under the new law, it would be:

“…illegal to circumvent DRM [digital rights management] or to provide circumvention services or devices… In addition, rightsholders can go after those who bypass or break DRM schemes, giving them more ability to tie up content and devices simply by adding a bit of encryption.”

What this means is that Sony, for instance, is free to encode their movies so that they’ll only play on their DVD players, and I as a consumer must go and buy a Sony DVD player to make it play, or purchase the movie in another format (at full price) to play on a different device. If you think this won’t happen, it already has. Apple’s fairplay DRM scheme ensures that music purchased through the Apple store will ONLY play back on apple devices at its original quality (you can burn it to a CD and then re-rip it, but it sounds awful).

Anti-circumvention means that I can’t take my DVD collection and rip it to my iPod. It also means I can’t take music CDs with DRM and rip them to my iTunes. Media and content portability is completely criminalized if the creators so wish it.

My other big concern (and it is a big one) is what this will do to the homebrew community in Canada. For an explanation of why this is important, check out my prior blog post on Homebrew.

As to what can be done, I’m not sure. For now, you can look at the Facebook group for Fair Copyright in Canada, or keep checking Michael Geist’s Blog. Of course you can always look at the resources listed on Professor Geist’s “What you can do” posting.

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