61 Reforms to C-61, Day 25: TPMs – Research Exception Limited to Encryption and Security Testing

Bill C-61 includes two exceptions relevant for researchers: an exception at Section 41.13 limited to encryption research (unlike the U.S. DMCA, encryption research is not defined) and security testing at Section 41.15, which could be construed to include security research on computer or network vulnerabilities.  The impact of the anti-circumvention provisions will be felt by a research community far broader than just those involved in these two areas.  This past week, I met with several University of Ottawa researchers engaged in fields as diverse as biblical scholarship and engineering.  Their common thread is that their research plans will be stymied by Bill C-61.  Researchers that need to circumvent in order to access content for media criticism, search technologies, network content distribution, etc. will all find themselves unable to conduct their research.  Those that argue that Bill C-61 is unenforceable have never had their work subjected to an ethics review that invariably includes an examination of the legality of the methodology.  If the work fails the review, there will be no grant funding and the research simply stops. The exceptions for encryption and security testing are needed (though as drafted they too have shortcomings to be discussed shortly), however, the Canadian approach to exceptions has been to simply mirror the U.S. DMCA list.  A general research exception is essential if Canadian researchers are to be able to continue their work.


  1. Didn’t knew about this one, but this feels to me as one of the most important aspect that should have been considered.

  2. Red Hat founder concerned over Bill C-61
    Despite an exemption in Bill C-61 that allows users to circumvent TPMs for the purpose of making software interoperable, Young told ComputerWorld Canada Thursday this could have unintended consequences.

    “I don’t want to come across as being hugely anti- (Bill C-61) but I am concerned about one particular feature,” Young said. “It errs on the side of making technology illegal as opposed to making behaviour illegal.”

    [ link ]

  3. Riley August says:

    As a researcher in robotics at Ottawa U, C-61 has caused me to make the decision to not only leave the university, but Canada. If this country’s idea of doing the right thing is giving into blatant American bribes, they have no right to the technology I develop. I will in fact be considering counter-licensing against marketing my work in Canada until the current political climate becomes more respectable and engineering becomes more legitimate again.

  4. Anonymous says:

    So if there’s an exemption for research purposes, wouldn’t one then need to also obtain some sort of official license that qualifies them as a researcher so that they can legally do this sort of thing? And would that not then also require the creation of an organization responsible for distributing and managing those licenses? Oh look! It’s yet another money-grab for the government! Is anybody really surprised?

  5. Anonymous says:

    It all comes down to this:

    Breaking DRM in order to exercise fair dealing rights for scholarship, private study and personal growth should never be illegal. Researchers, academics, business people, hobbyists, artists and other creators should not be stifled by unreasonable limitations.

  6. User Friendly

    I think that Illiad has summed up the situation quite nicely here:

    [ link ]

    Read it and enjoy.