Given the widespread use of the Prentice/Verner form letter, it is always good to see MPs venture beyond talking points and actually address the substance of constituent concerns. A reader recently passed along an exchange with MP Bev Shipley. While I think Shipley should be commended for engaging on the issue, the letter highlights how the bill and the concerns of many Canadians are not well understood. For example, Shipley writes that
C-61 allows you to copy your DVD to your computer in various formats. If you damage your DVD you do not lose ownership right to the material although the format in which you use it may be somewhat limited. You can view the movie on your computer or you can connect your computer to your television.
This is simply wrong. C-61 does not give Canadians the right to copy DVDs. In fact, under the bill most DVD copying will involve both an illegal circumvention and copyright-infringing format shift. Moreover, depending upon your operating system, you may be unable to play the DVD on your computer.
And let's be perfectly honest about what is going on here – you know and I know the issue is not about making a back up copy of a CD or a DVD. It is about file sharing and acquiring media people do not pay for!
While I know that there are those would like to characterize the C-61 criticisms as being about a free-for-all, I think this too misses the point. The majority of editorials and commentaries have rightly focused on the harm this bill does to Canadians who purchase digital content. The same criticisms could be levelled at the impact on education, or libraries, or film making, or artists, or musicians. It could also focus on the groups that are broadly supportive of copyright reform but increasingly vocal about their disappointment with C-61 including writers, artists, and copyright collectives. The various reasons for criticims may differ, but if we're going to "perfectly honest" about the debate over C-61, let's do away with the claims that opposition to this bill is all about file sharing.