Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bill C-32

The Conservatives are taking another kick at the Copyright can. This time, they've come up with Bill C-32. Here is my letter to the Minister of Industry, Tony Clement. Please get informed and speak out!

Dear Mr. Clement,

I am writing to express my concerns with the recently introduced copyright bill, Bill C-32. Professionally, I am a software developer and a published author, so I am dependent upon copyright to make my living. I am also an enthusiastic consumer of copyrighted works, particularly music and software, so I view the issue from both sides.

The bill represents a significant step forward from your government's previous attempt at copyright reform. In all areas but one, it appears to take a balanced approach. Unfortunately, the one exception, the digital lock provisions, destroy that balance by giving producers of content a final technological veto over any and all rights that would otherwise fall to consumers. Thus, in its current form, Bill C-32 is critically flawed.

The inclusion of such strict protections for digital locks is surprising, to say the least. They appear to have survived, virtually unchanged, from the failed Bill C-61, in spite of the outpouring of opposition during last summer's Copyright Consultation. Indeed, the most commonly heard opinion throughout the Consultation was opposition to C-61-style anti-circumvention provisions (expressed in 6641 of 8306 submissions). One cannot help but wonder what purpose the Consultation was meant to serve when its strongest message has been ignored, no doubt in deference to the wills of a powerful American corporate lobby. As one Canadian who made the effort to have my voice heard, I am deeply upset by this result.

The DMCA-style hard line that has again been offered in Bill C-32 is clearly not supported by Canadians, and it is not necessary for Canada to meet our obligations under the WIPO Internet treaties, which require only “adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies” for digital locks. In other countries, including India and New Zealand, WIPO implementation has been achieved with more balanced approaches to digital locks.

A copyright balance requires that consumers' rights be protected in all cases, not left to the whims of the dominant media corporations. Circumvention of technological measures can be necessary to exercise those rights, so it is simply unacceptable to criminalize such circumvention for non-infringing purposes. I strongly urge you to amend Bill C-32 to make the anti-circumvention provisions applicable only to circumvention for the purpose of copyright infringement.

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