61 Reforms to C-61, Day 18: TPMs – No Exception for Personal Uses

One of the most common criticisms of Bill C-61 is its failure to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial uses.  It is becoming increasingly clear that many Canadians believe that they should have the right to use their property – whether music, videos or other content – in a fair manner without the law painting them as infringers for personal uses.  Unfortunately, Canadian rarely considers personal uses (the private copying levy is an exception).  This is not true for all countries.  For example, Lithuania (which has acceeded to the WIPO Internet treaties), includes a blanket exception for personal uses.  Article 20 provides that:

It shall be permitted for a natural person, without the authorisation of the author or any other owner of copyright, to reproduce, exclusively for his individual use, not for direct or indirect commercial advantage, in a single copy a work published or communicated to the public in any other mode, where the reproduction is a single-action.

While this kind of provision alone would be welcome under Canadian law (and remove much of the complexity found in the new round of consumer-oriented exceptions), it is noteworthy that the Lithuanian anti-circumvention provisions include a specific exception that preserve this personal use right by requiring content owners to enable legitimate uses.  Article 75 (1) states:
When technological measures applied by owners of copyright, related rights and sui generis rights prevent the users of such rights from benefiting from the limitations of copyright, related rights and sui generis rights, provided for in paragraph 1 of Article 20 . . . the users of the rights must be provided with conditions or adequate means (i.e. decoding devices and other) enabling to use legitimately accessible objects of copyright, related rights or sui generis rights to the extent necessary for  the users of the rights to benefit from the limitations of copyright, related rights and sui generis rights provided for their interests.

This approach has the benefit of not only preserving personal uses, but also placing the obligation on those that use TPMs to ensure that the public retains its rights.  Both of these elements would be welcome under Canadian law and provide some much-needed balance to the law.


  1. Thing is, this is completely unenforceable. How do you compel it, especially for non-Lithuanians? And its worth mentioning that many/most European countries have a personal copyright right BUT they also have levies to raise money for copyright owners to compensate. Also, the personal use right is never unlimited. It applies only to what you purchased.

  2. TPM circumvention tools
    [ link ]

    “Even though the Librarian is empowered to create additional exemptions, he cannot affect the ban on trafficking in circumvention devices,” says the report. So, although circumvention could become legal for libraries, “the means to take advantage of the exception may not be available.”

    The Lithuanian law deals with this, by requiring TPM creators to allow personal circumvention. But Bill C-61, while it may create specific exemptions for various users (law enforcement, etc), it still, like the DMCA, has a blanket-ban on circumvention tools. So there’s no way for anyone to take advantage of their “right” to circumvent under fair dealing.

  3. anonymous says:

    Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens’ What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Rearden, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

    – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957.

  4. It’s pretty sad when Lithuania is at least thinking in the right direction though. C-61 is completely geared to RIAA/MPAA interests, as if they were the only ones who created “content”…

  5. >>anonymous
    Ironically, in my (limited) experience, Randroids seem to be among the most draconian copyright-absolutists out there…