News

Copyright Debate Hits the House of Commons: Opposition Won’t Support C-11 Due to Digital Locks

The Green Party’s Elizabeth May added during the debate:

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has told us he is open to change. I am certainly very concerned with the concerns of the Canadian Library Association that digital locks will impede its ability to use materials in the public interest.

Over the course of several hours, many MPs raised concerns about digital locks, U.S. influence on the copyright reform process, and the reality that the Canadian digital lock approach extends far beyond what is required by the WIPO Internet treaties.

The discussion also featured some noteworthy comments from Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, who admitted:

Bill C-61, as it turned out, was not the balance that Canadians were looking for. We think this legislation achieves the balance that Canadians have come to expect. We tabled Bill C-61, there was the fall campaign, and then we came back. We re-engaged Canadians from the beginning. We went back to square one. We did unprecedented consultation on this legislation. We heard from thousands of Canadians in the process. We went across the country to town halls and we did open, online consultation. We arrived at Bill C-32.

It is good that Moore acknowledges the opposition to Bill C-61, yet what Moore did not say was that the primary concern then – as now – was on the digital lock rules. Those have remained unchanged from Bill C-61, so the government may have heard from Canadians on the issue, but it did not listen. Industry Minister Christian Paradis offered the standard lines on copyright reform, but had a pair of puzzling comments. For example, Paradis stated:

Many products such as DVDs do not have digital locks and the market is doing its job in that respect

I’m not sure what Paradis is thinking of, but DVDs – which typically contain both region coding and anti-copying locks – still have digital locks.  Further, Paradis later stated:

The current legislation deals with VHS and other technologies that are no longer even on the market or being used by consumers

This too is inaccurate. The current legislation does not deal with the VHS or other forms of television program recording.

45 Comments

  1. …So the industry minister doesn’t even know what this bill will affect? That seems like a good idea, let’s pass a law that I have no idea what is really does despite being told about that. If it’s obvious that they were not listening, it’s even more so now.

  2. Joe Harison says:

    I think that Elizabeth May is right and that she is a very wise and always caring person!

  3. Andrew Butash says:

    Okay, say what you will about Tony Clement (he did just jump ship to a cushy lobbying position with Bell right after the election…) but at least he had a fucking clue what he was talking about when it came to issues of technology. This is just a joke. Moore is just completely ignoring the issue, which is disappointing but not really surprising. He surely knows exactly what the problem is. Paradis is just coming off as a complete idiot who has no idea what he’s talking about. I’d say this just confirms that Moore was always the one spearheading this entire bill and the Minister of Industry, whoever he was at the time, had very little input.

  4. @Andrew, the Hon. Clement is currently head of the Treasury Board. He’s still a Minister for the current federal government.

  5. DVDs don’t have digital locks?

    Facepalm…

  6. It has been evident to me for some time that the conservatives appear to feel that scaling back the TPM provisions in this bill to the point that actual copyright infringement must occur in order for circumvention of a TPM to be illegal is somehow equivalent to removing all legal protections for TPM’s.

    I believe that compromise is possible… it’s most unfortunate that our government doesn’t seem to be able to reach that point.

  7. Digital Locks
    Any way to have C-11 pass as is then pass a new bill making it illegal to use digital locks where it would restrict access for personal use? Then we can trump the trump card. ;)

  8. @Michael
    “Any way to have C-11 pass as is then pass a new bill making it illegal to use digital locks where it would restrict access for personal use? Then we can trump the trump card. ;)”

    They do something similar to this is Brazil, I believe. Both sides are held accountable for their actions if they try to tip the balance too far in their favor.

  9. I suspect the bill will pass as inked. The only way to deal with this after the fact is to launch a appeal to the supreme court as this has already been suggested to contravene the charter of rights.

    So, I will now put on my conspiracy hat and postulate that the conservatives know this full well and will be able to say to the Americans that they passed the law as ‘requested’ but cannot control the courts.

    Lets just hope they don’t ask them to put us back on the special 301 list again to ‘embarrass’ the court ;)

  10. It’s incredulous that we could pass a law that turns kids into criminals and one of the sponsoring ministers clearly doesn’t understand what he’s passing.

  11. Some Random Dude says:

    No Surprises here
    …as the minister supporting this bill a) have no clue and b) are only parroting what they have been told to say.

    Note that I did not say who is telling them what to say.

    This government has ceased to represent the people long ago and Canadians are stupid enough to elect them.

  12. Now it makes perfect sense
    In Ottawa the school board has told its libraries to get rid of most of its books. Why? So they can go digital. If you cannot break the digital box then imagine the money you will make as a digital provider of books. Now it is beginning to make sense. The usual, “follow the money” is at play.
    Thanks Herr Harper!
    Will someone out there please stand up for Canadians?
    Now, I wonder how this will apply to defense contracts. Will there be an exemption?

  13. Abuse
    What happens when industry stops producing content domestically in favor of importing, colluding and exploiting digital locks. There is nothing in the legislation to prevent them from doing that. We all know how well the regulatory body responds to collusion of the telecom crowd (rubber stamp).

    This will produce the next big racket in Canada. Why discount without locks…when you can discount with locks and sue the bastard later?

    Finally and most importantly, why is this legislation not being enacted with a sunset clause. Isn’t the problem with legislation over this type of area the fact that technology moves so much faster than legislation. Put a sunset clause on it and force it to be reviewed again in 10 years. That just seems….intelligent…

  14. “DVD’s don’t have digital locks”
    No! Digital locks are a chain or cable joined at the ends with a series of revolving disks to enter the digital key!

  15. DVD
    99%+ of commercially manufactured DVDs use CSS (Content Scramble System), many apply region coding and some even use MacroVision or some other form of copy protection on top of that. In any case all 3 are classic digital locks and you need a key to open. They just happen to be a keys that are current available to EVERYONE and have been for more than a decade. They’re basically making it illegal to have a copy of those keys without paying, which will affect Linux, VLC, along with other software and so so many smaller electronics manufacturers.

  16. Maybe someone should show him a DVD case and point out the “this DVD is copy protected” message.

  17. Let’s summarize..
    So, these groups have all publicly stated that they are against the overarching digital locks rules…how can Moore even keep a straight face when he says this is balanced…he’s like a horse with blinders on.

    The Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired
    Canadian Consumer Initiative
    Retail Council of Canada
    Canadian Council of Archives
    Canadian Teachers’ Federation
    Canadian Federation of Students
    Canadian Civil Liberties Association
    Documentary Organization of Canada
    Canadian Library Association
    Council of Ministers of Education Canada
    Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright
    Canadian Association of Research Libraries
    ALL opposition parties
    Even the music copyright collective CMRRA and SODRAC says it will be ineffective in increasing revenue and admit that on-line music sales have been growing faster in Canada than in the US…where WIPO has been implemented.

    So what’s the conclusion? Personally, I think someone in the government took a bribe and is going to collect a lot of money once this is passed, and I have no doubt it will pass as-is…then we’ll spend years in court trying to get it amended so that it’s “actually” balanced. The previously released wires show that numerous members of our government have colluded with US interests to influence and undermine our legislation. Those individuals should all be brought up on charges and thrown in jail.

  18. …even better…
    Even better, revoke their Canadian citizenship and force them to leave the country. Can we legally exile someone these days? If they love the US so much, let them live there.

  19. re. Paradis – I’m speechless
    He obviously doesn’t have clue what he’s talking about. Doesn’t his staff at least brief him on the subject so he doesn’t present himself to millions of Canadians as clueless?

    How embarrassing for him.

    Good material for the Opposition though :)

  20. Elizabeth May/Greens?
    “with the concerns of the Canadian Library Association that digital locks will impede its ability to use materials in the public interest.”

    It’s nice that Elizabeth May brings up the concerns of the libraries, but is she forgetting the people who voted for her? The public’s interests (needs of the many) should be number one and when those are taken care of satisfactorily, special interest groups should be considered if their needs differ.

    And what about her (party’s) support for a 12 year copyright term discussed here?
    http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/4106/125/

    Does Big Content get at you THAT fast?

  21. In all fairness, although DVD’s do contain digital locks, the type of locking utilized is largely ubiquitous… so tools used to bypass it would still likely be legally available even under a C-11 regime, because there could also be publishers that utilize those locks, but expressly grant permission to decrypt the content for personal use.

    In order for publishers who want to encrypt their content and not be decryptable by tools that may be perfectly legal to use because they can also decrypt content that *IS* legally decryptable, each manufacturer will likely have to invest in their own unique encryption mechanism, otherwise a single publisher who says it’s okay to decrypt their stuff for personal use ends up making the point of the laws prohibiting circumvention completely moot.

  22. @Mark
    “so tools used to bypass it would still likely be legally available even under a C-11 regime, because there could also be publishers that utilize those locks, but expressly grant permission to decrypt the content for personal use”

    The use of “likely” will mean that you won’t see DVD-X-Copy and tools like that at Staples, Wal-Mart or Best Buy/Futureshop as they don’t want to risk litigation. It will need to be explicitly allowed so there can not be any question as to its intended use. As well, once the lock is in place it will be illegal to circumvent it, even in non-infringing circumstances, so the publisher can’t just say “it’s ok”; it will have to provide you with a copy without the lock. Note that some game software publishers have done exactly that: provided an update patch that removed DRM. It’d be an interesting question for Dr. Geist to answer if that would technically be legal in Canada when/if C-11 is implemented “as is” and under “letter of the law” conditions.

  23. @Byte: No… for smaller content makers that cannot afford to invest in their own unique locking scheme, there is absolutely no reason they could not choose to utilize a ubiquitous form of locking. There is also absolutely no reason that they could not grant permission to decrypt THEIR OWN content under certain circumstances (personal backups, etc). If a larger content maker happens to also be utilizing the exact same locking scheme which did not grant such permissions, then the fact that this could happen would be problematic. The end result is that every company will have to end up utilizing its own locking scheme, and there will *BE* no ubiquitous locking mechanisms, because companies that don’t want to permit decryption cannot effectively prohibit it if they are using widely-known standards that are not illegal for others to utilize. This lack of standards will impede technological progress, create absolutely insane levels of hardware and software compatibility, and probably make Canada technologically irrelevant on a global scale outside of the black-market sector within less than 10 years.

  24. Dev
    Just wanted to say thank you Michael Geist for your continued efforts in exposing this sort of draconian nonsense. Without people like you we wouldn’t even know about this. So thank you for the hard work you do.

    Also, this bill is ridiculous.

  25. D’oh! I reread what I wrote above… I meant insane levels of hardware and software *IN*compatibility.

    Not sure if my intent was clear… but hopefully my meaning is understood now.

    What I don’t understand is why it matters that the opposition won’t support this bill when the conservatives have a majority in parliament. Couldn’t they pass the bill even if the other parties unanimously disagreed?

  26. DVD X-Copy
    “The use of “likely” will mean that you won’t see DVD-X-Copy and tools like that at Staples, Wal-Mart or Best Buy/Futureshop as they don’t want to risk litigation.”

    The point is moot though. One will still easily be able to buy such software on-line or select from one of several free options…such as DVD Decrypter or Handbrake. As much as big companies, like Macrovision, might try, these won’t suddenly disappear from the Internet and they’re not universally illegal in the entire world…in fact, they’re generally legal in most of the world including the US, where only the distribution of such software is illegal.

  27. IanMe: If somebody wishes to utilize an encryption scheme that DVD-X-Copy can handle, and wishes to give permission for people to use it, the fact that other people may be utilizing the same encryption system and can be defeated by the availability of the tool is the other publishers’ problem, not the one who wants to permit decryption of their own work.

    One might question the legality of the former company granting any decryption permission under C11, but why should one company that uses a particular encryption mechanism that they do not own or control be able to dictate whether or not another company (who might also wish to use that exact same mechanism) may grant permission to decrypt *THEIR OWN* works? To suggest so means that larger companies would effectively control copyrights on works that they actually do *NOT* have any lawfully recognized copyright control over.

    To avoid this, obviously, publishers who don’t want other people to be able to decrypt their works will have to invest in unique encryption mechanisms. Of course, the end result is utterly standardless, where interoperability is non-existent.

    That is the future that the conservatives are paving the way for in Canada.

    Fun, huh?

  28. Cryptography
    “To avoid this, obviously, publishers who don’t want other people to be able to decrypt their works will have to invest in unique encryption mechanisms.”

    Makes me wish my background with in cryptography software. It could become a very lucrative business in the coming years. So enough we’re going to have to carry around RSS key-fobs to access everything. Enter the correct key or your device/content won’t work…and you’ll have to enter the key every time you want to use it. This would have sounded laughable just a few short years ago, but now I don’t think it sounds too far fetched given the circumstances.


  29. I’m looking forward to TPM protected viruses that would be illegal to remove. Muhahahaha.

  30. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Turning Kids Into Criminals…or Filling Our About to be New Prison Business?
    Simon Says: It’s incredulous that we could pass a law that turns kids into criminals and one of the sponsoring ministers clearly doesn’t understand what he’s passing.

    The “Reeeeformed Regressive” Conservatives have that one in the bag too, with their omnibus crime bill…more kids treated like adults in their new ‘Merican-Like prison system…at what point do we start calling Steve, Governor Harper of the 51st State… or Rick or Mitt?

    Is part of filling their new prison system the abandonment of the Long Gun Registry too? Gotta encourage Crime…Fill Cells as opposed to Fuel Cells…protect the Ethanol Farmers out west…

    Not only is the financial disparity widening in Canada between the 1 Percent and the 99 percent faster than in the USA, so it appears is the Intelligence Quotient…if you want to see where we are going watch the next Republican Debate…

    The USA has more people incarcerated (in jail for our Conservative readers) per capita (I don’t know how to explain that to a Conservative) and our current Federal Government is Hell Bent to be Number 1?


  31. “I’m looking forward to TPM protected viruses that would be illegal to remove. Muhahahaha.”

    What was that about the Sony root-kit?

  32. Napalm: That won’t happen. For one thing, the bill contains explicit exemptions pertaining to correcting security flaws or assessing security vulnerabilities (section 30.63 exempts copyright infringement, and 41.11 exempts the prohibition against circumvention). For another, viruses can’t enjoy any TPM protection anyways, because the TPM protection of C-11 only applies to works that have a lawfully recognized copyright. Since it is unlawful to compromise another person’s computer system (without their consent), such software would not have a lawfully recognized copyright, and the prohibitions against circumvention in C-11 only apply to works whose copyright is lawful.

    One might artificially contrive a hypothetical case wherein a work outwardly appears to be lawfully copyrighted, but is actually not, and utilizes the TPM protections to prevent being identified as an unlawful work in the first place, but this is a wholly unlikely situation that would probably be best handled on a case-by-case basis if the need actually ever arise. Given that judges are given the liberty, after all, to interpret the intent of the law, it’s my own personal belief that (especially with all of the other problems that C-11 has) this sort of thing would not become even slightly problematic.


  33. @Mark:

    1. Software is copyrightable. Ask BSA.

    2. “Since it is unlawful to compromise another person’s computer system (without their consent),” Can you name the law(s) that Sony was breaking when installing their rootkit?

    And think about malware in general. Some “utility” like a “browser search bar”. Of course it might have an “uninstall” button. Or not.

  34. Yes, of course I know that software is copyrightable.

    Virus software, however, is not eligible for a lawfully recognizable copyright in Canada because it violates computer crime laws.

    Current computer crime laws are not robust enough to make what Sony did with their rootkit an actual violation of law, although one could make a fair case that it should have been. The software itself, however, definitely compromised peoples’ home computer security without their authorization, and so would be considered to have be in violation of the intent of Canadian computer crime law, at the very least (since the law does prohibit utilizing a computer or its resources without authorization).


  35. @Mark:

    So how comes we are passing a law about TPMs without having first a robust computer crime law in place?

  36. Well, I’m no fan of this TPM legislation by any means, but be assured that your aforementioned situation of a company creating potentially malicious software that is illegal for anyone to remove cannot actually occur under C-11… there are sections in the bill that make that much quite clear.


  37. @Mark:

    Let me sum it up: we don’t have proper computer crime or privacy / personal information protection laws in place, yet we rush to pass TPM laws first.

    Sounds risky to me.

  38. Consumer protection
    Earlier Michael (Oct. 20) suggested laws be put it place that would outlaw DRM protection where this would prevent legal use of content; this is one of the items that the Green Party in European Parliament is in favour of. This is the same document where they suggest a commercial copyright of 20 years. I’ve e-mailed the Green Party of Canada to see if they would be able to live with 20 instead of 12 years, we might see some trans-atlantic cooperation on this issue if successful.


  39. @Byte: “Earlier Michael (Oct. 20) suggested laws be put it place that would outlaw DRM protection where this would prevent legal use of content”

    Makes a lot of sense. Without such rule you open the “consumer” to a lot of abuse.

  40. Just to avoid possible confusion, I was referring to the poster “Michael” above, not to Dr. Geist.

  41. resurrection or zombie?
    “the NDP’s Charlie Angus stated…”
    from the grave?

  42. Connor Behan says:

    I’m glad people are picking up on the lie that DVDs do not contain digital locks. I am sure that telling a blatant lie to get a bill passed is illegal. And if he didn’t know about CSS, he is not informed enough to be writing this kind of legislation.

  43. You seem to forget several issues
    You seem to forget several issues:

    1) The PC have a majority. They don’t care about the opposition, about the citizens, about their constituents, about the country… They will pass whatever laws they damn please, thanks to you.

    2) Even after screwing you over six ways from Sunday, they will still win the next election.