Canadian Council of Archives on C-32: Digital Lock Rules Disastrous For Long-Term Access

The Canadian Council of Archives, a national non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing and sustaining the nationwide efforts of over 800 archives across Canada, has submitted a brief to the C-32 legislative committee and requested an opportunity to appear.  While the CCA brief (not yet online) touches on several issues, including photographs and orphan works, its comments on the digital lock rules are particularly noteworthy:

Bill C-32 prohibits the circumvention of TPMs for legal purposes such as preservation activities used by archivists to protect the documentary heritage of Canada.  This is completely unacceptable and is a matter of very grave concern to the Canadian archives community in the digital environment where obsolescence is both rapid and disastrous for long-term access.  The CCA recommends that Bill C-32 be amended to provide that circumvention of TPMs is prohibited only when the circumvention is for the purpose of infringing copyright and that circumvention tools and services should be available for non-infringing uses. 

As I noted earlier this year, other countries have specifically address concerns related to digital locks and archiving.  For example, the Czech Republic’s copyright law provides at Article 37 that:

(1) Copyright is not infringed by a library, archive, museum, gallery, school, university and other non-profit school-related and educational establishment:
a) if it makes a reproduction of a work for its own archiving and conservation purposes, and if such a reproduction does not serve any direct or indirect economic or commercial purpose;

That country’s anti-circumvention provisions then specify at Article 43(4) that:

Legal protection under Paragraph (1) [the anti-circumvention provision] above shall be without prejudice to the provisions of . . . Article 37 (1) (a) . . . to the extent necessary to benefit from the exception. An author who used technical measures under Paragraph (3) in respect of his work shall make his work available to lawful users to the extent necessary to fulfill the purpose of the stated exploitation of the work.

It remains difficult to understand how a government can intentionally introduce legislation that will cause clear harm to the preservation of a country’s own digital heritage.


  1. Realistically
    Or at least in my mind 😉 what the proposed anti-circumvention rules in C-32 do is place the responsibility for archiving, for the purposes of the country’s digital heritage, on the rights holder. If they choose not to archive it, then it is at risk of being lost. This is a risk not only for the country but also for the rights holder.

  2. I was able to read and understand copyright law…
    But couldn’t make heads or tails of Article43(4)…

  3. Digital locks don’t need to be protected by law. If it must be in the law, breaking a digital lock should only be illegal wherein the reason for breaking it is against copyright law. That would be the simplest and best solution.

    Oh and the tools should not be illegal.

  4. Canadian Consumer says:

    Hmmm… so basically, one can hold a work of herritagge hostage.

    How do we determine reasonable accessibility? It is obvious that this can be abused, for greed or even out spite if the rights holder is an ex-spouse who has an axe to grind.

    How do we make laws that favour the benefit of the ART itself, rather than personal enrichment of a few? There needs to be a better balance.

  5. Richard Davis says:

    This is pure BS
    Why do we need to “update” copyright law? This is just a waste of money. Just a political show. It will not stop copying, or sharing, even if the penalty is death!

    Why are we giving the government the power to make everyday activities illegal? Do people in publishing, in “authority”, in academia etc.., think that this will make them more money. It won’t. Not a dime. But it will cost taxpayers tons of money to begin to enforce copyright on behalf of copyright holders. Let me illustrate.

    Do you know what is granted copyright? Everything. Even this little post of mine is now copyrighted, automatically. And with this kind of law I’ll be able to use government money, your money, to keep people from saying what I say. “Nah, nah, na nah, nah!!!” So get real people! Do not use my tax dollars to reverse the progress of technology to the way things were before the Internet, before digitalization, just to keep old businesses profitable. It’s a waste! And we don’t have money to waste right now. Do not try to put the genie back in the bottle. It’s just pissing in the wind! Well, you get the idea.

  6. It is amazing
    Awesome post! please keep up the great work i would love to hear more like this.

  7. @Chris A
    I’d agree with the second option. This treats it in the same way as section 85 of the Criminal Code treats the use of firearms (of course, there is also a percentage of the general population of Canada that wants to make the possession of a firearm illegal, just like some want to make the possession of a tool to break DRM illegal).

  8. No Interest In Preserving Heritage – Unless There’s A Profit
    The thinking behind any of the Harper government’s pubic policies is always motivated by the view that only those things from which an individual or a corporation can profit are worth protecting or supporting. The notion of a “common good” doesn’t apply. If someone can’t make a buck off it then it doesn’t deserve to exist. If someone CAN make a buck off it then it shouldn’t be owned by everybody. This is the kind of heartless, mindless, materialistic asshat thinking that is slowly and inexorably dismantling our public institutions and our ability to exist as human beings and not just consumer cogs within the wheels of a machine owned by a self appointed aristocracy of industrial pinheads.

  9. “The CCA recommends that Bill C-32 be amended to provide that circumvention of TPMs is prohibited only when the circumvention is for the purpose of infringing copyright”

    Isn’t that what everybody else keeps saying too?

    And haven’t its supporters made it abundantly clear that they aren’t going to yield on that point? That they would consider such a provision to be a loophole “big enough to drive a truck through”, as people utilize the provision to readily engage in wanton copyright infringement that is too covert to be reliably detected.

    What they don’t seem to be making the connection on is that such people would be breaking the law anyways, whether TPM’s are protected or not, so the actual number of people intent on infringing on copyright ends up being roughly the same. I’m not suggesting that such piracy should be tolerated, but all protecting TPM’s ultimately does is lock out legitimate users who might seek to engage in what are proposed to become criminal activities, simply to utilize a work in what would have been a perfectly legal manner if the protection had simply not ever been present. It doesn’t stop piracy, it just turns otherwise honest people *INTO* pirates, because the majority of people are not going to perceive that the presence or absence of a digital lock would (or should) make any difference to the rightness or wrongness of making backup or private use copies, and historically speaking, people do not indefinitely continue to obey laws that they do not agree with, regardless even of the consequences for doing so. The extent of C32’s digital lock protections are a time-bomb that is inevitably destined to self-destruct, with the potential to do significant peripheral damage to the very notion of copyright itself in Canada, such that it may very well be irreparable by any imaginable legislation that would not also propose to invade the privacy of every person’s own home.