Last year, a Quebec court upheld the largest spam damage award in the world, ordering Adam Guerbuez, a Montreal-based email marketer, to pay Facebook $873 million dollars for sending millions of spam messages to users of the popular social network. Two months later, the Conservative government passed long overdue anti-spam legislation that finally established strict rules for electronic marketing and safeguards against the installation of unwanted software programs on personal computers, all backed by tough multi-million dollar penalties.
Then-Industry Minister Tony Clement promised that the law would “protect Canadian businesses and consumers from harmful and misleading online threats,” but nearly a year later, my op-ed in the Hill Times (homepage version) notes the law is in limbo, the victim of an intense behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign that threatens to water-down the legislation such that Guerbuez, who maintains an active online presence, has publicly thanked the lobby groups for helping to keep him in business.
The spring election delayed the introduction of draft regulations for the anti-spam legislation, but since they were posted in early summer, lobby groups have used the process as an invitation to re-open the legislation and delay any implementation for months or even years.
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This week’s group of daily digital lock dissenters focuses on the book and writing world with organizations representing writers, publishers, and book sellers (the Canadian Bookseller Association
was featured earlier). The Literary Press Group of Canada is a national organization representing those Canadian publishers who specialize in works of literary fiction, drama, poetry, belles lettres, and the fine arts. It 63 members, located in ten provinces, varying in scale from small, part-time operations to mid-sized firms that are commercially competitive in the global marketplace. As part of the 2009 copyright consultation, it said the following
about digital locks:
We believe that copyright law should prohibit the circumvention of TPMs to a degree that would satisfy the World Intellectual Property Organization copyright treaties, but that would also provide for fair dealing, retail competition, security research, the protection of personal information, and accessibility for the disabled. Penalties for circumventing TPMs must apply only to cases of actual infringement. There is no merit in penalizing individuals who circumvent TPMs but do not distribute the unlocked materials or otherwise infringe on copyright in a fair-dealing context. The use of proprietary TPMs tied to reader or player devices must not be allowed to create an uncompetitive retail environment, or a retail environment in which Canadian content is only minimally visible or available to Canadian consumers.
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Appeared in the Hill Times on November 28, 2011 as Will Paradis Fail to Can Canadian Spam? Last year, a Quebec court upheld the largest spam damage award in the world, ordering Adam Guerbuez, a Montreal-based email marketer, to pay Facebook $873 million dollars for sending millions of spam messages […]
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One of the most frequently cited concerns with Bill C-11’s digital lock rules is that they create a two-tier legal framework that is technologically non-neutral. Where content does not have a lock or is in non-digital form, the usual copyright balance applies including fair dealing and consumer exceptions. However, with Bill C-11, once there is a digital lock included with the content, the balance disappears since the fair dealing and consumer exceptions can be overriden. A description of the situation:
The Bill also favours digital lock business models for the sale and delivery of content over unlocked means of dissemination. In the traditional model, copyright holders control the exclusive right to reproduce content onto CDs or DVDs. Once an unlocked copy is created, rights holders cannot control the application of copyright exceptions such as fair dealing. But the Bill creates a different situation simply because a copy of digital content is delivered with a digital lock. This is an economically inefficient interpretation of an Act that is meant to fairly balance the interests of rights holders and users to further the interests of society as a whole.
While consumer groups have been making this case against technological non-neutral copyright for months (and Charlie Angus raised precisely this point in the House of Commons yesterday expressing concern about a “two-tier set of rights”), the above quote is a slightly modified version of arguments by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, one of the lead proponents of the digital lock rules.
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The Canadian Association for Open Source promotes the use and development of free, open source software, by providing a public voice to the community of its Canadian users, developers and supporters. The Association submitted comments
to the 2009 national copyright consultation that included the following on digital locks:
The key policy for software authors is “technological measures”, given this policy is about what software the owners of computers are and are not allowed to install and use on their own hardware. The Liberal Bill C-60 recognized the nuances of the 1996 WIPO treaties and tied anti-circumvention legislation to activities that would otherwise infringe coyright. The WIPO treaties use language such as:
Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their rights under this Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts, in respect of their works, which are not authorized by the authors concerned or permitted by law.
Being “used by authors in connection with” and “or permitted by law” suggests that anti-circumvention legislation should be tied to infringing activities. Copyright and other laws (including privacy law) should trump technological measures when there is a conflict, not the other way around. By clarifying that the anti-circumvention legislation is tied to copyright, the legislation could also avoid providing any protection for technical measures applied to devices by other than their owners.
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