61 Reforms to C-61, Day 10: Music Shifting Provision May Conflict With Computer Backup Systems

The music shifting provision is careful to limit the number of copies that may be shifted to one per device.  In particular, the provision (Section 29.22 (1)(c)) states that an individual may reproduce "the sound recording no more than once for each device that the individual owns, whether the reproduction is made directly onto the device or is made onto a medium that is to be used with the device."  While the intent sounds reasonable – no more than one copy per iPod or personal computer – the reality of today's computing environment is that many users will unknowingly violate the law and not qualify for the provision. 

Consider Macintosh users that actively use Time Machine to backup their systems (similar functionality exists for Windows machines).  Their computers automatically make a second copy of everything on their hard drives, including MP3 files.  This means that the user that shifts or transfers the songs on a CD to their personal computer automatically makes a second copy onto a medium that is used with the device.  According to the strict terms of the provision, this may violate the law and render both copies acts of infringement.  Users should be entitled to backup their systems without fear of violating the law.  Once again, out of an abundance of caution (or overbroad internal negotiation), C-61 complicates a straightforward principle to the point that may leave many computer users offside the law.  Simple solutions include a flexible fair dealing provision that would adequately address this form of copying or the removal of this limitation altogether given that the music shifting provision already features tight restrictions on further distribution.


  1. kriminal says:

    intolerable piece of pedantry
    In fact this bill is an intolerable piece of pedantry. On one side it grossly lacks in dealing with that fairly usage principle which is so important in many sectors (such as education, research, innovation and private usage domain) on another side dive deeply in minuscule technicalities which do not have any copyright protection value other than alienating consumers. It seem written by people completely unaware of today’s technology.

  2. What about the RAM
    Micheal, you forgot one thing: Whenever a computer accesses a file, a copy of that file is sent into RAM. So just by opening an mp3 file on a computer, would cause the user to break the law automatically.

  3. Alex Harford says:

    Not only backup systems, but any time data is accessed from a hard drive, several copies are made:

    – hard drive cache
    – RAM
    – CPU cache

  4. My office computer
    I’m just wondering about the computer I use at the office. It is used by me and only me. I have copies of my mp3 files on the machine so that I can play them during the day while I write software for my employer. Technically, I do not own this machine though I am the only user and do not share them to the network. Could I be in violation of Bill C-61?

  5. mirrored HD
    What if you have your hard disk mirrored? You could easily have a mirroring system installed on your computer which would automatically replicate in real time any data from your main HD to the mirror as an anti failure measure.

  6. Tape et al
    While most consumers don’t use them, tape is still a valuable backup medium for enthusiasts, professionals and business. If you run a maximum secure backup system, the system is backed up incrementally daily (at least one copy here), a weekly backup (potentially 4 copies per month here), monthly (another copy), and a mirror set stored off-site. That’s a total (minimum) of 6 local (not counting the original on hard disk, plus another 6 off-site for a total of 12 copies on tape. Of course the same principle applies to removable drives, writable CD/DVD, and other media as well.

  7. Maynard G. Krebs says:

    Mirrored, RAID and off-site
    Not only do mirrored, Raid, and tape backup get hit with this – any time you use an online backup service (Google’s, and a host of others) you could be placing copies onto machines in countries other than Canada. Talk about getting on Interpol’s most wanted list.

    If you use a cluster, your machines are often connected over WAN and automagically replicate date in real-time to SANS or Fibre-Channel connected storage. This is often done for disaster tolerance / disaster recovery by companies, but as the price point of this continues to drop, individuals will take advantage of this.

    I know somebody who synchronizes and replicates data between his home and cottage – the entire family’s worth of data is locally accessible at either location so there are no latency issues. Plus they do backups at each location, so thats at least 3 infringements, if not more, right there.

    Let’s face it, C-61 makes just about everyone in the country a criminal. And that’s just what the RIAA/MPAA and their Conservative bagmen want.

  8. This one’s a moot point
    C-61 may conflict with Time Machine. Yep. But moot, since most DRM is written for the Windows OS, using a Mac in Canada could soon be illegal as it could be easily argued that Macs are a tool for circumventing copy-protection.

    (of course, there is Windows-based backup software, as mentioned, but Time Machine brings it to the masses)

  9. Windsong23 says:

    Mirrored, RAID and off-site
    “And that’s just what the RIAA/MPAA and their Conservative bagmen want.”

    You mean just like the LIBERALS, right??

  10. Phoomp, actually, Vista has the same thing built in. Furthermore, it has a larger installed base than Leopard, therefore it is the one that brings it to the masses. 🙂

  11. Well, most of C-61 is unenforceable anyways since unless the Feds can monitor what we do in our homes and offices, there can be no proof of any of these so-called crimes. It could happen – but if it does I’m sure I’ll be joined by others as I storm Parliament Hill.

  12. Fedge, I daresay it is more likely you will settle out of court than storm Parliament Hill. Look to our southern neighbour for likely scenareos:

    [ link ]

  13. When I bought my first DRM CD in 2003 (Rosanne Cash’s Rules of Travel) I immediately drove to EMI Music Canada’s HQ and demanded a non-DRM version. VP of Marketing Rob Brooks came out to see me in the lobby. He offered me a copy of the US version of the CD, which did not employ any DRM (the US avoided much of EMI’s Copy Control crap). I started an anti-EMI website as well. By 2006 EMI Music had quit their DRM.

    When Sony BMG began their DRM, in the form of rootkit music CDs, I refused to buy them and added Sony BMG to my website alongside EMI. Any Sony BMG albums I desired, I simply bought in non-DRM form from a Russian MP3 site. Knowing how these Russian sites operate, I took heart in knowing very little if any money would filter bavk to Sony BMG. Thankfully, Sony BMG has quit their DRM too.

    While C-61 is coming from the Feds, we must remind ourselves that these laws are directed at the Feds by companies like EMI and Sony BMG.

    Next time you do buy a CD or MP3s, do a little research and see if they are from one of the “evil” major labels like EMI, Sony BMG, Warner or Universal. And same with movies – Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros, MGM, etc. Know that by supporting them, you are setting the wheels in motion for biased crap like C-61 to happen.

    For music, I generally send my dollars toward smaller labels like Domino, Temporary Residence, Out Of This Spark, Mint and Static Caravan.

    Major labels offer stuff like Coldplay, which is seriously bad music. Some decent stuff trickles through their floodgates but the majority of it exists just to sell a ringtone for $4.99.

  14. Alexey, I meant storming P. Hill if the Feds instituted mandatory monitoring of our home activities to prevent copyright infringement. I ain’t settling out of court FOR THAT!

  15. Sleep walkers
    Unfortunately the masses love Coldplay and crap worst than that. One of the most viewed TV show is American Idol which give you a pretty idea of the general test of music. DVDs have had DRM since they are born and you cannot find any DVD without that even within the independent realm. People are the one really in charge. Since this is a market driven society people can pretty decide whatever they want with their pockets. Too bad the majority of people are just sleep walkers with very little chances to wake up. This is the kind of society that eventually WE ALL DESERVE.

  16. easy to fix says:

    Flexible fair dealing isn’t going to happen. The solution here and in fact for several parts of Bill C-61 are to make small changes to clarify that automatic backup does not amount to making an additional copy for personal purposes, and then probably allowing circumvention and the means to do it in order to exercise specific, defined exceptions.

  17. easy to tear up and burn
    ^ “easy to fix”, you are a defeatist, at a time when that is shamefull. Flexible fair dealing, amongst many other sane civil rights will not happen with that kind of attitude. Your suggestion that we should just meddle some piddling little fixes into a big steaming pile of abuse, and that would fix this thing in any acceptable manner, makes me want to puke.

    The real solution here is we force our government to kill bill C-61. We make it suicide for them to put it through. And we get to work figuring out something that’s not irrepairably flawed. Because unless you want to live in a CORPORATE POLICE STATE, the people of this country need to force our input on the government. Including quality law drawn by honest people. Imagine.

  18. ditto
    exploder i second that; well said

  19. Stephanie says:

    Nonsensical on its face
    Leaving aside the technicalities of caching and disc backups, I have to question why this subsection was even written.

    In reality, how many people would even want to put more than one copy of a song on their iPod, etc? What would be the point? So what is the point of writing a law that would make such a pointless activity illegal?

  20. Max Brenner says:

    The Digital News
    Almost all he digital news Media, the MSM, are owned by a cartel of twelve families and it is all copyright.
    You can talk about the news all you like but every time you copy a news photo taken by a corporate reporter or copy text written by a MSM writer or copy video feed you are using something copyright that does not belong to you. DRM rights gives proprietary ownership of the news to the MSM and can makes discussion of their news feed illegal and to engage in dissent quoting their news feed is breaking the law.

    The new PVR machines will delete all content after a specified time, it can only be played once and it cannot be copied to another media. That includes all news stories documentaries talk shows etc.

    The public will be force fed the news. Each person will be isolated unable to discuss it and they will be turned into amnesiacs unable to be certain and check what they heard last month.

  21. Max Brenner says:

    Max Brenner, it’s not just the “cartel of 12 families” that get the joys of copyright. Even these comment posts are subject to copyright. Sounds trivial probably, right? But yes, YOU own the rights to your post. Even us commoners can create something copyrighted. Many average people make music, stories, paintings or other creations. All these are subject to copyright. Often this is forgotten when bills like C-61 are drafted.

    I wouldn’t buy a PVR that auto-deleted my unviewed recordings.

  22. Eyes Open says:

    Stepahne wrote: “In reality, how many people would even want to put more than one copy of a song on their iPod, etc? What would be the point? So what is the point of writing a law that would make such a pointless activity illegal?”

    Many people have multiple iPods – a Nano to wear while they are jogging or at the gym (no disk drive to crash), one they leave in their car loaded with 30Gb, maybe an iPhone as of July 11th holding another 8Gb of their favourites. Say you have your ten favorite Rolling Stones songs on each one – then your use of two out of three of devices these songs are on are subject to penalties under C-61.

    There’s no intent to ‘steal’ anything from the Stones, just a desire to not waste time deleting a song from the Nano, running out to the car to get the Classic and loading the song on that device, and then to have to transfer it to your iPhone later when you are flying to Vancouver for that business meeting. Mick’s a busy guy too – he’d understand. But his record distributor may not be so understanding. See you in court.

  23. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Once per device
    They really messed up the bill when they decided that you can have 1 copy of ______ per device, even if it is on an external medium to be used with that device.

    In this context, it means that if you have an iPhone, an iPod Nano, and a PC, they are different devices and you will be fine. This is pretty decent reduncancy for songs, but when it comes to other digital content it’s not practical, because under this new law an external hard drive, etc. is a medium meant to be used with a device. So, you can either back up the data or have it on the device. That part of the law was not well thought out, obviously.

    The law should state that provided one owns all the associated hardware and is not loaning it out to others or using the hardware to distribute the media unlawfully, one can use any hardware and any amount of redundancy one desires to backup one’s data.

    Unless the government wants to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to recover lost data, they will shit-can this part of the bill – they made the limitations, thus they are liable for the loss of data. That will be the corporate spin when, say, The Royal Bank of Canada loses all of its customer accounts data in a fire or some such event; All they need to do is say, “we would have had a backup, but some of our systems required copyrighted data, so under the law we couldn’t. Sorry you lost all your money. Go ask the government for that part of your life savings that couldn’t be insured. We’re asking them to pay for our man-hours and losses too!”.

  24. Max brenner says:

    An Illusion of Protection
    “Max Brenner, it’s not just the “cartel of 12 families” that get the joys of copyright. Even these comment posts are subject to copyright. Sounds trivial probably, right? But yes, YOU own the rights to your post. Even us commoners can create something copyrighted. Many average people make music, stories, paintings or other creations. All these are subject to copyright. Often this is forgotten when bills like C-61 are drafted.

    I wouldn’t buy a PVR that auto-deleted my unviewed recordings”
    What commoners copyright is irrelevant because commoners don’t have the legal clout or the resources to win any lawsuits that corporations have. they don’t have the resources to protect themselves in the legal system which is owned by corporate wealth by corporations which can try and try again because they never die.
    The masses will buy the PVR that is manufactured by the corporate fascist according to government fascist law because there will be no other option.
    It’s how it works. Canadian laws serve those who already have the power.

  25. Exploder says:

    We have to go back to the fundamental question on this whole issue: do we buy the right to hear the music, or do we only buy a specific single copy of it.

    What are our basic rights? Nothing, everything, or something in between. C-61 says they are nothing, and that’s not OK.

    The big companies want total control. They do ALL the copying, choose ALL the playback devices. You can only ever have the music in their chosen packages. Because they say so. Heck, they make more money that way.

    Booooo I say! Greedy controlling bastards! They have no fundamental rights here, just laws to grant them some fair protection. But WE HAVE FAIR USE rights too, to protect our freedoms too.

    Modern Reality : We must have the right to freely play the music we bought, with whatever tools that we own. Exactly how it gets from the original copy to our ears is OUR BUSINESS. I bought and paid for copy, storage and playback machines. You did too. I DEMAND the right to use them as I see fit. I reject the music industry from meddling with my free choice of hardware, it’s none of their damn business. They never cared what speakers I used either, or how big my amp was. As long as I’m not selling copies of music to other people, then I’m not violating their art, their rights, or their ownership. I pay, I play, so but out.

    I have a computer, a car sterero with USB socket, a few MP3 players. I don’t have a “CD player” or “stereo” any more, those things are obsolete bulky trash. I also own a collection of music. It all lives on my computer drive, uses 375ml of the space in my house, gathers no dust, never gets scratched, plays instantly, all of it, in any order, and flows onto whatever mobile players, at whatever times I need, or back onto a CD to give my Grandma a copy to check out (I swear she’ll NEVER buy what I give her anyways, but if she ever likes it, she will buy the whole box set).

    If the music industry comes out with a new extra high fidelity copy with 4′ posters and a lyrics book, I’ll buy that seperate, if I want to. But until then, my $10 to $20 bucks they already have. I get nothing more than what I paid for, secure, useable, and convenient.


  26. Distance Education
    question. will this prevent me from turning on my computer for the purpose of Distance Education, as in the lectures, library research etc.?