With news this week of a Canadian settlement of the Sony rootkit case, it is worth revisiting the admonishment that case elicited from Stewart Baker, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary of policy. As noted earlier this series, Baker reminded the recording industry that "it's very important to remember that it's your intellectual property – it's not your computer. And in the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it's important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days."
Baker's focus was on keeping personal computers secure. There is another related concern associated with DRM and personal computers – taking steps to avoid system damage or malfunction as well as repairing products that have suffered damage from DRM. These unintended consequences are an inevitable result of widespread DRM use. There are dozens of DRM products and there will be instances of harm to some computer systems (computer systems broadly defined to include personal computers, handheld devices, DVD players, and other similar products). Canadians must surely have the right to protect and repair their personal computers, whose value far outweighs the cost of the product that can be the source of harm or damage. Consistent with a recommendation by the Australian Parliamentary review committee, Canadian anti-circumvention legislation should include a right to circumvent to avoid damage or malfunction, as well as to repair, computer systems.