Monday, July 5, 2010

Copyright Law and Bill C-32

I was looking at Dan's Twitter and started following Michael Geist. Then I read his blog. I wanted to do something, and at first was disappointed that he didn't provide a form letter. I spent almost two hours on the following, and in the end was glad that I took the time to put my own concerns in my own words. I sent it by soft and hard copy to the contacts below.

I'll try to keep this succinct. I'm concerned about Bill C-32. Obviously the world of 2010 is very different from previous decades with respect to the production, transmission and consumption of information and media. Obviously copyright reform is required. I am a software developer. I have a vested interest in copyright. I vote.

I support many aspects of Bill C-32, but the DRM section is simply ridiculous. The issue is that if a producer has shipped some media protected by a "digital lock", then removing that "digital lock" or building a device that can remove that "digital lock" would be a crime. As has been pointed out by many others before me, this idea is fundamentally flawed.

1. Bill C-32 is intentionally vague about the definition of a "digital lock". Even if the lock is simple, so long as it is there, it would be illegal to break it. Furthermore, devices that can break it would be illegal. But these devices are just algorithms, which a person could perform by hand. There was a time that MD5 was considered a cryptographically secure hash algorithm. Today it can be defeated by paper and pencil. My point is that smart humans are devices capable of defeating "digital locks". The law would make smart humans illegal.

2. It is impossible to prevent the reproduction of media with a "digital lock". Most media enters a person through their ears or eyes. By putting a light recording device in front of the eyes and a sound recording device beside the ears, any media can be copied. This example is extreme, but the idea of copying the media after the controlling device has formatted it for output (i.e. at the audio/video-out layer) has been used for a long time.

3. The above two points demonstrate that the digital-lock-as-law idea is non-functional. It should matter what people do with media, not how they do it. If I store a copy of some media in a box in my back-yard to protect against the risk of loss in case my house burns down, that should be okay, no matter how I made the copy. If I start copying and selling someone else's intellectual property, that should be a crime, no matter how I made the copy. I think that much is obvious to everyone.

4. Information and technology moves faster than all of us. Look at iTunes. Look at Google. They are obviously successful. Their focal point is obviously not DRM. Those companies who have made DRM their flag-ship are dinosaurs. Don't tie our country, our citizens, our economy to their sinking ship. We need copyright reform, not copyright imprisonment.

I don't require a reply. I'm just stating my point of view.
<my address, occupation, signature>

Find your MP
Mine is Paul Dewar:
Paul Dewar c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6.

The Prime Minister:
Used this instead of email.
Stephen Harper c/o Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, K1A 0A2.

Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry:
Tony Clement c/o Office of the Minister of Industry, 235 Queen Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H5.

James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage:
James Moore c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6.

Michael Chong, the Chair of the House of Commons Industry Committee:
Michael Chong c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff:
Michael Ignatieff c/o Liberal Party of Canada, 81 Metcalfe Street, Suite 400, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6M8.

NDP Leader Jack Layton:
Jack Layton c/o House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6.

Canadian Heritage's Copyright Policy Branch:
Used this instead of email.
Department of Canadian Heritage, Copyright Policy Branch, 275 Slater Street, 7th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0M5.

Industry Canada's Intellectual Property Policy Directorate:
(couldn't find a hard-copy address)

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