61 Reforms to C-61, Day 39: TPMs – No DRM Labelling Requirement

Supporters of anti-circumvention legislation often dismiss consumer concerns by arguing that "if you don't like DRM, don't buy the product."  In other words, no one is forcing anyone to buy products with DRM.  Leaving aside the fact that this may not be true – students may increasingly find that they are required to buy electronic texts for their courses that come in DRM-only packages – consumers often don't know that they are buying products with technological restrictions.  Most consumers know little if anything about DRMs and the limitations that may be placed on consumer entertainment products such as CDs, DVDs, video games, or digital download services.  While there may some limited disclosures – DVDs indicate the region code, if your eyesight is good enough you might notice that some copy-controlled CDs warn on the back corner that they may not play on all computers, and digital download services all feature lengthy user agreements that few consumers will ever read – they are plainly insufficient and the government should not support the legal fiction that "informed" consumers are knowingly purchasing products that contain a host of limitations.
For many consumers, these DRM products are simply not fit for purpose – they often won't play on your DVD player, on your iPod, or permit usage that most would expect is permissible.  Moreover, consumers frequently can't obtain a refund for their purchases as many retailers won't accept returns on opened CDs and DVDs and digital download services do not offer refunds to disgruntled downloaders.

The federal government might argue that this is provincial problem, since consumer protection issues typically fall under provincial jurisdiction.  The reality, however, is that the federal government can and should play its part to address the issue given the manner it which it is supporting the use of DRM through Bill C-61.  It should consider establishing DRM labeling requirements (an approach also advocated by the Society for Law and Computers in the UK) so that consumers will be able to quickly identify capabilities, compatibilities, and limitations.  The Competition Bureau is currently responsible for two labelling statutes – the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act.  If labelling is required for upholstered furniture, surely it can be added for consumer entertainment products.


    and why bother with any restrictions on DRM that way SONY and there buddies can legally do what they wish, and its legal.

    HACK people computers , and you HAVE to trust they dont steal credit card data, person information like emails and pictures, and anything else.

    I support this bills passage for one reason:
    IT WILL COMPLETELY SCREW OVER SO MANY PEOPLE that the TEch industry and the peeps like bell and rogers and telus will all get tits up bankrupt when no one uses high speed , wireless or cell phones due to not knowing if they end up in jail due to non payment of there fines


  2. Limited Labeling
    There are on some PC game titles that include a message stating something to the effect of: “This game includes anti-piracy technology which may conflict with some CD-RW, DVD-RW and virtual disk drives.”

    Of course this is not mandatory and in itself is vague, probably more to protect the publisher. The label itself is very small and hard to read without very good eyesight, glasses or proper lighting. Almost of the ‘fine print’ nature.

    I don’t think this is proper labeling and it should contain the DRM publisher’s name (i.e. SecuROM/Sony) and a full disclosure of what it’s affects on the user’s PC this can have; much like food labels.

  3. But how will this be enforced for imports? Or things purchased directly from outside Canada, or bought online?

  4. you mean they should all be labeled \”DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN\”

  5. DRM is pointles
    As is trying to protect it. Any music store that uses drm will fail just like the yahoo music store did. Who wants to lease content until the company gives up or goes belly under. Perhaps leaving the only way to acquire the music you purchased by DLing pirate copys(which will actually work on most mp3 etc players). DRM has cost the major company’s more money then it will ever earn and some of them still insist on it.
    If someone wants to hack or crack or copy a game or file(and file share it) there is little one can do about and laws will not change that fact.

    Heck China for some reason apparently thought it could DRM the Olympics and look how well that worked out. There has been well over 1 million dls of the opening ceremony(500megs-42gigs each) and the finals of most events are already up on BT shortly after they take place.

    In conclusion i also think that DRM infested games etc should be required by law to have some kinda notice, perhaps along the lines of “This product is infected with digital retarded management”

  6. Jourdespoir says:

    Licensed Agreement.
    That articles is really insightful.

    The problem with DRM is that nobody know exactly what that do, until they buy it and try it. Then, if they are not “ok” with DRM, they can’t returned their product.

    In the USA, if you buy a video games and don’t comply to the Licensed Agreement, no store can argue a refund. You can’t buy something in that country, if the contract is seen after the purchased.

    So, if you not agree with a Licensed, it is in your right to explain it to your local sellers and be refund. If not, keep all your invoice from your numerous buying, and go to the court of little creance (i don’t know the equivalent in other province than Québec) and ask for a refund to all the games you bought. Arguing over that you don’t agreed with that part of the licensed.


  7. Timothy Friesen says:

    Notification of DRM
    This is a huge thing. We have food nutrition labels to warn us of the contents of what we eat. Why shouldn’t there be labels indicating DRM? DRM is not part of the product. DRM is additional and actively works to restrict use of the product.

    If the Cons expect the market to determine whether or not products with DRM will be succesful there needs to be a notification system letting the consumer know what the restrictions are on the product that they purchased to use as they would like to use.

  8. Impulse Buy
    As far as games are concerned, most people I know don’t impulse buy anymore; this sentiment seems to carry across the web via blogs, v-blogs, etc. The reality now is you wait for a game’s release and look on the Internet for what copy protection it may contain, then make a decision. This usually involves visiting questionable sites to obtain this information. Where before some may have purchased 2-4 games a week, down to 2-4 a year.

    Instead of forums with people talking about odd bugs or patches, they now are full of comments concerning DRM; some of which go on for years.

  9. Maynard G. Krebs says:

    The Sony Rootkit & DRM
    ‘FREEDOM’ above alluded to the Sony rootkit issue of a couple years ago.

    Just to refresh, the DRM Sony used created a huge security hole on every computer it was installed on. In order to remove the rootkit the DRM used, which created the security risk, one had to use various and sundry ‘tools’ to hack at the DRM/rootkit mechanism.

    Under C-61, possession and use of tools to remove security risks such as this will become illegal, Sony will ‘own’ your machine in perpetuity, and any other external hackers who can exploit the security hole created by the Sony (other or RIAA/MPAA company) will be free to steal any of your personal information, banking, credit card, or stock trading account data with ZERO right for you to hold Sony accountable.

    The small group or Russian or Chinese or other hackers will collectively purchase 8 copies of Sony music CD’s, while the hundreds of thousands of people whose bank accounts are wiped out won’t have any money to spare to buy Sony-published/produced music.

    I fully agree that ALL DRM schemes used on any purchased software, music, video, etc. MUST be fully disclosed on the exterior of the packaging in a manner in which it can be viewed PRIOR to opening the package. However given the typical amount of verbiage there typically would take to disclose and to list the possible effects on your computer (one section of Windows – ech version, one for Mac, another for Linux, etc….) the CD will have to be shrink-wrapped to a 4’x8′ piece of plywood in order to give the lawyers enough room. And every DRM’d application, music/video CD/DVD would also have to come with a foolproof uninstall routine to ensure that your machine could be restored to a non-DRM’d state.

  10. Good Point: RE Sony DRM
    Yes, it will be illegal to reverse engineer DRM. Even now the U.S. DMCA prohibits this. So technically, Mark Russinovich, who revealed the Rootkit, could still face charges, unlikely, but it’s legal to do so.

    Also, don’t forget, Canada was one of the last to receive compensation from Sony over it’s Rootkit, partly because of “the absence of Canadian regulatory action”–yeah right 😉

  11. The sad thing about the Sony BMG DRM CDs is that many are still in the martketplace – I saw one at a local store this month in fact, still on sale.

    On the bright side, no current record label deploys DRM.

    (Most, 99%) movie DVDs so put an ugly yet noticeable DRM notice on the back cover.

    Also on the plus side – I accidentally bought an album from iTunes I thought was “plus” (no DRM) and I requested a refund – and got it. I only do the iTunes Plus thing now.

  12. I should clarify, no current record label deploys DRM *ON THEIR CDs*.

  13. this says it all

    “The consumer marketplace is increasingly going beyond that apathy to a type of lawlessness. They’ll just ignore the government because it’s so irrelevant.”

    well were at it why doesn’t our gov use Open Source software?

  14. The Progressive Communist Party of Canada.

  15. The Conservative Communist Party of Cana
    Communism as an ideology when it was developed it was based on noble principles . Then that ideology which was based on giving power to the people (as in democracy which it means basically the same thing: government by the people) was spoiled in Russia by the corruption of the people representatives transforming Communism in a government dictatorship. Capitalism here in north America is spoiled by few oligopolies which are now basically in power and acting like the ex Communist government of Russia. So if you want a slogan then I’ll give you one: “The Conservative Communist Party of Canada”. It seems to me more appropriate in today Canadian scenario.

  16. Sony DRM
    DRM may cost companys more then they know. After the whole Sony DRM rootkit thing i vowed to myself to never purchase any sony or sony subsidarys products. I also take great joy in changing my friends and familys mind when it comes to the electronics they buy. I have had 2 family members buy big toshiba or samsung TVs because i told them sony was crap, as well as 5 friends i convinced to buy wiis or xboxs instead of playstations. I have also convinced many people that the quality difference in blue ray does not warrent the retarded costs of the system.

    As DRM is not part of the product people want to buy and as such in a free market economy they should have the choice to not buy product that contain malware or worse that is implanted into the content one payes for. DRM being protected under law when there is such possiblity for abuse is just pointless and retarded. Only laws concerning DRM should be the requirement to label products that are tainted with drm, or have a law allowing returns of products with DRM that the consumers deemed contaiminted or unuseful(the people that should be protected by government not big corporat intrests)