30 Days of DRM – Day 13: Criticism, Review and News Reporting (Circumvention Rights)

Yesterday's posting covered the research and private study side of fair dealing. The other major component of the fair dealing user right is contained at Sections 29.1 and 29.2 of the Copyright Act, covering criticism, review, and news reporting.  Both sections permit fair dealing in a work for those purposes provided that the source is identified.  These user rights are equally an integral part of the Copyright Act and should not be unduly constrained. 

Indeed, with the emergence of citizen journalism and user generated content, these rights have assumed even greater importance.
As I wrote earlier this year, we are all journalists now.  The ability for anyone to use new electronic tools to engage in criticism, review, or news reporting must be fully protected.  An anti-circumvention provision would impede that ability since public commentary could effectively be locked out.  For example, consider the recent online firestorm over a CBC National report on Prime Minister Harper and his response to protesters at a Conservative party meeting in Cornwall, Ontario.  Stephen Taylor, a Canadian blogger, compiled a video that included the actual report and the broader context to illustrate how the report left an inaccurate impression.  This was an important report that needed to be brought to the public's attention (and which resulted in an expression of regret from the CBC).  In a world with anti-circumvention legislation and the prospect that the news coverage could be controlled by a TPM (the broadcast industry continues to push for the broadcast flag and other potential controls), this form of reporting would be nearly impossible to do legally since Taylor would need to circumvent the TPM in order to create his video.  Mainstream news organizations, who have remained silent on the anti-circumvention issue, could face the same constraints.

Criticism, review, and news reporting are pillars of a democracy and must surely enjoy full protection.  In order to do so, a specific circumvention right for criticism, review, and news reporting as covered by the fair dealing provision is an absolute necessity.


  1. Why not legislate the kind of TPMs per see that are allowed?

    If the said problem, as most of the lobbies argue, really is the file sharing on P2P networks, then the law should only allow TPMs restricting the duplication to a limited number of hard drives.

  2. TPMs only protect digital copies. Also, user right’s don’t entail having an unprotected digital copy. A journalist could still create an analog copy and do whatever they wished with it for the purposes of criticism, review or news reporting.

    The question at issue is whether copying through the analog hole would be considered circumvention?

    I think TPMs are great for Hollywood. They just wouldn’t grant rights to use footage to anyone who gave them a bad review.

  3. Michael Richardson says:

    President, Sandelman Software Works
    “Analog copy” — what is that?

    After TPM there will be only digital.
    Go find a company making *new* reporter-class analog video cameras.