One Down, 29 to Go

Many readers will know that over the summer I launched a 30 Days of DRM series that focused on the concerns associated with DRM and anti-circumvention. Day Seven called for DRM-free library deposits.  Well, one down and 29 to go – my weekly Law Bytes column (Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version, BBC international version) highlights recent changes to Canada's legal deposit regulations designed to accommodate the emergence of online publications and to address the DRM issue.  Canada introduced mandatory legal deposit in 1953, requiring publishers to provide copies of all published books to the National Library of Canada. With little fanfare, the rules for legal deposit have gradually been adapted to the Internet and digital technologies.  In 2004, the government granted the Library and Archives Canada, the successor the National Library, the right to sample web pages in an effort to preserve noteworthy Canadian websites.  The Internet sampling provision has been used to gather copies of political party websites as well as a handful of notable blogs.

As of January 1st of this year, the rules have changed yet again as Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda introduced new regulations to accommodate the emergence of online publications and to address the concerns raised by digital technologies that potentially impede access. The latest changes will require many online-only publishers to begin submitting their publications to the LAC.  The rules disappointingly stop short of requiring all publishers to submit electronic versions of paper-based documents, however.  Such a requirement should be considered in the future to facilitate the creation of a national digital library.

The new rules also address mounting concern about the potential impact of DRM to deny future generations access to the publications in digital form.  DRM has been viewed as a threat by many within the library community, who fear that they and their patrons may literally be locked out of digital works as DRM systems are used to restrict otherwise legitimate access or become obsolete. In response, Ottawa has implicitly acknowledged that the DRM-related concerns necessitate legal intervention.  The regulations now require publishers to decrypt encrypted data contained in a publication and to remove or disable systems designed to restrict or limit access to the publication before submitting it to the LAC.  Moreover, publishers are required to also provide the LAC with a copy of the software necessary to access the publication, the technical information necessary for access, and any "meta-data" associated with the electronic publication.   

These regulations mark the first time that the Canadian government has stepped in to protect the public interest against the potential negative consequences of DRM.  Given these new legal deposit program provisions, thousands of libraries across Canada may soon demand similar protections for their electronic publication collections, which now account for as much as 25 percent of library budgets.


  1. David Canton says:

    So the Feds recognize the evils of DRM when it works against them – is there perhaps some hope that same thought will come through for DRM generally in the upcoming copyright legislation?

  2. Dwight Williams says:

    I would hope so. Whether it actually happens that way…?

  3. Divide and Conquer?
    ..or is this a strategy to ensure that when draconian consumer-unfriendly stuff is introduced, the library community is already been given a hand-out to keep them out of the discussion? And thus allow the government to say things like “opposition to this legislation is not firm” or “many groups support this governments actions on copyright”.

    I think I’ve been watching politics way too long…

  4. Jhonny Pabón says:

    Exclusión de TPMs garantiza acceso?
    La ordenanza de montpelier del 28 de Diciembre de 1537 establece el primer antecedente de lo que hoy podriamos llamar deposito legal, con la finalidad de constituir el patrimonio documental de la nación y la conservación del mismo. Tambien surge como la posibilidad de controlar la circulación de textos, es decir una forma de Censura (al igual que los privilegios que anteceden al derecho de autor). Al pasar el tiempo las finalidades del deposito legal van cambiando, y así, se relaciona directamente con el otorgamiento de privilegios de impresión y distribución de textos, y más adelante deja de ser instrumento de censura y llega a ser un indicador que proporciona información sobre la producción documental de la nación entre otras funciones.
    Pero, ¿Cual es el papel que debe cumplir el deposito legal en la sociedad actual?, creo que debe mantener su papel de recaudo y preservación del patrimonio documental (incluyendo material digital on-line y off-line) pero además garantizar el acceso universal de este patrimonio a las generaciones actuales y no solo a las futuras.
    Las medidas tecnologicas de protección (como elemento de los DRM) impiden el acceso pero además la conservación y preservación de los documentos (Ejp. transferencia de soportes y formatos), parece que la legislación canadiense garantiza la exclusión de las TPMs para la preservación (2.a.i y 2.a.ii) y la posibilidad de acceso (2.b); pero ¿Que clase de acceso? o mejor ¿Acceso para quien?, ojala sea para garantizar un acceso universal a esas obras, de lo contrario creo que es una politica innovadora pero incompleta.
    Un punto que no veo resuelto, es alrededor de las obras ya depositas y que tengan implementadas TPMs, ¿Se pueden circunvenir las TPMs de obras ya depositadas? o es necesario un nuevo deposito? o ¿?.

    Jhonny Pabón.
    Bogotá. Colombia.

  5. “In 2004, the government granted the Library and Archives Canada, the successor the National Library, the right to sample web pages in an effort to preserve noteworthy Canadian websites.”

    It’s disappointing that this right was not granted to all other public libraries and archives, especially the provincial and territorial ones, as they may have criteria for digital collection that are broader and narrower than those of LAC.

    It’s even more disappointing that those other libraries, archives, and similar institutions, have not, so far at least, demonstrated much interest in securing that right. And in the meantime, millions of megs of historically important, but ephemeral, Canadian cultural material, is appearing, and then disappearing, without being captured for posterity.