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Locking Out Lawful Users

Osgoode Hall Law School professor Carys Craig has a great post at the IP Osgoode site on her article in From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, the copyright book from Irwin Law that officially launches tomorrow. Craig’s article focuses on two key aspects of Bill C-32: the fair dealing reforms and the impact of the digital lock provisions.  On fair dealing, Craig brings much-needed perspective to the fair dealing reform, which has been the target of an ongoing fear mongering campaign that implausibly and inaccurately claims that it will erode Canadian culture.  Rather, Craig notes:

Educational, parodic and other transformative uses have long been recognized as potential fair uses in the United States. Indeed, the need to expressly include these specific exceptions in Canada speaks more to the shortcomings of the Canadian approach to fair dealing (in contrast to US fair use) than it does to the pursuit of a genuine balance between owners and users in the copyright reform process.

Craig reserves her harshest criticism for C-32’s digital lock provisions, which she describes as “unduly expansive,” concluding:

Bill C-32 fails to reflect the centrality of fair dealing and other exceptions in copyright law, treating them as marginal elements of the existing system that can be reduced or eliminated to better protect owner interests in the digital environment. In doing so, it threatens to significantly upset the copyright balance established in Canada and articulated by our Supreme Court.

The full article will be posted on the Irwin website shortly.  There are additional posts from Sara Bannerman and Blayne Haggart on their contributions to the book. 

Further, a reminder of the free, public event on Bill C-32 and copyright being hosted at the University of Ottawa tomorrow.  Six panelists from the book will be speaking, focusing on digital locks, WIPO, ethics, North American copyright, and open access to government data.

31 Comments

  1. Locking out legal users
    Here’s another example of what DRM can do – preventing good old Nap from listening to his legally purchased SACDs through his equipment of choice.

    As any audiophile may confirm, all the rage these days is in using state of the art, professional quality Digital to Analog Converters (DAC) as to ensure the best use of the digital information stored on CDs/SACDs/etc. For those willing to explore the technology, I’ll give a link to a highly acclaimed one made by a Canadian company:

    http://www.stereophile.com/digitalprocessors/bryston_bda-1_da_converter/index.html

    Basically I would like to connect my SACD player’s digital output to the DAC and then the DAC output to the amplifier and speakers. Note that in such setup NO COPIES OF THE ORIGINAL MATERIAL ARE EVER MADE. I just want to listen to the original SACD disc!

    Guess what. It’s not possible. DRM tech prevents me from doing that, as $ony decided that when playing SACD disks the digital outputs of the player shalt be disabled (to prevent “pirates” to copying “high quality” signal lol).

    Which in the end completely defeats the whole purpose of buying SACDs – getting better quality through your equipment of choice – since this is verboten by DRM.

    No wonder SACDs don’t sell any better than vinyl these days. But, if you ask RIAA/CRIA, they will surely point to “the pirates” as being the culprits.

    Nap.


  2. This was probably fallout from back in the late 80’s when such limitations were first implemented on DATs under pressure from the RIAA.

    I’m assuming you’re using S/PDIF since there are no such limitations on TOSLINK. So, either your DAC or SACD player is not S/PDIF compliant, would that be correct? (i.e. Does not implement SCMS, “Serial Copy Management System”, properly or at all) OR, are all SACD players, by design, made to work like this?

    To me, it seems to be a similar sort of deal as HDMI, provided everything is compliant, everything should talk fine without any loss. In my thinking if the DAC and SACD player are compliant, you should be able to output each channel to individual applifiers, or even multiple amps per channel in the case of bi-amped speakers, or to whatever granularity you like (It shouldn’t matter they be cheap transistor or extremely high end tube amps). It must become analog at some point.

    If this is not possible using SACD…then the standard is flawed and why spend the money on the disks or hardware?

    See this, an interesting description of SCMS (The copy protection behind S/PDIF) and the demise of the DAT deck at the hands of the RIAA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_Copy_Management_System


  3. @IanME: “are all SACD players, by design, made to work like this? ”

    Yes. They all have SPDIF and/or TOSLINK but will not output high res digital through them when playing SACDS. This was intentional and mandated by Sony if you wanted to license SACD from them.

    There are two notable exceptions of SACD players that had HDMI outputs and passed SACD through them: the PlayStation 3 (however the latest firmware updates *removed* the SACD functionality so it doesn’t count anymore) and the discontinued Sony SACD player SCD-XA5400ES.

    But then I know of no stereo DAC that has HDMI/HDCP compliant input. So still no joy.

    Yes, after many years it appears that the SACD DRM is too abusive/intrusive so SACD is going the way of the dodo bird. And not because of “the pirates”.

    To add insult to the injury, “the industry” was caught red handed with copying regular CD resolution tracks on SACD disks and selling them as “high resolution”. Frauds.

    Nap.

  4. @NAP
    “Yes. They all have SPDIF and/or TOSLINK but will not output high res digital through them when playing SACDS. This was intentional and mandated by Sony if you wanted to license SACD from them.”

    This seems counter-intuitive…to create a hi-def standard and then limit all the hardware so that it can’t actually output the signal. It reaks of the RIAA and market control…almost exactly waht happened to DACs.

    Not sure if it’s what you’re looking for, but “Wyred 4 Sound” makes a DAC that will take an HDMI input.
    http://www.wyred4sound.com/

  5. correction…
    “almost exactly waht happened to DACs.”

    should have read “DATs”.


  6. @IanME: “This seems counter-intuitive…to create a hi-def standard and then limit all the hardware so that it can’t actually output the signal.”

    Leave it to “the industry” and that’s exactly what you’ll get, intuitive or not. That’s why I’m all against the DRM provisions in C-32.

    With Brazil’s copyright law model, and now that HDCP has been broken, I could probably buy a “HDMI/HDCP decoder” (i.e. a black box that decrypts and converts HDMI to SPDIF), insert it between the SACD player and the DAC, and be done with it. And “the industry” couldn’t say anything about it.

    With C-32 model, the black box would be illegal. And with ACTA, it would be seized at the border.

    And all this for listening to the original dis WITHOUT MAKING ANY KIND OF COPIES OF IT.

    Nap.

    Wit

  7. Things like Napalm pointed out are why things like TPMs usually end up being more trouble for the people who want to use things legally than they are at actually stopping piracy. Really does make it seem like a “control how the consumer does everything” rather than an actual way to stop piracy.

  8. In honor of the oh so intelligent media industry …
    There once was the RIAA
    who thought that they were the way
    they sued all their fans
    cut off their hands
    and now they have no way to pay.

  9. Market Control
    It’s never been about piracy, but they need a crux. It’s always been about market control, but that sounds bad when pitching a bill. I have a friend who used to work for BioWare, creator of hugely successful games such as the Baldur’s Gate series and Dragonage. In public, they scream piracy, piracy, piracy, while in reality, during private meetings, they could care less about piracy. They lose far more on second-hand game sales than they do on piracy. It’s “Electronic Boutique” and other second-hand game stores they’re secretly trying to kill. They want DRM to basically kill the right of first sale.

  10. They’ve pretty much got that with the computer game side of things today. I can’t think of anywhere left that sells second hand computer games because most of the new ones are tied to some central account structure (like Steam, Battle.Net or Windows Live). Or computer games are MMOs where the sale technically is not in the software client, but the ability to open an account.

    Though on the computer side, some are more annoying than others, I, as a consumer, don’t mind the tie a game to one login method since it’s not really an inconvenience. Not like the old ones that try to make sure you only can install it X number of times, must be online all the time to play at all, etc.

  11. @Chris A
    Yes, but perhaps, due to my own background, my choice of games was ill chosen, computer games are only a small percentage of the gaming market and the easiest to pirate. A vast majority of the market lies with PS3, XBox and Wii. I don’t own a console system, but I would assume it to be harder to justify and more difficult to lock down a console game. If I’m paying $60+ for a console game, I damn well expect to be able to sell it when I’m done…or I won’t buy it. I used to spend good money on computer games, but it’s crap like this why I buy all my games from the $10-or-less bins or through Steam…again $10-or-less. That way, if I don’t like it or it doesn’t work…no great loss.

    I’m playing Silent Hill 3 right now (Released in 2003). The graphics aren’t great by today’s standards, and the controls are designed for PS2, so clunky on the PC, but the game is still good. Older games tend to have better writing which can often overshadow some of the technical downfalls. One example I often use is “Zork”. It was a computer game written in the late 70’s and ran on DEC PDP-10 mainframe machines. It was one of the first interactive fiction games and was completely text. It didn’t matter since the writting was so good. The writers created this entire world, a complete mythology, you had to actually think and use your imagination, something completely lost on so many games today. Three of those former writers went on to form Infocom which eventually merged with Activision. The Zork Anthology (The 5 original text-based games only) is still for sale today on Amazon ($60.99usd) and the first 3 have been reformatted to run on the Kindle plateform. 15 sequels/spin-offs would eventually be released, 2 were basically like an interactive comic book and only 4 were graphical, the remaining 9 were all text. The last stand-alone game was released in 1997. In 2009 they released “Legends of Zork”, a persistent on-line game, with free membership. Few games have this kind of staying power…and you know what…they did it without DRM. 😀

  12. Zork
    @IamMe – Here here! “….and you know what…they did it without DRM”

    I agree, I won’t purchase a game anymore with restrictive DRM because of all the issues with Ubisoft’s new DRM. StarCraft II same thing. I just went back and purchase CIV IV (already owned a copy on DVD) and CIV V (no DRM there) just to be able to play on flights while traveling. Unfortunately some of these companies are shooting themselves in the foot because along with the two “Professional games” I picked up two more “Indie” games for 1.99 each and actually have played them more then CIV V (even though CIV V is excellent).

    DRM just makes you go to another company that doesn’t treat paying customers like criminals.

  13. Sandy Crawley says:

    Another must-read on copyright
    Another key text on copyright was launched at Osgoode yesterday, “Copyright,Contracts,Creators” subtitled New Media, New Rules by Giusepinna D’Agostino.
    It is carefully researched and written with a great narrative that makes it highly accessible. Published by Edward Elgar, ISBN 978-1-84720-106-5

  14. @IamME
    What they are doing with consoles game is that by purchasing the game new, you get a free DLC. If you buy it used, you have to pay for that. For console games that support DLC anyway. It really only matters to those who actually want to play the DLC.

    As for me, I like things like Steam and Battle.Net (for Starcraft 2). While yes they lock you into an account and has some downsides, it also allows you to download you games for free whenever you want if you happen to loose your copy, switch computers, etc. It’s DRM in a way, but with a perk that actually makes it worth while.

  15. I spent many hours playing Zork back in the day. Still have fond memories. I’m surprised it’s not on the iTunes store. One more reason for me to buy a kindle to use when I am travelling.


  16. @CndCitizen: “DRM just makes you go to another company that doesn’t treat paying customers like criminals.”

    Wishful thinking. Criminals have well established “fair” rights. According to C-32 bill, DRM users have none.

    Nap.

  17. @Sandy Crawley
    Sounds like it could be an interesting book. Based on a quick review, it seems to focus mostly on freelance side of things. I do think this is an important one to focus on though as I can see that being more of the future than it is now.

    I’d be happy if Canadian copyright protected them more than it may now, since that seems to be the crux of the book based on a quick summary I’ve been able to find. As long as of course it doesn’t overly reduce the rights of consumers.

  18. Re: games
    One game I have at home, Battlefield 2142, has a pair of issues.

    1) In order to play it, you MUST have online access from that computer. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but at least once you need to have registered with the publisher and created an account… Once that is done you can disconnect from the internet and play in single player mode (offline). The bonus of offline mode is that the game doesn’t download, at run time, ads for rendering in-game.

    2) The game uses Punkbuster anti-cheating. Until recently Punkbuster would consider you to be cheating if you had a widescreen format monitor and only allow offline play. This was eventually changed with the latest update to the game. Apparently the original rationale was that the expanded field of view provided by the widescreen was considered to give the user an unfair advantage.

    Note that the box did not indicate that an online connection was required, only that it was needed for online play, nor did it indicate that the game was crippled in offline play or that widescreen monitors were considered to be cheating.

    I am not sure if something like Punkbuster should be considered to be a DRM, although there are those that would attempt to argue it is. However, if it was allowed to be considered as a DRM it is a good example of why DRMs should not be given special protection, at least for home use. Ditto for the ability to play on a machine which does not have internet access.

    For the record I’ve got no issue with the law stating that breaking DRM in order to facilitate an otherwise illegal activity is in itself illegal and has its own penalties. For instance, breaking DRM to facilitate commercial and non-personal copying. I add non-personal as I’ve got no problem with making a copy for yourself and your immediate family. But don’t make one for someone who isn’t.

  19. @Anon-K
    “I am not sure if something like Punkbuster should be considered to be a DRM, although there are those that would attempt to argue it is. However, if it was allowed to be considered as a DRM it is a good example of why DRMs should not be given special protection, at least for home use. Ditto for the ability to play on a machine which does not have internet access.”

    Yet back in June, this is precisely one of the uses Danielle LaBossiere Parr of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada stated. I guess we NEED to make cheating at a game illegal in Canada. This is perhaps the weakest, most insanely ludicrous arguement for DRM I’ve ever seen.

    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/5133/125/


  20. @IanME: “I am not sure if something like Punkbuster should be considered to be a DRM,”

    It has the characteristics of “spyware” and “backdoors”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware

    I gave up on PC games exactly because of Punkbuster. Particularly the moment in its history when it decided to run at all times (not only when playing the game it came with – Battlefield 2 in my case and yes I legally bought it).

    Hey game programmers. The game is yours but the computer is MINE. I don’t agree that you completely take it over.

    Nap.

  21. Yup…
    It’s tactics like this that drive people to pirate software. I know many people who will buy a game, then immediately download a crack for it before even installing it…simply because it usually runs better cracked than retail. Bioshock was a prime example. The cracked LOLCats version was vastly more stable than the retail version. It’s a short step from there to only resort to cracked versions…forgoing the purchase altogether.


  22. @IanME: “It’s tactics like this that drive people to pirate software.”

    I didn’t even bother with that. I moved my gaming to a console. They’re free to install as many backdoors and spyware on that as they want – since, unlike a PC, it doesn’t hold personal information such as my resume, tax return files, family photos and whatnot. And there’s no “serial numbers” and “activation” to go through – just insert the disk and play; or sell/exchange the disk if you don’t like it that much. There’s one notable exception with EA Games whom insist in “registering” and “activating” the games against their own servers in addition to Sony’s Network. I just don’t buy anything from them.

    Nap.


  23. I haven’t owned a console since the original Nintendo. 🙂 I’ll switch to a console when they come out with a workable keyboard and mouse for one. I primarily play first person shooters and find gameplay suffers greatly with standard console controllers. Console controllers just don’t give you the fine grained speed and motion control a mouse gives you.


  24. @IanME: “I primarily play first person shooters and find gameplay suffers greatly with standard console controllers.”

    I used to think the same but not any more. The learning curve is steep but you’ll be amazed what a skilled player can do with the standard controller.

    The big thing is that your adversary has exactly the same hardware as you. And hacks on the PS3 are rare. So this levels the playground quite nicely for online multiplayer FPS.

    Nap.

  25. @Nap
    “The big thing is that your adversary has exactly the same hardware as you. And hacks on the PS3 are rare. So this levels the playground quite nicely for online multiplayer FPS.”

    It’s not that I’m worried about people cheating or gaining an advantage since I rarely have time to play on-line…even if I did play a lot on line, all the power to them…it’s part of the game!! The only game I play on-line is L4D2 and it’s been months since the last time. It isn’t a weakess of the controller, it’s a weakness of the user…in this case, me. Console controllers offer other fine-grained controls not possible on the PC. What it comes down to is that I’m a high speed adrenaline junky both in gaming and real life. In the game I have the mouse tracking turned way up for super fast response. I simply find the console controller slows me down. Even a little bit is enough to bother me to the point where I would likely find it unplayable.


  26. @IanME: “It’s not that I’m worried about people cheating or gaining an advantage […] it’s part of the game!!”

    Sounds like you’re working for Wall/Bay Street? 🙂

    Nap. 🙂


  27. LOL Only in games…and only for regular, non-tournament play. 😀 Still, if you sign and agreenet to not cheat, getting caught should carry some censequeces. My favorite example of this is I remember some guy who got caught cheating in I think it was Everquest, and the admins didn’t suspend or terminate his account, they striped him of all his belongings, crusified him in the town square and left him there for week so everyone could see the cheater. I like this punishment. It teaches him a lesson and most importantly probably maintains him as a paying customer.

    Cheater maintenance should be a responsibility of the coder/administrator and has no place to be legislated with DRM/TMP crap. Still if a person finds a way to cheat, it should NOT by any means be illegal in Canadian law. This would be a gross misuse of power.

  28. this seemed like a nice place for this
    http://www.fastcompany.com/1695219/cia-predator-drones-facing-ip-lawsuit?partner=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed: fastcompany/headlines (Fast Company Headlines)&utm_content=Google Reader

    on the suggestion that all players in this enterprise of copyright are equal, exit stage left.

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  30. BSA news
    News from BSA:

    http://www.fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20101016-01.en.html

    Basically they were caught lobbying for adoption of heavily patented communication/interoperability standards/protocols.

    Nap.

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