Post Tagged with: "interoperability"

61 Reforms to C-61, Day 38: TPMs – No DRM Regulatory Authority

One of the ongoing concerns with anti-circumvention provisions is the prospect that the legal rules create incentives to use – and possibly misuse – DRM.  France, which many people hold up as an example of a country that prioritizes copyright and creator protection, has many of the same concerns about […]

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August 13, 2008 8 comments News

61 Reforms to C-61, Day 29: TPMs – Interoperability Exception Restricts Third Parties

The problems with the interoperability exception in Bill C-61 extend beyond its impact on open source software. The U.S. DMCA restricts the ability for a person to disclose information obtained through circumvention for the purposes of interoperability by stating that the information may be made available to others on the condition that the person "provides such information or means solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title or violate applicable law other than this section."

Bill C-61 regulates not only the initial circumventer but anyone else that comes into possession of the information.  Section 41.12 (1) includes an interoperability of computer programs provision that is very similar to the U.S. DMCA.  Subsection (4) allows the same person to "communicate the information obtained under that subsection to another person for the purposes of allowing that person to make the computer program and any other computer program interoperable." That also covers similar terrain as the U.S. DMCA. 

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July 31, 2008 16 comments News

61 Reforms to C-61, Day 28: TPMs – Interoperability Exception, Linux and DVDs

The emergence of open source software as a powerful alternative to proprietary software models has been an important business and societal development.  Open source software is today widely used by consumers (e.g., Firefox browser) and businesses (e.g., Linux operating system, Apache web server).  From a policy perspective, the Canadian government's professed goal is to create a level playing field so that the marketplace rather than laws will determine marketplace winners.  It has opposed attempts to create policy preferences for open source (over the objection of some advocates and countries) instead favouring a more neutral approach.

Notwithstanding the claims of neutrality, Bill C-61 creates significant marketplace impediments for open source software.  Achieving a level playing field requires interoperability so that differing computer systems can freely exchange data.  The bill includes an interoperability provision at Section 41.12 which states that the anti-circumvention provisions do not apply to:

a person who owns a computer program or a copy of it, or has a licence to use the program or copy, and who circumvents a technological measure that protects that program or copy for the sole purpose of obtaining information that would allow the person to make the program and any other computer program interoperable.

The problem with this provision is that it does not extend far enough to maintain a level playing field. 

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July 30, 2008 4 comments News

Getting Social Networks to Socialize

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) focuses on the lack of interoperability between social networking sites.  While not quite spam, the steady stream of requests for Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Dopplr travellers, or Plaxo contact updates, highlights the lack of interoperability between social network sites and significantly undermines their usefulness.

The interoperability issue is likely to become more prominent in the months ahead as hundreds of specialty social networking sites covering virtually every area of interest from dogs to cooking, jostle for new users.  In fact, services such as Ning now enable anyone to create their own social network site.  The result is that Internet users are repeatedly required to re-enter their personal information for each new network they join and find that each network is effectively a "walled garden", where the benefits of the network are artificially limited by the inability to link a friend in Facebook with one in MySpace.

These limitations are particularly striking when viewed from a global perspective.  While Facebook is a leader in Canada (as well as in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Norway), nearly a dozen other sites hold leadership positions in other countries.  These include:

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August 14, 2007 10 comments Columns

Getting Social Networks to Socialize

Appeared in the Toronto Star on August 13, 2007 as Getting Social Networking Sites to Socialize Appeared in the Tyee on August 14, 2007 as Cracking Open Social Networks Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have become part of the daily routine for millions of Internet users who […]

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August 14, 2007 3 comments Columns Archive