Canwest's Sarah Schmidt features an terrific story in which Industry Minister Tony Clement admits that he has infringed copyright in loading songs onto his iPod. Like many Canadians, Clement says that he shifted many CDs to his iPod, which now contains over 10,000 songs. What makes the article noteworthy is not the acknowledgement of infringement – Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore admitted infringing activity in using his PVR last year – but rather the focus on the need to update copyright law by legalizing activities that most Canadians view as perfectly acceptable. Notes Clement:
"Well you see, you know I think I have to admit it probably runs afoul of the current law because the current law does not allow you to shift formats. So the fact of the matter is I have compact discs that I've transferred, I have compact discs from my children or my wife that I've transferred onto my iPod. None of that is allowable under the current regime. It shows that the current regime is not realistic and is not modern to encompass how people obtain their entertainment in today's world. That's what happens in a family. You do tend to share music that way and I think most people would find that to be perfectly acceptable behaviour. But our current law is so antiquated, it doesn't contemplate that situation."
While Clement clearly envisions updating the law, the article rightly notes that the addition of time shifting or format shifting (which would legalize recording television shows or shifting CDs to an iPod) could still be dependent on the absence of any digital locks. As I discussed earlier this week in my seven questions for Moore, the presence of a digital lock on a CD, DVD, electronic book, or other device trumps fair dealing rights. NDP MP Charlie Angus picks up on this issue:
"It's the issue that digital locks supersede everything else. You can provide any other kind of copyright protection guarantees for us to back up, and for research or study, but if there's a digital lock on it, then you get treated the same as an international bootlegger counterfeiter. That's just simply not a reasonable policy to foster innovation or to foster respect for copyright."