Bill C-60 and Private Copying

While Bill C-60 is history, a specific provision involving private copying merits a brief comment.  The bill's approach to anti-circumvention provisions was generally that circumvention of a TPM was only an infringement where the purpose was to infringe copyright.  There was, however, a notable exception for private copying.  In other words, if you defeated the encryption on a copy-control CD for the purposes of making a private copy, that act would constitute infringement, even if the copying itself was lawful.

The presumed rationale behind this exception was that the private copying levy is supposedly linked to actual copying.  Supporters of the provision argue that the levy can go up or down, depending on that copying.  Assuming a world of ubiquitous copy-controls (that actually work), the levy would decrease to zero since there would be no private copying at all.

  The problem with this rationale (aside from the fictional view of the effectiveness of copy-controls) is its faith that the levy will go down.  If does not, then consumers are paying the levy but precluded from making copies.  I raise this now because IT Business has an article on the private copying levy which notes that the levy still applies to cassette tapes even though virtually no one uses them to copy music anymore.   In response, Anne Bucci, the executive director of the Canadian Private Copying Collective acknowledges that "it's unlikely the levy rate will fall. 'It's never happened before. Certainly, it would be an unusual situation.'"

In other words, levies go up, but don't go down.  Creating an exception for private copying in C-60 on the assumption that levies would fall was bad policy that should not be replicated in a future bill.


  1. Darryl Moore says:

    What about fair use
    You make a good point Michael, however no good criticism of the private copy exception of Bill C-60 is complete without a word on ‘fair use’.

    ‘fair use’ would mean that if you legally purchased music, you would have the right to do whatever you please with it short of making it publicly available. Without ‘fair use’ you will always be indebted to the music industry and have to come back to them every time storage technology changes.

    So every new medium (L.P. –> tape –> 8-track –> CD –> iPod –> ???) will require new royalties to the recording industry. While this might have been technically necessary in the past because individuals possessed limited technology for making their own copies, now it is complete.

    No argument has been put forward as to why citizens should not have the right to do as they see fit with their own purchased property in the privacy of their own homes. I suspect if the recording industry actually had to make this argument, the public would stand up against them.

    P.S. You need a larger font for the comments. They are very hard to read.

  2. read comments text size
    the read coments text size goes down to unreadable but no other text on the page chages size

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    Comment size
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  4. comments are still small.
    The comments are still too small even on my 1024 768 monitor, and I have perfect eyesight without glasses.

  5. ‘defeated’?
    But what exactly does “if you defeated the encryption on a copy-control CD for the purposes of making a private copy” mean?

    Earlier today I put a CD into my drive and ripped it to MP3 files. Only afterwards did I realise the disc is copy protected, or at least the label claims it is.

    Does taking no special steps to copy a disc with substandard protection mean I’ve defeated the protection?

    It was like the other team never showed up for the game and I won by default…