Digital Locks Emerge As Election Issue in Battleground Riding

Digital locks emerged as one of the first issues discussed last night in one of Canada’s most hotly contested ridings. An all-candidates debate in Kitchener -Waterloo, home of RIM and one of the closest ridings in the 2008 election, moved quickly to a discussion of digital locks and the “PlayBook tax” during one of the first questions on the most pressing issues in the riding.

In response to that question, Liberal candidate Andrew Telegdi pointed specifically to the PlayBook tax discussion and the burden it poses to the area’s key company. Telegdi’s comments struck a chord with both the audience and the Pirate Party panelist, who focused on the broader digital lock concerns. Conservative candidate (and incumbent) Peter Braid noted that he sat on the C-32 committee and that the protection for digital locks supported RIM’s intellectual property. Yet as the discussion continued, it became clear that the concern over C-32′s digital locks is not about RIM’s ability to protect its IP, but rather about the additional layer of legal protection for content that consumers purchase and might want to play on the PlayBook. The debate highlighted yet again how C-32′s digital lock rules stand as the most criticized aspect of the bill that run counter to basic consumer expectations and fairness. 

Interestingly, within hours of the debate, former Liberal industry critic Marc Garneau posted a tweet confirming his party’s support for “digital lock circumvention for non-infringing purposes.” The Liberals are not alone in their opposition to the provision as it stood in C-32. The NDP have also confirmed their interest in re-examining the digital lock rules, while the Greens have stated “we consider the digital lock provision in Bill C-32 to be excessively restrictive in that it will not allow students and journalists to properly create and conduct research.”


  1. What the…
    What is it with the cons? Freaking EVERYONE wants digital locks properly amended (or however you say that) but the cons just.. sit there not representing Canada on this issue.

    Why are they even running in the elections?

  2. Look at the pretty bubbles …
    According to certain copyright purists this is a facile ‘non-issue’ that no one cares about. Now let’s move onto the popular topic of strengthening creator rights …

  3. Someone explain how allowing the messing around with digital locks helps the creator or developer? if you can’t, then you only have the POV of the consumer, so why make comments.

    If the government allows digital locks to be picked in the first place then its seems pointless to even have them. Why don’t they just flat out ban digital locks? Seem like that is what most people reading this blog want.

  4. Hi Jenny,

    That is easy: if content has a digital lock that will prevent me from format shifting content to suit my needs, than I will not purchase it. If the creators or developers insist that the locks be deemed unbreakable, then they are harming themselves by means of lost sales.

  5. Jenny,

    Hmm, consumers having input into copyright, an issue that it supposed to be a balance between creators and consumers, just seems to skew the whole thing, doesn’t it? Problem is that the people, like the ones commenting on this blog, don’t seem to have the lobbying ability of the creators (or, more appropriately, the creator’s bosses), so why make comments.

    ANd BTW, if I can’t transfer my paid-for content to devices that I wish to to enjoy said content, then I no longer purchase said content. Does that help the creator or developer?

  6. @Michael
    Agreed. There are certain DRM options that game developers (or publishers) have used that have destroyed the customer experience. This resulted in significant lost sales.

    Creators want the money. Customers have the money.
    Piss of the customer, and creator won’t get customer’s money.

  7. @Jenny said: …
    If the government allows digital locks to be picked in the first place then its seems pointless to even have them.

    But didn’t you get the memo. Anything that has to do with “digital” breaks all commons sense laws.

  8. Chris Brand says:

    I can legally break into a house or car if they belong to me or if I’m a locksmith employed by the owner to do so. By your logic, that means that it’s pointless to lock my front door or my car.

    I bought DVDs in England and a DVD player in Canada. How does it make any sense that it should be illegal for me to play my DVDs in my DVD player ? And yet I have to break the “region encoding” “digital lock” in order to do so. I don’t think of this as a “consumer perspective” but as a “property rights” perspective.

  9. @Michael R,

    I am not sure if your point is for or against allowing the picking locks, not allowing the picking locks, or banning locks. If putting a digital lock on my creation takes away from my sales then I won’t put it on – and so, no need to pick it, why not do that? That’s my point/question.

    Lets say I decide I don’t want my creation tampered with so as a safeguard I put a lock on it. This means I don’t want it tampered with or copied to your new future device or any other device. I fully understand the consequences, you will not like my creation, but isn’t that my choice as creator and my business plan? And if that is unfair of me to do so, then shouldn’t I be banned from putting a lock on it in the first place?

  10. Devil's Advocate says:

    I don’t know if you are in the creation or development side of things, but you do sound like you could be, as you’re displaying that same narrow (read “uneducated”) view that the only reason the whole IP-Copyright thing exists is for the benefit of just those who create and license.

    For that reason, you need to:

    1) Investigate the origins of copyright, and the intentions behind it, and how that hasn’t actually changed.

    2) Ask yourself how/if DRM (or even copyright itself) actually helps the creators and/or developers.

    3) Ask yourself how/if piracy actually harms (or helps!) creators and/or developers.

    Sorry, Jenny, if I come across as a bit terse, but I’m getting really tired of hearing the same old unsubstantiated crap being parroted all over the place, by those living inside the protective bubble of an IP-centric business model. Stuff that holds no water, yet gets blindly and faithfully repeated by people such as yourself, without even half an understanding of what’s going on, or what copyright actually is.

  11. Dear Jenny …
    The argument of ‘if you don’t like the lock don’t buy it’ is a semi-valid one, it depends on the scale. If almost all the available content is locked (as in movies) that leaves little or no consumer choice at all, this is problematic. On the other hand if there are viable choices and licensing models then I see your argument as valid.

    I think though that you will find in a open market with flexible and varied choice between DRM media or not, that DRM would quickly be devolved from the ecosystem.

  12. @Devil, I couldn’t tell you were being terse, discussion is how people learn. You are just avoiding the question. Why don’t you answer my question first?

    Anyhow, on your points,
    1) okay, copyright hasn’t changed – okay, but mass distribution of my creation has, so I think someone is going to ignore the copyright, so I foolishly want to lock it. I don’t want people to pick my lock, otherwise I would put a pain-in-the-neck copy hindering device on it. My choice – a lock is for locking.
    2) So my choice, free country right, I think that copyright helps creator. Oh wait, I changed my mind, it hurts my book but helps my software. If you or the government don’t like it then don’t allow me to lock it.
    3) Sometimes it helps sometimes it doesn’t, you think otherwise? Why, do you think it always helps? If so, you have a one size fits all approach – a sign of a hedgehog (versus a fox).

    People have different needs for different things. Don’t buy my creation if you don’t want a locked software buy instead, I did. If I am unfair, then don’t let me put a lock on it. A lock is for locking. If you don’t need a lock don’t put a lock on it just copyright it. I don’t see how that is hard to understand. If you need a lock do you want someone picking it?

    Hedgehogs need to see things from the fox point of view sometimes.

  13. Jason Locklin says:

    Someone explain how allowing the messing around with digital locks helps the creator?
    Jenny said: “Someone explain how allowing the messing around with digital locks helps the creator or developer? if you can’t, then you only have the POV of the consumer, so why make comments. ”

    I can easily come up with a few examples. Authors have long used quotes, sometimes rather large ones in their writings. Journalists and bloggers need to be able to copy samples from various types of media to “create” their reports. Musicians have long had the ability to copy tunes, melodies and rhythms from each other. However, more recently many have experimented with sampling sounds from one-another’s recordings. I can’t imagine a documentary about anything culturally important without gratuitous sampling of a wide range of video clips and other media. Archivists and other creators may even require samples from archaic media -decades from now that archaic media could be locked down with proprietary and unknown digital locks even if they somehow fall into the public domain.

    While you may not agree with some of the behaviours above, they are all creators and they are all hampered by digital locks. Nothing is created in a vacuum, and excess restrictions on the use of knowledge and culture hampers innovation and creativity.

  14. Devil's Advocate says:

    Hedgehog vs Fox???

    You really DO need an education on all this stuff.

    It’s the “one size fits all” model of *untamperable locks* that sparked this whole page. If you read some of the other comments, it’s clear to see that people are arguing for something more realistic, something with flexibility and adaptability.

    It would appear that YOU came into this as a “hedgehog”.

    As for “avoiding the questions”…
    My whole point was your questions were misguided and inapplicable to what copyright is supposed to be about.

    As I said, some people grow up or into an idea, only because they’re not exposed to the whole story. You appear to be one of those. (Hmmm, that would also describe a hedgehog, now wouldn’t it?!)

  15. @Jenny

    Maybe I’m just bored here at work but I couldn’t understand what you wrote there.

    To me as someone who only downloads music and movies I already own (I have 100′s and 100′s of cd’s and dvd’s) having the option for personal backups but having it taken away by you the content creator tells me one thing, you don’t want me to move my paid for media to other devices. You want me to buy it over and over ever time I want to play it on a different device. Now I have to problems with you doing what you want to do, its your right to do it, but at least have the courtesy of letting me know before I buy you’re item that its Locked. A nice DRM Locked sticker on the front would suffice. I can guarantee you no one would buy it and with in one day of release those who could care less about the lock will have it unlocked and already out on the Internet.

    Thinks about it, someone bought something in digital form that you created, they already PAID you money for that item, why would you need to have a digital lock on that item?

    Copy right laws already protect you from people that pirate and sell your product commercially.

  16. Digital locks and my vote
    People can endlessly argue back and forth about the pros and cons of digital locks. Creators and publishers will argue that they can’t make a living without digital locks. Consumers will argue that they can’t use the content they purchased in the way they would like to because of digital locks. I’m a consumer. If I buy an ebook, I would like the option of reading it on my Sony Reader or on my Blackberry Playbook. Digital locks prevent me from having that option.

    I don’t think arguing my point of view here will change anything. However, since the Conservative Party has made it clear that they will be re-introducing Bill C-32 as is if they are re-elected, I will not be voting Conservative. For the record, I voted Conservative in the last two elections.

  17. Control of distribution

    You, the creator, don’t actually control the digital lock. The device manufacturer does. By doing so, they turn the device into a distribution channel they control. They can use that control as leverage against artists and consumers.

    Take the example of Mark Fiorre’s attempt to distribute his political cartoons to iPad owners via Apple’s app store. Apple turned the app down because they (gasp!) mocked public figures. So we have a willing seller (Fiorre) and willing buyers (his fans) but no transaction – because Apple says no. And it would be *illegal* to work around the restriction.

    The ability to control distribution channels allows distributors to acquire monopoly or near monopoly power. This is why the recording industry chose to sell unlocked music: Apple’s control over digital locks prevented consumers from moving their music to competing devices. This locked in consumers: it also locked in music publishers – to reach their market, they had to play by Apple’s rules. Fortunately, wide support for the MP3 format offered . Without that alternative, Apple might well own music distribution today, to the detriment of artists and consumers alike. For iPad apps there is no such alternative – and that’s likely to be a pattern for future attempts at monopoly.

    This is what is missed by anyone who talks about the freedom of individual artists to lock or not to lock, or of consumers to buy or not to buy. Digital locks have to be understood ecologically.

    In Fiorre’s case, he had won a Pulitzer Prize – Apple backed down. Most artists don’t have that kind of pull.

  18. And that, Jenny, is what anyone with a creator perspective can expect over here in free-culture-land. Obnoxious lectures on how little you know and how unreasonable your positions are. It’s what they call “working at coming to a greater understanding of all viewpoints, to be willing to compromise on both sides and generate a environment of goodwill and respect where a more functional relationship can flourish.”

    I hope you enjoyed your experience here.

    You’re absolutely right about everything you’ve said, by the way. There is no point in allowing folks to lock up their own property if the breaking of those locks is not prohibited by law.

    MikeB holds a common misconception that copyright is and always was intended to be equally balanced between the concerns of creators and consumers. That’s simply not true. Copyright was always conceived as an exclusive right of control over intellectual property for the creator of that property. The “consumer” or purchaser of copies didn’t factor into it at all.

    Copyright does allow certain provisions for other users of the work, but those original “users” were other folks intending to commercially exploit the work they did not create.

    Anyway, it has evolved over time, but the idea that the consumer has rights over the original work after buying a mere copy is brand new, and incorrect.

    And that’s the core of the misunderstanding around DRM. There is an essential difference between the rights attached to the original and the privileges sold to the consumer with their copy of the original.

    The dude who bought the DVD player and the region coded DVD is understandably upset, but it’s not the fault of either the creator of the film or the seller of the DVD that dude bought the wrong copy for his player. That fault belongs only and exclusively to dude.

  19. The fox and the hound …
    John, I have coined a new term for you … copyright purist. In my definition it’s someone who sees copyright as the sole tool of the creator with no rights, input or benefit to the public or even the purchaser of copyrighted materials.

    Jenny, this is of course a valid position which generally reflects current contractual law, and someone who holds to it is welcome to do so.

    The difficulty is as copyrighted media has moved into the digital age it has fundamentally changed both the needs of the purchaser and the ability to control distribution by the copyright holder.

    This has led to a marketplace where the products being offered do not match the desires of the consumer. It also gives the consumer a way to obtain the product they do want, ethically vaild or no, to the great detriment of the copyright holder.

    John wants to use the bludgeon method to solve this dilemma … disproportionate fines, legislative lobbying, anticompetive methods and privacy invasion. Now if you have authoratarian worldview you may be content with living with such behavior, there is a vast number of people out there who are not.

    The further reality is this mentality pushes people away from wanting to play fair with you the creator and with such easy tools at hand can just bypass all the bother the DRM and it’s restrictions creates.

    Now John will poo-poo people who want to see things changed, saying all they are concerned about is getting things for free and ‘stripping creators of their rights’. Well, for me personally anyways, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, there are people out there who will take and not give a hoot, laughing all the while, but you will never reach them anyways and likely never catch them.

    I would like to see a healthier market place where people respect creators and in turn they offer the consumer value and flexability. The current copyright framework and the even more totalinarian one John envisions are steps backward from where we need to be heading.

    So Jenny, please hear what John says, for it is a prevelent view, but also understand that the charicture he paints of those who do not support his world view is just that, and a poorly scribbled one to boot.

  20. Crockett,

    Please don’t pretend you understand my opinions or viewpoints on anything, especially copyright. You don’t, and so any attempt you make to represent my thinking is little more than – as most people spell it – caricature.

    I don’t “see” copyright as anything other than what it is. I find it helps to know how something actually works before trying to change how it works. If that makes me a “purist,” so be it.

    When I watch baseball I expect the home team to get a full 27 outs in a regulation 9-inning game. I guess that makes me a baseball purist.

    When I want to drive to Montreal from my home, I expect to move in an easterly direction. I suppose folks over here would call me a geography purist.

  21. What’s good for the goose
    @Degen “Please don’t pretend you understand my opinions or viewpoints”

    John, I have been dialoguing with you for two years now so I have a fairly good idea what your views are.

    Secondly, you do this very thing all the time and make no bones about it. Labeling everyone who dosen’t agree with you a ‘free culture’ badge, even if they ask you to refrain.

    Just the other day on your blog you stated that almost all who leave comments are file freeloaders and don’t pay for any content.
    An unsupportable hypothosis, and quite the opposite of the truth most likely.

    So if you don’t like being pingeon holed yourself … learn to deal.

  22. Degen is incorrect
    Degen is dead wrong when he writes, “Copyright was always conceived as an exclusive right of control over intellectual property for the creator of that property. The “consumer” or purchaser of copies didn’t factor into it at all.”

    The first modern copyright law, the Statute of Anne, begins: “An act for the encouragement of learning.” It is justified not as a natural right, but as a restriction on printers to the benefit of authors and readers alike: “Whereas printers [and others] have . . . taken the liberty of printing . . . without the consent of the authors or proprietors of such books and writings, to their very great detriment, and too often to the ruin of them and their families . . . and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books.”

    (I say modern – earlier copyright had a different purpose altogether. It licensed printers as a tool for censorship.)

    Or read Dr. Peter Drahos, (look him up – he holds a related academic directorship and chair), who explains that copyright originated as a public privilege, but because of the language of rights is now thought of as a private right.

    There was a 1769 English case that found that copyright was a perpetual natural right, but it was overturned in Donaldson v Beckett which confirmed that works would fall into the public domain as per the Statute of Anne.

    I don’t know where Degen gets his extreme interpretation from. He seems very certain of himself, but his claim is not consistent with scholarship or history.

  23. The simple path from point A to B is a straight line. If there should be no locks or labelled as such then that should be the focus not some way around it where you need to mess with a lock. Otherwise they will just invent better locks and you have to wait for some one to pick the lock again.

  24. Jenny, that sounds great. If you mean DRM by locks then yes that is the way things will inevitably go. The market is getting fed up with it and the market eventually gets it’s way. This does not have to be viewed as a negative for creators. The reality is DRM is always circumventable and just one copy in the wild can be distributed to the world in a matter of hours. It’s ineffective in preventing infringement and only dissuades customers from purchasing or having them acquiring by other means.

    By offering products in a way that people actually want to use them, so they can see the value and convenience, you’ll have contented paying customers. There will always be the thieves, but they will dwindle to the minority.

    For a real life example see …

  25. creators / digital locks
    @Jenny: Part of the issue is that creators no longer have control. They can choose, or not, to put a digital lock on. However, once it goes to some mass distribution mechanism, that distributor will put digital locks on it, perhaps against the wishes of the creator. The creator has lost their own choice in the matter.

    As said elsewhere, if there were multiple paths of distribution, some with, some without DRM, then, yes, market forces and choices would prevail.

    However … must distribution agreements, I expect, require signing over exclusive rights before they will touch it.

  26. market forces
    I’m not even convinced market forces would take out drm if it was weak.. It’s just such a counter intuitive concept that people wouldn’t understand.. If they were trying to sell a hammer that said in the fine print you were only allowed to use a particular brand of nails with it, people wouldn’t not buy the hammer because of it, they would just ignore it because it makes no sense for the company to have the right to control how you use it anyway. They can piss around with terminology all they want; they just plain have no business telling me what I can do with my own stuff.

  27. Degen again
    Jenny, like Crockett I have had my dealings with John for a few years. Although I won’t make the mistake of claiming I “understand” him, my impressions of him are formed from the statements and positions he takes in these “debates”.

    In the bell curve of opinions surrounding “creator’s rights”, John seems to stand as far from the center, as the extremists that would like to abolish all copyright completely. My impression is that he seems to elevate “creators rights” to the same stature as “human rights” and he does so in absolute terms, just as his counterparts at the other extreme do. From the telescope at either extreme, everyone else must be at the far end.

    The center of the bell curve tends to see such rights as more akin to “employee rights” or “business rights” or “consumer rights”. These kinds of “rights” are more malleable, and in practical terms vary over time and with technology and market shifts. I’m not trying to draw an analogy to any of these “rights”, I am just saying that “creators rights” are subject to the same kinds of forces that affect these other rights.
    Most of the participants around here tend to cluster within the largest part of the bell curve, but that doesn’t stop them from being opinionated or augmentative about the details.

    There is no denying that the digital age has affected “creators rights” and copyright, just as it has affected nearly every other part of our modern life. Creators aren’t the first, and they won’t be last segment affected in disturbing ways. The thing I find interesting from a sociological perspective, is the amount of “concern” surrounding creators, while there is very little surrounding all the previous people whose livelihood (and world view) has been disrupted. And many more to come. My observations of human nature tells me that some will fail but most will adapt. The overall advantages of the digital age, to society and individuals, outweigh the disruptions. Nothing will be the same as it used to be, nor can you really expect it to be.

    Like Crockett, I recommend you read what John says, and also everyone else. If you are looking for simple absolute answers, you won’t find any – except at the extremes. It’s messy inside the center of that bell curve, but that’s where the workable answers will be thrashed out.
    I’d also recommend that you get out in the street and malls, and listen to the people around you. Don’t ask or survey or engage, just listen. My impression is that the concerns of creators are mirrored in many other aspects of the advancing digital age, but no one wants it to stop either.

  28. So I buy a “Honest Eddies” brand toaster at “Honest Eddies”. Since “Honest Eddies” owner is elite/rich; he donates money during an election campaign (only $5000). “Honest Eddies” gets a new law passed that only “Honest Eddies” White Bread can be toasted in “Honest Eddies”brand toasters. LOL

  29. Radio
    Jenny, most people will agree that locks in itself is not a bad thing. If you want to put some on a product, have fun. However the problem comes in when it’s against the law to break these locks, no matter why.

    For example, an archivist, 50 years from now, could not make a backup of your work because it would be breaking the law. You could not make a copy of something for your four year old so that when she decides to take her mp3 player into the pool with her to listen to music, or throw a disc in her bag to bring it to grandmas without placing it in a case, you can’t just make her a new disc. That same daughter, now 14, is trying to make a presentation at school about digital media that her mother created. She can not, by law, take a piece of that creation and place it in her presentation because the distributor placed a lock on the content and doing so would be circumventing protection. Hell, you, yourself, if ever you where to loose the original copy of whatever you created, would legally not be entitled to break a lock in order to regain your original work and modify it.

    Just think about it.

    P.S. Degen buddy, I’ve been lurking these forums a long time and yea, crokett is not far off. Speaking of wich, whatever happened to that other guy, Barry Sookman. Haven’t seen a comment by him in ages.

  30. incorrect… like a fox

    I get my “extreme” interpretation by reading the full law (without the convenient ellipses), by thinking deeply about what is written, by speaking and debating with those considered to be the country’s top experts in intellectual property and copyright law, and by toiling for a quarter century as a professional cultural worker whose work is rightly and necessarily protected by copyright. I’m an award-winning professional writer with over twenty years experience also working in the world of professional publishing. I am regularly invited to give presentations on copyright and creators at universities and colleges, and I’ve been researching and writing on the subject of copyright and free culture for over a decade.

    Where do you get your interpretation?

    So, we’re busting out old Queen Anne, are we? Okay, let’s blow the dust off of her and see what she ACTUALLY says.

    The passage you quote about the encouragement of learning actually says:

    “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vest-
    ing the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or
    Purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein

    …. and when it mentions purchasers, it is NOT talking about consumers, but rather those who would purchase the rights to the book (publishers and printers). In fact, it is explicit about who is getting the exclusive rights over works. It is the author who “shall have the sole Right and Liberty.”

    Furthermore, by the very words you then quote (“the ruin of their families,” etc.) we can see this original copyright law was intended to protect authors and creators from piracy of their works, which was damaging them. No dispute about whether or not those pirates were actually helping sales back in Queen Anne’s day.

    Where in that document is the consumer mentioned AT ALL? Honestly, a full understanding of copyright law requires a bit more work (see above) than a simple Google search for the Statute of Anne.

    Crockett, I repeat — you haven’t a clue what my positions are on copyright. You make that clear with every new comment. Once again, I didn’t invent the term “free culture” or the underlying theories or the movement. Your pronouncements on this blog site that I shouldn’t label you or the vast majority of these commenters as free culture supporters are ridiculous. That is what you are, by self-definition. Of course, you’d have to actually know what the term free culture means to understand that. I’ve read all the relevant literature on the theories and movement. Have you?

    “Google-search it, you lousy kids.” — Mike Toth, sports broadcaster.

    Finally, oldguy, I do NOT elevate creators’ rights to the “stature” of human rights. I don’t have to — the entire world, through general agreement at the United Nations has already done so.

    Article 27 – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

  31. Joel,

    I’m not your buddy, but yeah, I can see how a longtime lurker might claim some authority. That’s some high-quality debating skill on display.

    Look… an archivist would not have to break a lock if they had permission to back-up the original work. And all that takes is a respectful interaction using real copyright law. Not difficult, not an emergency, not an issue.

    Why you would let your child near a pool with an electronic device is a larger issue for discussion on another forum, but I need to repeat that there are no automatic, unpriced “back-up” privileges for any other product in the world. Name one.

    Back-up privileges to remedy damage you cause yourself are not something that require (or even should require) changes in law. They are market-negotiated privileges. You want them, pay for them.

  32. The fox has no clothes.
    Hey there Degen,

    “and when it mentions purchasers, it is NOT talking about consumers, but rather those who would purchase the rights to the book”

    I’m not quite sure how that statement squares with:

    “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vest-
    ing the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or
    PURCHASERS OF SUCH COPIES, during the Times therein

    Weren’t you the one who taught us that the purchaser of a copy did not actually buy any rights to do anything with that copy?


    “Where in that document is the consumer mentioned AT ALL?”

    See above.


    Regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, please note that the right to participate in culture comes before the right to profit from it, which is as it should be.

  33. Concerned Hamster says:

    Encryption of information (the fundamental behind a digital lock) is as secure as the least of the encryption strength and the security of the key. When locking something that is to be unlocked by the public, they key is fundamentally in the public domain. It may be hard to find the key due to further security or obfuscation, but it does exist at some point as it has to be used to unlock the information. I find it most ridiculous that it can even be considered that using a key that is available to the public to access a piece of information available to the public could be considered wrong or illegal.

    A really bad annalogy: Lets say that someone rents a car and receives the keys to drive it, with permission to enter the car through the driver’s side door and drive the car. What would be wrong with that person choosing to enter the car through the open sunroof and driving away?

  34. radio bit
    You’d be surprised what pockets can hold. An mp3 player, phone. We’re not talking toasters here. Instead of pool, think lake. Little billy forgot he had his gameboy in his bathing suit pockets and then ran into the water. Someone thought it would be funny to drop things into the toilet and, low and behold, the thing they could get at was an ipod. Anyone who remembers being a kid, or has been a parent, knows how hard kids can be on things.

    Good point Degen, now tell me, what are you going to do about all those orphan works? Do you think that with the coming digital age, we’ll never again loose track of the author vs distributor vs reproducer?

    Oh, and hope you keep originals for everything, because from my understanding, even if it your own work, c-32 would make it not legal for you to break a lock. Ten years from now, are you sure cd players will still be readable?

    The funny thing is, my post is not really for you. It’s for Jenny. Those are scenarios that she may be put in that she might find understandable, not you.

    I also forgot the actual radio part of my last post. If I listen to the radio while working, no problem. If I do it close to a waiting room, it’s considered public broadcasting and could get my employer in a whole lot of trouble. I really think it’s sad I can’t even listen to the radio at work anymore. Ditto for carwash fundraisers in mall parking lots.

  35. Darryl,

    You skipped over the “thinking deeply about what is written” step in copyright law understanding. Not a surprise.

    If you read the full document (there’s another step you skipped), you will understand (skip) that the purchasers of such copies mentioned in the preface to the Statute are publisher-distributors and booksellers who buy in bulk in order to resell. This is explicitly NOT a reference to the end-consumer buying one copy for personal use.

    This all goes back to your personal inability to understand the difference between the actual text (the intellectual property from which copies are made) and individual copies of the text. They are qualitatively different things.

    The text contains all rights, granted exclusively to the author (by the lovely Queen Anne), whereas a single copy contains by comparison almost no rights. I don’t say that to be mean to the consumer; I say it because it is a simple fact. A simple fact you seem unable or unwilling to grasp.

    As to UDHR, there are no rights in para 1 of Article 27 that are privileged over the rights mentioned in para 2. The two paragraphs are intended to work together, not compete — because the rights discussed are for “everyone”; not for “consumers” and then “artists.”

    Read fully, think deeply.

    Based on our past experience, I’m sure you won’t do either of those things. Nevertheless, anyone interested in REALLY understanding the concepts in this discussion must do both.

  36. Ding Dong …
    John, you are quite versed on the current state of copyright, no doubt. But the debate here centers not around what IS, but what IS TO BE. Copyright and it’s associated privileges were not carved on stone tablets, in fact Bill C-32 has been all about modifying them. Copyright is an agreement based on societies collective needs and principles. Your views represent a portion of that society but certainly not all of it. Your unyielding stance and, as Oldguy pointed out, polarized views need to have a voice but will not necessarily determine the outcome. There is need for polarized views to pin the edges of the curve but it’s from the middle that workable solutions will arise.

    And equally John, get off your high horse, please. You are just as much an ‘expert’ on my views as I am on yours. But then your double standards are what make you so endearing.

  37. Un-Trusted Computing says:

    Geese, Ganders and golden eggs…
    For what its worth Jenny both sides of this debate have valid points… artists want to get paid for their work, and consumers want future proof investments in the face of rapidly changing technology and planned obsolescence.

    As a consumer, and part time artist, I want my investments in both entertainment and technology to last through the multiple cycles of “innovation” I used brackets because I sometimes feel that new gadgets are simply trotted out so that I have to buy my media all over again… or worse get media that’s more restricted than the exact same media I owned ten years ago.

    So… to sum up my opposition to digital locks: When CD players and turntables kick the bucket for good; I shouldn’t have to pay $1000+ dollars to “get back” the music I already legally bought and paid for.

    As an addendum I’d also like to add that digital locks do nothing to deter piracy because pirated media has already by-passed the digital lock process.

    Anyway Jenny that’s my 2 cents… good luck.

  38. Crockett,

    Honestly, I don’t care what you or Darryl or oldguy think or believe about copyright. I simply don’t have the time or interest to care about your “views”, and so I would never presume to try and describe them. That’s not a judgement of you as people, so you can stop being hurt.

    My only interest over here is to point out incorrect statements. There are a lot of them; otherwise, you wouldn’t hear from me as often.

    Believe whatever you want. But when you say something wrong about copyright, and I have a spare moment, I will try to keep the record straight.

    Again, don’t presume to speak for my views or what “portion of society they represent.” Don’t place me on any imaginary bell curves. Just try to write things that are true. After all, any copyright-reform process should begin from a firm understanding of what copyright ACTUALLY is.

  39. That’s right Crockett
    You “free culture” people should not presume to label John by putting him on any bell curve like that. I mean, really!

    Speaking of the Statute of Anne, it sure would be nice to go back to those sane copyright terms if 14 years, don’t you think? And dispense with all this silliness of derived works and moral rights.

  40. Commiserations …
    John, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize us common folk were such an inconvenience for you. Really, it you need not drop by so often or spend all those laborious hours writing on yor blog just to debunk a few inconsequentials in tin foil hats. You could be spending more time with Ms. Atwood or mingle at a gala. Heck, go ice fishing.

    Please don’t take any more time on us for we are obviously having no impact on your world.

  41. I love it when y’all reveal your true colours like that. So much more honest than all this “why can’t we all work together to find common solutions” malarky I have to wade through.

    So, Darryl, as usual, I’m right about about a fact you got so desperately wrong, so you dismiss the discussion and move on to your next wrong point. Read the full Statute of Anne, please. The original term was 28 years (2×14).

    Have fun reading Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig this long religious weekend. In it you’ll find many ideas that I agree with, but please don’t spend any time trying to figure out which those are.

    That’s READING Darryl, not googling.

    And if you aren’t interested in my writings on copyright, by all means stop visiting my blog on a minute by minute basis.


  42. You want honesty John?
    John, I tried for the last year to politely dialog with you and in return you just dish out disrespect and ridicule what you don’t agree with. Check out your response above, just after I had suggested that we work at mutual understanding. I had hoped to engage meaningfully on these important issues, but I finally had to concede that for you it was a lost cause.

    I’ve heard you lament at the treatment you receive in public forums. Do you ever pause to wonder why people deride you so much when you step out of your gilded bubble? I’ll help you paint a picture … It’s the sanctimonious posture of infallibility. In the past three years I have NEVER seen you concede a point to anyone or even to consider another viewpoint.

    Now go ahead and tell us … ‘You simply don’t have the time or interest to care about our “views”.

    Seriously John, if you just stopped to listen to yourself you could write a book on ‘How NOT to win friends or influence people’. Now you may not care about friends but I know you want to be influential.

    For the last year I have tried to get you to understand that it’s this attitude of entitlement that is the bane of your ‘industry’ and the main reason for the compromised position you find yourselves in. It may just be a natural genetic attribute of the far right brained, but hey take a cue from Harper … put on a cardigan, pick up a puppy and try to adjust.

  43. Ah, that felt good, thanks John …
    It is good to cleanse one’s soul before the holy week, quite cathartic. I hope you’ll accept that corrective criticism in the positive manner it was intended, and have a Happy Hippty Hop Easter.

    @Degen “but I need to repeat that there are no automatic, unpriced “back-up” privileges for any other product in the world. Name one.”

    Tupperware. Craftsman … If it ceases to function in the course of normal use it is replaced.

    Media is inherently fragile, more so than most other products. Records were easily scratched, CD’s even more so. Digital media is prone to viruses, DRM servers going down or out of business. If media was more robust or easily replaced when it became nonfunctional then there would be no need for backups. This is rarely the case though. So in view of the failure to provide a reliable form factor, there is an expectation of a backup right.

    The only reason to not offer this is the hope sell the same product to the customer more than once. A lucrative position for the seller but one that is understandably unappreciated by the purchaser.

    Note this is backups I am talking about, not making multiple copies or shifting which is another more complex issue.

  44. Whoops
    Wrong auto-fill blogging from my iTouch.

    Dave = Crockett

    Yes, David Crockett .. cue the jokes.

  45. 1948 to today
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 1948

    Article 1

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
    Article 27

    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

    (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.


    1948. The community has evolved to a world wide stage. There are a few other things different than the world was then too. I suspect it would be written differently, if done so with today’s world in mind.
    The other extreme of the bell curve of opinions focuses on their interpretation of the 1st clause of Article 27, you tend to focus on your interpretation of the 2nd clause.
    It seems a lot of people are ignoring Article 1, which still applies today, exactly as written in 1948. And many others as well. Perhaps there is a reason the Articles are ordered the way they are.

    Absolute terms. I didn’t use that phrase lightly. It applies equally to you, and to the extreme on the other side of the bell curve of opinions. And both sides have quoted Article 27 as justification for their position. Nitpicking words on a page instead of recognizing the spirit.

    The largest part of the bell of opinions doesn’t subscribe to either extreme position. They are trying to map the spirit of those words into the reality of our modern and rapidly changing world. Malleable. Messy.

    It would be nice if my impression of you included as strong an adherence to Article 1 as you do to the 2nd clause of Article 27.

    I note that you have resorted to listing your qualifications as some kind justification that your opinion has more weight than others here and elsewhere. Yet you continually ignore any and all attempts by equally qualified people that have explained to you why DRM a) will never accomplish it’s stated purpose, and b) has unwanted ramifications well beyond simply protecting “creators rights”. Why should “we” recognize your qualifications if you refuse to recognize ours?

  46. Gosh, you folks are taking all this very personally, aren’t you?

    I mean, you don’t seem to mind being proven wrong again and again (and again), but for some reason you get really angry when someone doesn’t care what you think? I’m having a hard time understanding the psychology.

    So, in the spirit of Easter:

    I don’t care about the motivations for and details of your views or philosophy because they are shared with me in the context of the active and aggressive removal of my rights. I don’t know (and don’t care) what you hear in your own head when you talk about this stuff, because what I hear is this:

    “Hey Degen, we’re just going to go ahead and keep campaigning to have your rights removed, officially, under the law, using all this incorrect information and weak theory Michael Geist has provided for us. We are going to disregard all your corrections to our misinformation — as a matter of fact, when you make a correction we are going to accuse you of being a corporate puppet, suggest you just don’t understand our “views” and then call you names like shill and troll.

    But you know what would be great… how ’bout we just all keep dialoguing so that we can come to a common understanding of just how exactly we are going to steal your rights from underneath you while calling you stupid and greedy. Would you like to do that, Degen? Would you like to dialogue with us? No? You nasty corporate troll! Why you wanna go and hurt our feelings by not wanting to dialogue? Your attitude is why we want to take your rights from you in the first place.”

    oldguy – maybe (doubtful, but maybe), now you can understand that I very much respect all the articles in the UDHR — ALL of them (no matter when they were written or how much the “world has changed” since then (really?, you are going to apply moral relativism to human rights?). Apply the spirit of brotherhood to how this blog regularly and relentlessly campaigns to remove the established and universally recognized rights of “everyone… to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”

    Take your bell curve and ‘hide it’ with the rest of your Easter eggs, brother.

  47. My longer reply is being “reviewed by admin,” as per usual.

    But one quick question to oldguy — what is it about “The United Nations” that doesn’t suggest a worldwide stage to you?

  48. Wrong = not agreeing with John?
    John, it is certainly true that I do not have your years of experience in the world of copyright you have occupied for so long. I do though have something that you don’t, a different perspective. It is those same years that I think has conditioned you to maintain what you know.

    In the above post I talk about backup rights, now I understand that there is no such thing at this time but I also think there should be. The position I lay out above is not unreasonable and I have separated it out from the multiple copy/shifting issue. Is that opinion wrong or just different? It may not be what IS but it is a valid what could be.

    Does this suggestion constitute an ‘aggressive removal of your rights’? Minus the hyperbole, yes it could be a modification of your rights as much as it is a modification of mine. But in the spirit of the United Nations you seem to support, there is always a role for negotiation and compromise.

    The world is a fluid place John, things change, shift, grow. I can understand your desire to have things not change for you and the positions you hold, but ideas that differ from yours are just that.

    Now as to your response to Oldguy, that was wonderful. The use of the word maybe is a great first step for you John, keep it up.

    And Happy Easter!

  49. Crockett,

    Tupperware and Craftsman offer warranties, which are marketplace strategies they have decided upon. Warranties are not automatic rights. And what would be “normal use” about trying to play an mp3 player under water, or dragging a CD through gravel?

    PLEASE, don’t call an orange an “apple” and expect everyone to just accept your new version of the truth.

  50. John, you must be the most careful man on the planet if the only damaged media you own are ones that you store in the bottom of your fish tank.

    As for the ‘truth’ you seem to have gleaned from my example, it was less that than a opinion of what things should be. Black and white are not really colors John.

    Speaking to your point on marketing … it is because of marketing failure on the part of the content industry that we find so much endemic infringement. If there were more reasonable offerings in such strategies, there would undoubtedly be less infringement and calls for changes to the legislative structure that enables them.

    Again, this is only an opinion, not a truth John, so don’t get too rumpled.

  51. @Degen
    Again you focus on the 2nd clause of Article 27 while ignoring the 1st clause. The other extreme focuses on their interpretation of the 1st clause, while ignoring the 2nd. Don’t you find both extremes basing their positions on an interpretation of the same Article, a little incongruous? How do you reconcile those interpretations? Or do you even try? Do you attempt to apply Article 1 to the apparent contradictions in interpretations?

    Interpretations, in absolute terms. Just as you won’t be convinced that there is any validity in their interpretations, they won’t be convinced that there is any validity in yours. Unbending stalemate.
    From the principles and spirit embodied in that article, *all* of it, we have to develop practical, and workable, and fair, laws. Malleable and messy. Laws that take into consideration the practical differences of our changing world. The place where details matter.

    As a society, we have to consider the practical results of both extreme interpretations. There happens to be merit, for all of society, from the results of both sides. For most of society, the ones between the extremes, this isn’t a “win or lose” question, or a question of “right or wrong”, it’s a question of what works best for the majority of society. The details matter. That might offend your morale center while at the same time removing privileges you have held in the past. But in realistic terms, society cannot accommodate the practical results of both extreme interpretations.

    To answer your question, it is the word “community” as used in Article 27. The concepts embodied by that term are quite different today, than they were in 1948. The word is the same, but the concepts evoked by that word are quite different. Is it possible you don’t remember what the world was like in 1948?

  52. ByteMaster says:

    Why make things so complicated?
    People here are making things way too complicated.

    Let’s assume for discussions sake that I have the legal right to create a copy an object “O”. The company “C” that sells object “O” is aware of this legal right but would rather sell me an identical “O”. In order to further this, the company makes it techically difficult to for me copy this object.

    Making it difficult to copy currently does not diminish my legal right, which we assumed to exist in this case, to copy this in any way. It’s just more difficult.

    What’s at stake here is that my blanket right to copy is going to be eroded by some company “C” – a commercial entity that is going to decide whether I am allowed to make a copy, no longer the lawmaker.

    EITHER you are allowed to copy something (where the something and the circumstances will also be described in the law), OR you are not (at least for a limited time). The discussion with ‘digital locks’ is a simple one: trying to sneakily revoke a legal right via the back door.

  53. My own stab at trying to simplify this – part one
    The right to restrict all other humans from copying your song, story or drawing is not a right that naturally belongs to someone just because they made up a song, story or drawing. Rather it is an agreement that our society had once made, only because it would promote creativity. It is an agreement that no longer strikes the same “balance” that it once did.

    There are many things to which copyright does not apply such as fashion and fragrances, recipes or news among many others. And they differ from country to country. Some countries have no copyright at all. So copyrestriction is not really a right, it is more like a priveledge, because it imposes an obligation and a hardship on everyone else. It is not an inalienable, clearcut, moral right but rather, it actually could be abolished. It would be the repealing of an outdated priveledge.

    In fact, this priveledge is no longer required to encourage creativity. Also, it now very often impedes creativity. And better ways of encouraging creativity have emerged. But more than this, copyrestriction imposes a much greater obligation on all of us than was imagined when it was first enacted. The technological and legislative restrictions that are being proposed in order to bring copyright into this modern technological environment are devastating in a number of ways.

    If we give digital locks the power of these new laws, it will cement the existing media monopolies in place, just at a time that a true media democracy has begun to emerge. Digital locks on music, for example, cannot work if they are available for any garage band to apply to their own recordings. The software that encrypts it must remain hidden by the recording industry association that records it, and then by the manufacturers of the players that play it. Otherwise the same software could be used, by anyone with a garage band, to UN-encrypt, to unlock anybody else’s music, too. The same holds for books, and Amazon has used its power to censor certain ideas, a power that could easily become absolute.

    Similarly, if we require anyone who hosts information on the Internet to respond to any take-down notice, without judicial oversight, as these laws do, then we cannot also give the power to issue take-down notices to just any pimply-faced kid with a garage band. Large hosts will begin to provide special access to the established recording industry, for them to submit their take-down notices, many already have, and then they will start to ignore take-down requests from anyone else. So publishing online becomes a priveledge which is protected only for those large corporations with their own legal teams. This sets a precedence, harmless enough with music perhaps, but devastating as we move to more serious industries.

  54. My own stab at trying to simplify this – part two
    We, as a society, are arriving at an acceptance of state surveillance. The iphone logs your every move, and we just shrug and say, “I have nothing to hide”. But we all need to be able to contribute to political discussions without being afraid that we might offend our boss or one of our clients. We will all need, at some point in our lives, to research some controversial subject, to seek help with some embarrassing problem, perhaps seek therapy or join a dating service.

    And young people should be able to connect with their friends pseudonymously, experiment with values that they’ll later reject, and not have to fear that they’ll be haunted forever. Right now we are anonymous by default. Most of us do not believe that we are being monitored. Anonymity is enshrined in our constitution, and preached by our privacy commissioner. But we are moving quickly toward a techno-legal world where anonymity is shunned, impractical, and then, one day, impossible.

    It is also about politicians who will be able to know who you’ve been talking to, and then exclude you from their events. It’s about not being able to get a government job because you browsed Wikileaks. Copyright is the dictator’s “gateway drug”. Next comes bandwidth caps that ensure that television won’t be replaced with the Internet, then comes “trusted computing”, cell phones that track you, ISP’s that log your activity. But copyright is where it all starts, it’s the first prohibition on information which will really affect people. Simply put, there should be NO prohibition on information. Information can only be good and should not be prohibited in any case.

    Thus, the price of technological progress and of freedom that everyone has to pay, in order to ensure that Metallica gets paid for every copy of their album, is now far too high of a price to pay. Nor is it necessary in any way. We have had an anonymous internet and peer to peer capabilities for over a decade and music production is still going up, movies are still being made, stories are being written. In fact there is a new incentive to create. It is now possible, without concern for cost, to publish to the whole world. That’s a new incentive which may explain why creativity continues to increase even though anyone can expect that people will “steal” their creations.

  55. Queen Anne
    @Degen: not the old saw about Queen Anne. The first copyright laws were made by the Catholic Church shortly after the invention of the printing press in 1453. They proscribed using a printing press to print books with punishments up to the death penalty. It was largely about control and censorship and putting scriptorium monks out of work.

  56. The Statute of Anne wasn’t even the first copyright law in England. Seeing how even the death penalty hadn’t worked for the Pope, Queen Mary I needed an ally within the printing industry. She awarded a printing monopoly to London’s printing guild, the London Company of Stationers, in return for being able to censor anything before publication. The monopoly was awarded on May 4, 1557. It was called copyright. Authors had nothing to do with it. They had few rights under the statute of Anne either. Only registered printers could print works.

  57. I didn’t drag poor old Anne into this. I was simply responding to the standard SofA references designed to prove that artists should rise up from the contraints of corporate capitalism… or something.