Canadian Heritage James Moore appeared on CBC’s Power & Politics yesterday to defend Bill C-32 and to speak out against the ACTRA proposal for extending the private copying levy (Industry Minister Tony Clement did the same in the Globe). In doing so, he made the case for why the digital lock provisions in the bill are so problematic (at roughly 1:24:00). According to Moore:
When I buy a movie, I’ve paid for the movie. To ask me to pay for it a second time through another device – and to assume that I’m doing illegal copying, to assume that I’m being a pirate, to assume that I’m thieving from people because I happen to own an MP3 player or a BluRay player or a laptop, I think treats consumers unfairly.
While Moore was thinking of the prospect of additional payments through a levy, the words apply equally to the digital lock provisions that make it an infringement for consumers to circumvent locks in order to watch the movie they’ve purchased on a second device. In fact, in some instances – for example, DVDs with non-North American region codes – it involves infringement for merely trying to access the content for the first time.
Moore’s point is exactly what many consumers have been saying for months. When they purchase a DVD, they should have the right to watch the movie on the device of their choice and to transfer a copy onto portable video players or other similar devices. Unfortunately, Bill C-32 does precisely what Moore warns against – it assumes that all consumers will engage in illegal copying, act as pirates, or seek to steal from others by treating digital locks as paramount to all other rights. Moore gets the principle right but not the implementation since Canadian copyright law should allow consumers to circumvent for non-infringing purposes. To do otherwise, is – in the words of the Minister – to treat consumers unfairly.