A Week in the Life of the Canadian DMCA: Part Two

The week in the life of the Canadian DMCA continues (day one here) with Rona, Jim and Josee's ten year old daughter.  Rona is a huge American Idol fan, faithfully watching each episode and buying CDs released by former contestants with her savings.  Last January, Jim set the family's PVR to tape and retain each episode to allow Rona to watch how the contestants progressed. That night, Rona records an Internet-only broadcast of American Idol highlights on her personal computer.  She also asks her brother Stephen to transfer songs from her newest CD to her computer.  The CD is copy-protected, but Stephen uses a circumvention program to transfer the music files.

If Industry Minister Jim Prentice’s Bill C-61 becomes law, all of these copying activities arguably violate the law.

Bill C-61 gives Canadians the right to record television shows with their PVR.  However, the recordings may only be kept long enough to allow for the program to be viewed at a more convenient time.  By retaining copies of earlier programs, Rona (or Jim) is likely violating the law. (Section 29.23 (1)(d)).

Rona’s recording of an Internet broadcast also violates the law.  Bill C-61 explicitly prohibits recording Internet-only broadcasts (Section 29.23 (3)).

The copying of the music files also violates the law.  The act of circumventing the copy-controls on the CD violate Bill C-61 (Section 41.1).  Moreover, the much-promoted provision to allow users to transfer their music onto their device of choice doesn't apply either, since one of the conditions is that users cannot circumvent a digital lock as part of the music transfer process (Section 20.22(1)(c).


  1. Colin McInnes says:

    All modern media is exempt from personal
    The worst part is that it\’s clear from all the technologies that are \”allowed\” is that they are all \”old\” tech. VCRs, non-locked audio CDs, laser-discs, cassette tapes, etc. So they threw out a 100% insincere \”bone\” to consumers, while telling them that anything they *actually* use in today\’s age, is still 100% locked up by corporate interests.

    Anything used in the modern world is all illegal to copy. PVRs, Internet broadcasts (even those without digital locks), most audio CDs in the US (because the DMCA allows them to put pathetically weak locks on their discs, yet still claim it\’s protected), and every DVD made since they were invented (even though anyone can get DeCSS decoders nowadays.)

    What irks me, is that they pretend to want to allow the right to copying for \”personal use\”, but then let the copyright holder define when that right is allowed to be exercised. Which to me means that it\’s not really a right at all, more \”you\’re only allowed to copy when the corporation says you can\”.

  2. Similar Post
    I decided to write up an example on my blog showing an example for how ridiculous this Bill is.

    My example is, I have all 10 seasons of Friends on DVD, legally purchased. I run Linux and my computer is hooked up to my TV and it is how I watch my movies.

    I ripped all the DVDs, for personal use, to more easily watch with my setup. With this bill, since each episode was ripped individually, I am now a $4,760,000 copyright criminal (238 episodes in total * $20,000).

    Sadly that would be the least amount, as if I just watch the movies from their disc in Linux, it would be a $20,000 crime each time, as Linux breaks the DRM each time with DeCSS when you watch a DVD.

    I find this whole bill ridiculous, and if anyone is interested I wrote this Friends example in more detail here:

    [ link ]

  3. Death of the compact disc
    Here’s a possible unintended consequence of this bill: If companies start shipping music with “technological measures” to prevent copying, people will stop buying CDs in lieu of purchasing music from online music stores. CDs may be the dominant form of music sales today, but I don’t think people are going to purchase two copies of the same song. If they want to listen to them on their home or car stereo CD player, and on their portable mp3 player, I think they’re just going to buy one, and adapt as necessary. Most new cars and after-market stereos are equipped with auxiliary audio jacks, and if that’s not available the FM transmitter accessory is. Home stereos can play music off computers or from mp3 players just by purchasing a cord or two.

    Eventually CDs will go the way of the cassette tape. I thought that would happen eventually anyways, but I think this will accelerate it in ways the record companies might not like.

  4. Colin McInnes says:

    Just playing DVDs in Linux is illegal
    From Nazgum:

    “I ripped all the DVDs, for personal use, to more easily watch with my setup. With this bill, since each episode was ripped individually, I am now a $4,760,000 copyright criminal (238 episodes in total * $20,000).”

    Actually, even if you just PLAYED those DVDs on your Linux box (you don’t even need to rip them), you’d be liable for $20,000 fine each time you watched them. Linux distros of video players capable of reading DVDs are an unauthorized breaking of the digital lock that is CSS (Content Scrambling System)…

  5. Colin McInnes says:

    What C-61 needs is 1201(f)
    What C-61 needs (among other things) is Section 1201(f) in the DMCA, which allows reverse engineering of digital locks for the purposes of software interoperability. It allows software developers to reverse engineer software locks that were put in place to stifle competitors from making compatible software, rather than prevent copying.

    What it needs though, is an equivalent exception for when the breaking of the lock is clearly for personal use (ex: format-shifting).

  6. Fines?
    Fines? who gets these fines? are they going to be like speeding tickets which go to the local government, or are they going into the pocketbooks of the companies who were victimized? Also, who will initiate these fines? Will the police? Will the courts have to be involved to ensure that full legal procedures be involved? will they be serving a search warrant on me to haul away my pc to check for contraband copies of Timecop and Waterworld?

  7. Colin McInnes says:

    re: fines
    As I read them they’re “damages”, not fines. So they are awarded in a lawsuit. Which leaves us open to the US-style “shotgun” blackmail lawsuits, ie “threaten tons of ppl with lawsuits, whether you have sketchy evidence or not, and offer to settle, tell them if it goes to court, you’ll ask the court for the full amount”

  8. These scenarios should be transmitted everywhere, to papers and letters to the editor and everything possible. The more Canadians know just how wrong this bill is, the more will do something about it, and the higher the chance that it won’t pass.

  9. Linux Illegal
    Under this new law, most distributions of Linux would be considered illegal, as most distributions have included the circumvention tools.

  10. Colin McInnes says:

    As would all OSs
    “Under this new law, most distributions of Linux would be considered illegal, as most distributions have included the circumvention tools.”

    So would any version of Windows that allowed you to hold down the “shift” key (so copy-preventing auto-run apps wouldn’t get loaded when you insert the CD), as would all Mac OS versions (since they ignore AUTORUN.INI)

  11. What if…..

    What if “Jim” had a blog?

    What if “Jim” copy/pasted a URL from the Ottawa Citizen web site and a paragraph or two of an article?

    What if “Jim” then got a DMCA type notice of copyright infringement?

    How does all this play in “fair dealings” of this kookoo lopsided/one-sided new bill?

  12. VHS? Not likely…

    What makes you think you can legally copy your purchased videotapes under C-61? Most purchased, pre-recorded tapes are Macrovision-encoded, hence, protected by a “technological measure”.

  13. F. Montana says:

    Is Anybody Out There?
    Does this sound extreme? I recently read a biography on Gandhi and I think his example would be effective now with this Bill C-61. Would someone brave enough to gather the masses and plan a boycott this summer’s blockbuster movies here in Canada? Just tell Canadians to stop buying tickets, music Dcs + downloads, and DVDs until the Federal Government takes it seriously that the Bill is unfair to Canadians. If nothing is done and I know, petitions and lobbying is not enough, the Bill would be passed this Fall.

  14. head slapper says:

    did you read the area on Geist’s web site titled “Must Reads” (on the right).

    Prentice goes on to say Geist neglects this and that, Geist wants readers to believe this and that…

    Then says users can copy this and that, but adds:

    “provided the material is not protected by a digital lock.”

    LOL WTF isn’t? Every cd and DVD i have has a type of lock on it!

    Is he the industry minister or the minister of spin?

  15. It is fairly obvious that our government is spineless and was lobbied by corporate america to make these changes.

    We currently pay levies on blank CDs, DVDs, iPods, etc. This was done because they consider us all to be criminals regardless of the use we may be putting the media to. This Bill will further entrench the fact that we are all criminals and open us all up to lawsuits, since the government is not interested in policing this.

    Buried in the bill is some interesting statements like ISPs having to maintain records for a minimum of 6 months. Why? So they can track who does what.

    This bill is not for the people, but for corporations. We elect these people to represent us, not the corporations. Lets fix this before it becomes law.

  16. Go Indie
    I will buy no DVDs, CDs, Software, or any form of digital media, that any of these companies own or are associated with.
    There is plenty of music available from real artists, loads of movies that are not just commercial plugs, tons of programs which are freeware are BETTER than the commercial ones.
    We don\’t need them, they need us!

    Creative Commons and the GNU 🙂


  17. Every VHS movie we have (about 50) has macro-vision copy protection. Thanks for the helpful copyright upgrade, Prentice, that gives and takes away rights so fast it makes us want to spin, spin, spin to the tunes you are using.

    I don’t understand how “copyrights” applies to something that is prevented, by laws and technologies, from being copied.

    I don’t get why “Intellectual Property” means I have to buy it on VHS, and again on DVD. I paid for the intellectual property, not the media. If it’s the media I am buying, then it falls under different laws. If a CD I bought gets scratched, why did I lose out on my legal purchase of the intellectual property? Why can’t I just download it?

    Why would anyone think that such distorted and biased rights to “owners” and away from the peasants would lead to the peasants buying more goods? Why not do what we do … we ditched cable tv entirely, and we rent 100% of our movie entertainment. We use exclusively for music. RIAA bands need not apply for donations at our house.

    No more purchases, and the fewest number of sales toward the RIAA and MPAA. That’s what we did almost 2 years ago, and life has been great.

    I hoped the copyright laws might create a situation where I would want to give money to those sleazy, underhanded, evil pigs at the RIAA/MPAA.

  18. The family.
    Thanks for these real life examples. It is hard to visualize exactly how this is intended to effect normal folks just going about everyday life.

    And thanks for the giggle on the names. Rona, Josee and Jim are all good little cons though, are they not? They would NEVER ever break the law? Would they?

  19. US Ambassador says:

    Not to burst your bubble but Bill C-61 does have a section for interoperability. See section 41.12.

    Don’t worry the Conservatives faithfully copied the DMCA. Look at Bill C-61 and, besides a little reorganization, it is effectively a carbon copy.

  20. stevescorpio says:

    re-releasing digital formats
    Here’s another possible/likely scenario:

    Record company releases digital music with DRM locks using 128bit mp3 underneath that can only be played by their proprietary software and on approved devices. This file format is around for a few years before the record company decides to re-release the music with a new DRM and 256bit mp3. New proprietary software you need to download and new devices are sold to play them and they no longer play the old 128bit files.

    The only way around this is to risk $20,000 fines or pay for the music a 2nd time.

    The main reason I came to this conclusion is because the record companies have made most of their money re-releasing existing music on new formats (LP, 45, 8-track, cassette, CD).

  21. Legal
    At least with music legal & free options are better these days with the likes of imeem, Spiral Frog and soon Qtrax. Don\’t like DRM? Who cares if the downloads are free & legal!

  22. Colin McInnes says:

    Is MacroVision a “digital lock”?
    “What makes you think you can legally copy your purchased videotapes under C-61? Most purchased, pre-recorded tapes are Macrovision-encoded, hence, protected by a “technological measure”.”

    Heh, you’re right. Macrovision is only an analog method, not a “digital lock”, but it DOES qualify as a “technological measure”.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Well, this is getting more disgusting than ever! It shows that when when ever we have a Conservative Gov, they are the back Pocket of Americans! May be it’s time to bring back the Liberals, at least they stood up to the Americans (call him an Idiot too)! Let’s all hope to get a No confidence vote and SOON!

  24. No Win Poopstech
    No win there PooPsTech, Liberal Bulte in 2006 tried to do almost exactly the same thing.

  25. Rob Wiebe says:

    I’m thinking it’d be nice to know which corporations have the ear of Ministers Prentice and Verner. If we knew one, just one, Canadians could apply pressure in the one sure way to get its attention — through its bottom line.

    Think about it. It’s becoming increasingly apparent. The only way for Canadians to be heard by their government is through corporations. So let’s put our energy into telling one corporation what we think of them messing with Canadian law.

    Do we know which corporations lobbied the Canadian government to get these measures implemented into our law?


  26. Corporate.
    It is my understanding that the CIRA, is really delighted by this. (record company assoc.) and the US Bush admin.

    That CIRA website has glowing posts about how excited and giddy they are.

  27. errrr

    So many initials. OY

  28. running man
    Rob you can start with Arnold Schwarzenegger and all the Hollywood movie industry since the most restrictions in this law are applied to DVDs.

  29. Isaac Lin says:

    Regarding the interoperability provision: it only applies to making a computer program interoperable. Now, DVDs do have computer programs on them for the menus and other interactive controls, but it is unclear to me if this would apply to watching the video itself.

    However, regarding the possible damages, based on the proposed section 41.1 (3), if the circumvention of the copy protection is done for “private purposes”, then statutory damages cannot be recovered. So if I understand correctly, all that can be recovered are actual damages — the cost of the lost DVD sale, or even nothing at all if it cannot be proven that a sale was indeed lost.

  30. I am admittedly a copyright violator. I download music and listen to it. I download movies and watch them. I just wish that I could get paid for sitting though some of the painfully horrible things hollywood has released. I, however, on the rare occaision that I find something half-decent, go to my nearest online store and purchase a copy, if it is available to purchase (like really why should they be allowed to hold on to 100 years of copyright if they’re not selling the material). With c-61, almost everything I do with my legally purchased content is illegal. I rip things to my iPod because portable cd players are too bulky and fragile. I have paid thousands of dollars for the content I have on my shelf and even with a lot of the content I have now, my statutory damages would be in excess of 320 million dollars. Why even bother buying the content if they are going to sue you for using it?

  31. Acaykath: With the proposed changes in Bill C-61, it would be legal for you to copy your legally purchased CD collection for use in your iPod.

  32. 320 million dollars!!! Damn, thats 32000000 days in prison if you don’t pay up!

    More than what the child murderer Hamulka (however its spelled) got.

    The murder of a few kids is less expensive in Canada and gives less jail time than copying tunes to your iPod.

    Gotta luv justice and industry minister Dogbert we have.

  33. @Isaac Lin,
    No. Its not. there is a 20-thousand dollar fine for circumventing the copyyright protections on the CD’s.

  34. As I already mentioned, circumventing copy protection for private purposes does not result in statutory damages being awarded.

    Contrary to what many are saying here, as far as I know, the major music publishers no longer issue DRM-protected CDs, and over the lifetime of the existence of the CD, the vast majority of CDs issued were compliant with the CD standard and so did not include any copy protection (it cannot carry the CD logo if it does, as the copy protection techniques violated the standard and indeed could cause playback problems on CD players). Though I suppose someone could have acquired an extensive collection of hundreds of DRM-protected music discs (costing thousands of dollars, as claimed), I do not believe this to be common.

  35. Colin McInnes says:

    circumventing copy protection
    @Isaac Lin

    “based on the proposed section 41.1 (3), if the circumvention of the copy protection is done for “private purposes””

    Considering most people are not computer programmers, that section is useless. 41.1(1)(b & c) makes it illegal to create or distribute any methodology for circumvention, or to offer a service related to circumvention. So offering to tell someone how to circumvent a TPM, is $20,000 in damages. As is telling them which website to go fetch something like libdvdcss. Or rip their CD to their iPod for them, because they’re not techno-literate.

    The only thing that intrigues me is 41.2, where the “Governor in Council” may make regulations that stipulate exceptions to 41.1. But why make the obvious stuff, like software clearly designed for personal use, covered under section 41.1(3)?

  36. Isaac Lin says:

    Note my comment was in response to the examples given of liability for the person making the copy, not the person distributing the means to perform the copy. However, this points out a clear problem with trying to distinguish between devices intended to circumvent copy protection for one of the permitted purposes, and those that are not. There is no way to do so; a program might be intended, for example, for accommodating those with perceptual disabilities, and so it can be distributed in accordance with 41.16(2), but there is no practical way to prevent someone from using it for other private purposes.

    41.2 seems to be a way to handle new technological advances in content packaging and delivery that are currently unknown, as well as providing an escape hatch to enable ways to override the Copyright Act without having to go back to Parliament to amend it. I see good and bad in this (within the current framework, it may be better for the default to be more permissive rather than restrictive), however I think the underlying intent of Bill C-61 should be recast to focus upon acts of copying that truly harm the ability of copyright holders to benefit from their works. If private coping for, say, format shifting is considered to be fair use that does not discourage the creation of new, original works, this should be true regardless of any protection methods that may be employed. In addition, I do not believe that mere circumvention without actual copying (or making available for public distribution) that harms the rightsholder should be considered to discourage creators from creating new works, and so should not be considered a copyright violation.

  37. Jourdelune says:

    Privacy concern?
    That bill is really a slap in the faces of all Canadians.

    They are trying to make us criminals with day-to-day activities that Canadians do since 20 years.

    What concern me the most Michael, is the privacy invasion of the corporation. While they track peoples who do “illegal sharing”, they are on that illegal sharing network, and if they do, they are using illegal means to track down the users.

    Those kind of proof should not be acceptable to the Court, because they take that proof in illegal circumstances. More of it, more often than not, it is the big corporation who put the “files” online.

    Actually, using peer guardians, even if I don’t use BitTorrent to download legal files, I get some corporation IP block from a communication send from my computer to their servers. That is a breach of my private propriety and my private “life”.

    I don’t know how we had “safe” ourselves 10 years earlier when every others country was put on the tyrannic power of the copyright from the corporation.

    In my regards, The Copyright of Canada should make any third party “copyright” illegal. No corporation can buy the copyright of anybody. Copyrights should protect the creators only for their work. NO corporation ever should buy creativity.

    With that Copyrights law, the citizens of Canada could live at peace and give their due directly to the creators, since the corporation simply rape any creators of their right, paying only a minimal fraction of the profit made on his “honest” work.


  38. spreading BS
    @Isaac Lin SAID:
    “As I already mentioned, circumventing copy protection for private purposes does not result in statutory damages being awarded.”

    What kind of BS are you trying to spread here?

    Even the Industry minister said circumventing digital locks is a fine:
    refer to: [ link ]
    “provided the material is not protected by a digital lock.”

    How much do you get paid to shovel your BS?

    Get lost with the garbage you’re spreading.

  39. Anologue Copies
    Still not answered: does making analogue copies of a digital work constitute a circumvention of a technical measure under the new 41.1?

  40. consider the future
    Written by Isaac lin on 2008-06-17 23:49:19As

    Contrary to what many are saying here, as far as I know, the major music publishers no longer issue DRM-protected CDs, and over the lifetime of the existence of the CD, the vast majority of CDs issued were compliant with the CD standard and so did not include any copy protection (it cannot carry the CD logo if it does, as the copy protection techniques violated the standard and indeed could cause playback problems on CD players).

    Of course they don’t. There would be no benefit, as it is currently legal to circumvent DRM. Once it IS illegal to circumvent these types of controls, it seems clear to me that they would start putting even just trivial DRM onto their CDs, forcing people to buy multiple copies of the same music lest they become criminals.

  41. No Mention on Jim’s Site
    interesting to note that Jim Prentice’s website has absolutely no information at all on this bill.

    Jim on Canada’s Future in Space – check
    Jim on Gas Prices – check
    Jim on Copyright Reform – _____

    If this is such an important piece of legislation delivered to the house by prentice, why does he not mention it on his site?

    [ link ]

  42. US Ambassador says:

    Re: consider the future
    Isaac, what you fail to realize is just because MOST publishers no longer issue DRM-protected CDs does not mean the legislation is fine. A publisher still has the ability to severely control how you use your DVD’s or CD’s by placing a digital lock an enforcing the law. With the passing of the Bill they have the legal protection to make better use of the locks now.

    Furthermore, about section 41.1(3) it means little to nothing. It only exempts an election of statutory damages for (1)(a) (an act of circumvention). But all the devices and services still remain illegal. How is one to rip a copy-protected CD to their iPod (a perfectly legitimate use) when all the tools to do so are illegal. So maybe the end user is essentially judgment proof, but he won’t have to worry about it anyway because any legitimate acts of circumvention will be out of reach.

  43. US Ambassador says:

    Re: consider the future
    Correction: When I say “legitimate” I meant to say “what should be legitimate.”

  44. Isaac Lin says:

    US Ambassador: I did not say anything about the legislation being fine, and I have described a few of the various issues I have with it (I will be mailing a more complete list to various members of Parliament). My concern with the statements people are making about their CD and DVD collections and statutory damages is that they will be easily refutable by supporters of Bill C-61, and so may weaken the case they are trying to make.

    One more note about acquiring programs to break copy protection, in addition to the possibilities I have already noted: programs to break DVD encryption are illegal to distribute in the United States, and this has not hampered U.S. citizens from obtaining them.

  45. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    The Obvious
    “DVD encryption are illegal to distribute in the United States, and this has not hampered U.S. citizens from obtaining them.”

    $20,000 per DVD, plus damages for having the software, plus legal fees, court costs, and potential jail time if you’re caught.

    That is the part that people care about.

  46. Dominique says:

    I don’t like the sounds of this at all.

    My questions would be:
    Who would enforce this law?
    How would they be able to get access to the information needed to charge you?
    Who would get the money?
    If this was truly an issue for the artists, how much would they really receive?

    Not saying that we are all breaking the law but are there not bigger and better crimes that need to be addessed?