Post Tagged with: "anti-circumvention"

New Zealand’s Digital Copyright Law Demonstrates Anti-Circumvention Flexibility

New Zealand passed its digital copyright law this week, drawing the ire of the technology community and the blogosphere.  While the bill isn't great, many of the provisions are far better than what Industry Minister Jim Prentice may have in mind for Canada including format and time shifting provisions as well as anti-circumvention provisions that are more flexible than those found in the DMCA.  In fact, the anti-circumvention provisions are arguably the best of any country, since they are compliant with WIPO, limited in scope, and seek to preserve fair dealing rights.

On the anti-circumvention front, there are several things to note:

  • the technological protection measures (TPMs) expressly exclude access controls such as region coding.  In other words, the anti-circumvention provisions do not apply to devices that "only controls access to a work for non-infringing purposes."
  • the legislation targets anti-circumvention devices, but excludes those devices that have something more than "limited commercially significant applications" other than circumventing a TPM.
  • the law prohibits making, selling, distributing, advertising, or offering a circumvention device if the person "knows or has reason to believe that it will, or is likely to, be used to infringe copyright."  The inclusion of a knowledge requirement creates an additional safeguard against overbroad application of the provision.
  • most importantly, the law clearly permits circumvention for "permitted acts", which effectively preserves fair dealing rights (the statute also specifies the right to circumvent for encryption research).  More impressive, the law includes a system to facilitate circumvention for permitted acts in the event that users are unable to circumvent a TPM themselves.  In such cases, the law allows a "qualified person", which includes librarians, archivists, and educational institutions, to circumvent a TPM on behalf of a user (the user can also ask the copyright owner to unlock the work for them).

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April 10, 2008 16 comments News
Copyright Choices and Voices

Copyright Choices and Voices

Last week, I delivered an hour-long speech on copyright to the Canadian Federation of Students (the slides are here and posted below and a podcast is here).  Since the audio on the podcast version of the talk is poor, I want to reiterate my central message.  In the past, I have spoken frequently about the opportunity for Canada to make its own choices on copyright reform.  After highlighting the remarkable array of new developments for content creation, content sharing, and knowledge sharing, I have emphasized the need for copyright laws that look ahead, rather than behind.  In particular, I have pointed to the dangers associated with anti-circumvention legislation, to the need for more flexible fair dealing, to the desirability of eliminating crown copyright, and to the benefits of open access and open licensing.  I typically conclude by stating that this can be Canada's choice and that we must choose wisely.

This speech had a different conclusion, however.  Sometime over the next two or three weeks, Industry Minister Jim Prentice will rise in the House of Commons and introduce copyright reform legislation.  We can no longer speak of choices because those choices have already been made.  There is every indication (see the Globe's latest coverage) this legislation will be a complete sell-out to U.S. government and lobbyist demands.  The industry may be abandoning DRM, the evidence may show a correlation between file sharing and music purchasing, Statistics Canada may say that music industry profits are doing fine, Canadian musicians, filmmakers, and artists may warn against this copyright approach, and the reality may be that Canadian copyright law is stronger in some areas than U.S. law, yet none of that seems to matter.  In the current environment and with the current Ministers, politics trumps policy

The new Canadian legislation will likely mirror the DMCA with strong anti-circumvention legislation – far beyond what is needed to comply with the WIPO Internet treaties – and address none of the issues that concern millions of Canadians.  The Conservatives promise to eliminate the private copying levy will likely be abandoned.  There will be no flexible fair dealing.  No parody exception. No time shifting exception.  No device shifting exception.  No expanded backup provision. Nothing. 

The government will seemingly choose locks over learning, property over privacy, enforcement over education, (law)suits over security, lobbyists over librarians, and U.S. policy over a "Canadian-made" solution.  Once the bill is introduced, look for the government to put it on the fast track with limited opportunity for Canadians to appear before committees considering the bill. With a Canadian DMCA imminent, what matters now are voices. It will be up to those opposed to this law to make theirs heard.

Update: Many people have asked what they can do to make their voices heard on this issue. Last year, I posted 30 Things You Can Do about anti-circumvention legislation.  Many of those recommendations still apply, starting with a letter (letter, not email – no stamp required) to your Member of Parliament, the Ministers of Industry and Canadian Heritage, and the Prime Minister. 

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November 27, 2007 30 comments Audio, News, Podcasts

Finland Court on Effective Copyright Protection

Lots of interest in a new decision from the Helsinki District Court, which has ruled the copy-protection system for DVDs, known as CSS, is not an effective TPM and therefore circumventing it does not constitute infringement.

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May 28, 2007 2 comments Must Reads

Will The Next Copyright Bill Pass Constitutional Scrutiny?

My colleague Jeremy deBeer has been the leading voice questioning whether anti-circumvention legislation – the legal protection for DRM that is often described as "para-copyright" – is constitutional, given that the potential rules arguably involve property rights (which falls under provincial jurisdiction) far more than traditional copyright (a federal matter).  […]

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May 24, 2007 4 comments News

Australia A.G. Releases Draft TPM Legislation

While Canada is still weeks or months from new legislation (hence the 30 Days of DRM project), Australia's Attorney General has just released draft anti-circumvention legislation.  Australia faces different circumstances from Canada since its free trade agreement with the U.S. requires new laws by the end of the year.  The […]

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September 4, 2006 2 comments News