Many people are still in summer mode, but the Canadian copyright rumour mill suggests that there is a lot happening behind the scenes with a copyright bill quite possibly a top priority once the fall session begins in 31 days. While there was much to criticize about Bill C-60 (the last attempt at copyright reform), given the continuing pressure from the copyright lobby and the U.S. government, I fear that the Conservatives' bill may be far more extreme in its approach.
Despite the negative experiences with the U.S. DMCA as well as the recent calls against anti-circumvention legislation from musicians, artists, security companies, librarians, and the privacy community, within the next couple of months Canada may be facing its own DMCA. I remain strongly against such an approach. We do not need anti-circumvention legislation. If the copyright lobby wins out, however, the Bill C-60 approach was clearly preferable to the U.S. DMCA which bans devices that can be used circumvent technological protection measures and establishes only a small list of exceptions to a general rule of no circumvention. If the Bill C-60 approach is rejected by the current government, the debate must inevitably turn to the dozens of exceptions that will be needed to avoid "unintended consequences" and to provide a plausible argument that the bill passes constitutional muster.
Starting tomorrow, I plan to spend the thirty days before the House of Commons reconvenes to highlight some of the exceptions and limitations that should be included in the event that a Canadian DMCA is introduced. Each day, I will post a new provision, focusing broadly on marketplace concerns, public protection, and fair circumvention. The postings will be collected on a single page
to form a compilation of DRM policy issues. Moreover, I'm launching a wiki
that will start with the postings and will hopefully grow as interested readers add examples and additional perspectives.
We should be working on a positive copyright agenda that includes an expanded fair dealing provision, reform to the statutory damages provision, the elimination of crown copyright, and protection from DRM. Instead, given the strength of the copyright lobby, we may need protection from the next copyright bill. The 30 Days of DRM page
and the associated wiki
will seek to provide a starting point for the kinds of protections politicians and policy makers should be contemplating.