Monday, June 23, 2008

Why Canadians should care about Bill C-61

I'm going to depart from my pictures of family, rambling about books and posts about coffee to talk about what I feel should be an important topic for all Canadians.

On Wednesday June 12th, 2008 Minister for Industry Jim Prentice introduced Bill C-61, Amendments to the Copyright Act. The bill is an attempt to protect the rights of those who hold copyright while balancing it with the needs of users to access copyright works.

After reading the bill and a investigating the on-line commentary it is in my opinion that it does a poor job of protecting the consumers rights and in many cases turns ordinary Canadians into criminals.

Let me give you a couple of examples from my own life:

Example 1: I have a three year old and I have gotten into the habit of making copies of the DVD's we purchase for her to watch. Anyone who has a three year old has no doubt had to repurchase a favourite DVD because of scratches or grilled cheese incidents.

Under Bill C-61 this would be breaking the law and I would be subject to a $500 or $20,000 penalty depending on how you read the bill. See the format shifting limitations of the bill.

Example 2:
I have a PVR which I use to record TV programs as we generally are not able to sit down when the programs are first aired. One of my favourite shows is Battlestar Gallactica and I have been recording it for the 4 seasons it has been on.

One of the things I plan to do once the series completes later this year is to watch all the shows from season 1 to 4 in order for the pure enjoyment and to marvel at how tightly written it is. Uh oh, once again this is illegal under the time shifting limitations of Bill C-61 as I am not allowed to keep these recordings indefinitely.

So those are two very innocuous ways in which I personally would be considered a criminal if Canadians don't get out and speak up against Bill C-61. Hopefully by this point you are wondering how you can speak out against the bill. Try any number of these helpful links:


Adem said...

I understand the legal ramifications that exist on paper, but how likely is it that they will be enforced on Joe user? My biggest concern is that ISPs will fear being subjected to harsh fines and immediately start actively limiting access to file sharing sites.

I understand that the vast majority of these sites are used for less than noble purposes, but when you enable these large sweeping measures to, let's face it, pander to large corps you end up punishing the innocent as well as the not-so-innocent.

Simon Mac Donald said...

Agreed it will be very difficult for them to determine if someone is copying a DVD for personal use but the bill gives the government the ability to force the ISP's to restrict access to sites which facilitate the copying of DVD's, i.e. breaking a digital lock. Additionally, it opens up the ISP's to be forced to inform on their customers and opens Canadians up to American style DCMA lawsuits. We've all seen those in the news, haven't we?

What really concerns me is the provision against keeping a recorded TV show indefinitely. Does this mean that Bell and Rogers will be required to scan your PVR at regular intervals and delete shows older than X days?