The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter, Day 1: The Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired

With the introduction of Bill C-11 last week, the government plans to move swiftly to pass its copyright reform bill, including restrictive digital lock rules that have been roundly criticized by many consumer, education, and business groups from across the country. As the bill winds its way through the legislative process, I thought it would be useful to provide a daily reminder of what Canadians have told the government about the digital lock issue. Over the next few months, I plan a daily digital lock post that quotes from a submission to the Bill C-32 legislative committee or the 2009 national copyright consultation. The posts will begin with group submissions but I’ll feature individual submissions later in the series as well.

The series begins with the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) British Columbia, which works to assist blind and visually impaired students:

The exception that permits circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs) and the means to circumvent these measures for the purpose of producing alternate formats (Section 41.16(1)) may be largely nullified by the condition “to not unduly impair the technological protection measure.” According to the Canadian Library Association there is no effective technical way to remove the TPMs and to restore them after an alternate format has been created. The TPMs would in all likelihood, interfere with the use of some, if not all, of the adaptive technologies used by students with perceptual disabilities to access educational materials.


  1. So then …
    We are burdening some of the most disadvantaged citizens in Canada to benefit some of the richest industries in America?

    The Conservative party of Canada … falling down for the little guy.

  2. Digital Locks on lc dvd players?
    What would happen if I bought myself a new pc, only to find that a company had put a digital lock on my pcs dvd drive? I have 30 days trial of a dvd/blue ray player and then had to buy a full version or be locked out using my dvd drive – The company had put a digital lock preventing other programs from access the drive. Would I be forced to buy the software?

    What are the previsions for labeling that it or anything contains a digital lock?

  3. SId: In a word, yes… at least if you actually wanted to use that drive. From the Conservative’s point of view, they would argue that consumers retain freedom to simply not endorse companies that impose restrictions that are not amenable. I don’t believe any explicit provisions for labeling things that contain protection measures protected by digital locks exist in the bill. I am compelled to infer that the Conservatives expect that if consumers find such things undesirable, then word-of-mouth and the potential for a bad public reputation would be sufficient pressure for publishers, in general, to avoid utilizing measures that alienate the consumers.

  4. sigh…
    “consumers retain freedom to simply not endorse companies that impose restrictions that are not amenable”

    That may have been how it worked in the old days, but now companies make sufficient international business that they can just starve the canadian market of their products until we do agree to go with the way they want.

  5. Well what if the locks just don’t work? They are faulty by default. I buy a cd with a digital lock on it, the problem is that the lock only works in windows, and not on linux box.

    Since I don’t realize there is a lock am I still on the hook?

  6. Digital Locks are opening a door for anti-competition.
    I’ve heard it said… oh the digital locks law would never be used like that…. but…

    If we were to put in a law that a specific race could have their rights revoked… but told the public… we never plan on using it… what would happen.

    Digital Locks law is scary on a few levels. Say a company puts a digital lock on you PC. They could make it illegal to install software you create, to play music of your own creation, or load free software like Linux. Apple already does this. Microsoft could be next.

    Hell for that matter you could design a digital lock that prevents people from accessing based on race, sex, or what religion you are. There area already digital locks to prevent you from accessing content depending on what country your from. The law is way to vague.

    My questions what protection do we have from abuse? What happens when the law is used for those cases where “It would never be used like that”?

  7. How can we stop this thing?
    What can I do to stop this anti-public pro-corporation law?

  8. @SId – Yes, you’re still on the hook, because you “should have researched first” to determine if there were any locks. “It’s not our fault that your system is incompatible with our TPM.”

    (Quoted sections heavily laced with sarcasm.)

  9. Windows8
    If Microsoft works with OEM distributors to create a digital certificate lock on the operating system, does this bill make it illegal to run Linux on your PC?

  10. Yes. You can not break digital locks for any reason.

  11. 2011
    The year of the Linux PC. (sic)

  12. The problem with this is the lack of consumer choice…
    The biggest problem with how his is being put through is the fact that, in the end, the consumer may not have a choice.

    If all PC makers only sell digitally locked hardware and software, the consumer is screwed.

    What this bill needs is an amendment, forcing manufacturers (at least hardware manufacturers), to sell both formats, one with digital locks and one without. In addition, this must be CLEARLY labelled on the outside of the box, not in some stupid leaflet inside the box where the user is no longer able to return the product once it’s opened.

    Given that choice, I’d be OK with it. Then market forces could easily dictate what works. The people NEED choice, and this must be enforced!

    As for digitally locked content, well the creators of the content will quickly realize if the largest portion of their consumers do not own hardware that support digital locks, they may have to release some of their stuff without digital locks. It would be up to the creator to decide to support locks, or possibly lose some of their consumer and profit.

  13. softmodded Wii
    So I’m guessing my softmodded Wii would fall into the category of breaking locks, as well as my jailbroken AppleTV2 ?

  14. Yes, and if you use a program other then itunes to put files on your ipod you are breaking locks. In fact this bill makes it in the companys best interest to put locks on everything.

  15. To surmise: This could open us up to attempts by the United States Cyber Command to setup Canada as a digital puppet state, using our own laws against us over the next decade.

  16. The other issue that concerns me is the language that says it’s okay to “Time-shift” recordings except for the “purposes of building a library”. That’s kind of Vague. Currently I use a programme running on a Linux based HTPC called “MythTV” that I use to as my PVR to record HDTV. It interfaces with my Shaw cable box via Firewire. Often, if I want to keep something more permanent, I often dump the recorded files to my main workstaiton and edit the commercials and then transcode them in handbrake to a more suitable long-term format like h264 mkv files. Then I dump the files into the database on my XBMC Media Player HTPC software for later viewing. I do this for shows like Nova and Nature on PBS which I “time-shift” in this way, but in my case it may be months before I watch them. I let them build up for a bit then watch them all in one go. Is this too long term for this bill?

  17. @…: “companies make sufficient international business that they can just starve the canadian market of their products”

    I’m looking forward to having Britney, Lindsay, Jerry and a certain Lady under embargo.

    I’m sure that Canadian artists won’t cry either.


    You probably shouldn’t have just said that on the Internet, ‘Phil’.

  19. It’s worse than than what most people are seeing. Someone could release a set of public domain works, or CC licensed works, or GPL licensed works, and apply a “digital lock” to the set. Now an individual would not be legally allowed to access the underlying works in ways the digital lock didn’t allow. This circumvents the intent and purpose of the underlying copyright licenses.

    Digital locks go way beyond the concepts of copyright. They aren’t even an extension of copyright, they are a completely new set of restrictions that bypass copyright completely. They place control in the hands of the distributor, the copyright holder’s wishes are irrelevant.

    Copyright law should be focused on the issues of copyright, not distribution techniques. Any reference to TPM or “digital locks” simply does not belong in a bill on modernizing copyright.

    If we wish to introduce a generalized bill on distribution controls, it takes on a whole different aspect. The flaws become very apparent. Wrapping the protection of TPM into a copyright bill simply confuses the whole issue. On it’s own, a “TPM protection bill” would have very little chance of becoming law, and any Constitutional challenges to such a law would be focused on that law alone.


    I know what you mean but I wouldn’t have thought that just “recording stuff off TV” to keep for your own use would be a big deal. Back in the 80s as a kid I used to use my VHS-VCR to record lots of movies and tv-shows and had shelves of VHS tapes that I kept for years full of movies and tv-shows I had recorded off TV. Nobody in that day would have said that I was doing anything wrong. The only difference now is that I”m doing the same thing with PCs; recording HDTV from Cable (legally subscribed) and recording it to PC and storing it long term on Hard Drives (instead of VHS tapes). I’m exactly the functional equivalent of what people did with VCR’s in years gone by.

  21. I’m looking forward to this law being passed. Just wait till you see a huge spike of out of warranty items like cars because someone tried to do basic maintenance on their car by reading codes with a code reader but the code reader had to break Ford encryption.

    Ohhh your mechanic is not using Ford licensed diagnostic equipment that contains the key to your cars encrypted computer access, too bad you just voided your warranty.

  22. This legislation will produce products no one wants
    People simply won’t keep buying media that is so locked down it’s unusable. I’m fairly certain this will spell the end of big media as they now have the tools they need to drive all their customers away.

  23. Doug Webb said: This legislation will produce products no one wants

    I wish this was true but it won’t happen. There amount of people who want their daily fix of media in exchange for their personal info out numbers the ones who see this as a broken system giving rights to the corporations while taking away citizen/consumer rights.

  24. Proselytising
    I challenge all readers to start actively proselytizing among friends, family, colleagues, and social media contacts. I’ve started doing this, and I am amazed at the lack of awareness regarding the subject matter discussed here. Especially if they counter “but don’t you think artists should be paid for their work” there is a noble and just undertaking waiting for you.

    Today’s posting deals with a specific exception for the visually impaired; I only know of one such individual in my extended family. I’m sure a lot more postings which hurt directly will follow. The basic problem that I find is that people are just not aware of any specifics. So if you say “the bill makes sures creators get paid for their work” then ‘everyone’ will agree with it, since they do not know any better.

  25. @end user: “There amount of people who want their daily fix of media…”

    Tax them. For starters, $10 additional tax per each DRM-protected copy of a title.

    The money could then go to libraries, archives and schools to compensate the costs of dealing with DRM. And to pay for the enforcement of the law protecting it.


  26. “People won’t buy media so locked down it’s unusable…” I won’t, but my son’s school has. He’s in Grade 6, and his math textbook comes with a CD that has all his homework assignments for the year on it. It does not run on our operating system. Only solution suggested thus far has been to break the digital lock so that we could print the PDFs – so he could do his homework.

    I’ve already pointed this out to the school and let them know I object to the situation, but bulk purchase contracts by school boards are not the kind of thing it’s easy to influence on a case-by-case basis.

  27. Proselytising
    I challenge all readers to start actively proselytizing among friends, family, colleagues, and social media contacts. I’ve started doing this, and I am amazed at the lack of awareness regarding the subject matter discussed here. Especially if they counter “but don’t you think artists should be paid for their work” there is a noble and just undertaking waiting for you.

    Today’s posting deals with a specific exception for the visually impaired; I only know of one such individual in my extended family. I’m sure a lot more postings which hurt directly will follow. The basic problem that I find is that people are just not aware of any specifics. So if you say “the bill makes sures creators get paid for their work” then ‘everyone’ will agree with it, since they do not know any better.

  28. Missing the point.
    I’m sorry but if you purchase a movie, PC, etc. do what you want with it. If you have to break the law to do so, break the law. If it’s not an illegal law it’s at least immoral and should be ignored, broken, and repealed at every available opportunity. Don’t get hung up on what is legal to do, worry about right and wrong. That’s what the law is (supposedly) intended to do. If it doesn’t do that, fuck it.

  29. …”do what you want with it. If you have to break the law to do so, break the law.”

    And this is why it is important to create good laws in the first place. Once you create an situation where some laws are ok to break, it is easy to extend this to other laws. If we have every individual trying to decide which laws are ok to break and which ones must be followed, our society starts to break down.

  30. Ramblin' Rose says:

    Canada Joins the Union
    Byte said: I challenge all readers to start actively proselytizing among friends, family, colleagues, and social media contacts. I’ve started doing this, and I am amazed at the lack of awareness regarding the subject matter discussed here.

    Maybe Byte’s friends, family, colleagues and social media contacts were as uninformed about the subject as was Byte in his/her inappropriate choice of the term proselytizing, given the simpler choices such as tell, inform, explain, educate…note I didn’t call them synonyms…
    I’m old enough that I used to “patch” a transistor radio into a mono reel to reel tape recorder and edit out the Radio DJ who talked into and out of the songs and neither John Diefenbaker nor Lester Pearson’s Governments were concerned that I was doing this. The radio stations were paying the royalties and/or the music industry was reaping the rewards of the exposure to those who had disposable income for record purchases.

    Oh yes and about the same time John Diefenbaker a “Progressive” Conservative Prime Minister from west of Ontario and Quebec, cancelled the Avro Arrow…the suggestion to this day that he caved to American Interests or concerns?

    Later armed with a disposable income I purchased LP’s that hopefully didn’t get scratched too badly before I transferred them to cassette tapes for the car, which became obsolete as CD’s were introduced and eventually with the introduction of the computer and a CD burner I was able to have a copy in each car, safely storing away the original…thank heavens musical tastes change so that there are very few albums that I have repetitively purchased in LP, cassette and CD formats…I may even have some sheet music of some of those albums around…

    Still the Government didn’t seem to mind and the Industry didn’t have the “addresses” of myself and my friends as we listened to each others music…a neighbourhood library so to speak…P2P.

    The ultimate affront was the introduction of purchasing mp3 crap quality tracks for a buck…sorry, I still have a “decent stereo system” or two…now if I could get a lossless track for a buck…

    If one doesn’t subscribe to the American Entertainment Model, then don’t purchase it, whether attending a movie or buying a CD or DVD…you can still “patch/record” from radio/satellite radio/internet radio and you can wait until the television/cable networks run the movie…talk about something else at the water cooler…go to the library where you can still get a real book to read. If the American economy is hurting as badly as news reports suggest, then Canada with a population almost the size of California might make a difference by exercising its “State’s” Rights…that is if Governor Harper would allow it. It appears that Governor Harper of the 51st State doesn’t really understand the model he’s trying to emulate or he’d be standing up for us, not lying down to them…

    American wants to lock us down, but still not include us in the initial releases of Ipods and Amazon Kindels. Don’t buy them at all…until like HP they dump them.

    Why is Goveror Harper so interested now in what I am doing, is he looking to fill his new prisons? Once the Reeformers figure out the cost of cancer treatment inside their new system they will be reinstating the death penalty…their new prison model provides health care for life…not a good Republican deficit reduction model…OHarper Care!

    I’m off to offer my opinion to friends, family colleagues and internet social media contacts, exactly what the price of their voting Conservative was…they didn’t listen to me before…why would they now…they’re gearing up to oust Premier Dad for a Who Dat or a Who Vat!

    In the mean time spar amongst yourselves whilst Byte and I are off Prophylacting… 🙂

  31. Yes, it’s entirely possible that this bill could have the consequence of making it illegal to run unapproved OS’s on your own personal computers.

    The conservatives position on this sort of thing seems to be that consumers would remain perfectly free not to patronize any companies that lock down their systems in ways that are not amenable to them.

    The fact that this sort of “solution” seems to completely ignore the fact that a consumer’s so-called “choice” is invariably limited by the availability of such products in the first place, something that the consumer has absolutely no control over at all, shows a complete absence of any foresight at all in the probable implications of this bill. As a result, the bill appears to have been largely drafted by entities with corporate interests only, and not a government that actually considers the interests of citizens.

    Despite what James Moore has alleged in the past, most reasonable people who want this bill changed are *NOT* asking for a legal right to pirate copyrighted works as much as they want… they are simply asking for the bill to be genuinely fair. The bill itself even contains fair dealing privileges for works that don’t have digital locks – if those actions were not fair, there would be absolutely no reason to call them so… and the mere presence of a digital lock will not change that, so there remains absolutely no compelling reason, even from a copyright holder’s own view, whose interests are supposedly not infringed upon by limited fair dealing, for the digital lock provisions of this bill to extend to the point that fair dealing privileges are negatively impacted.

    The only argument that drafters of this bill can truthfully offer as justification for it is “because we can”… which is hardly a reasonable basis for *ANY* law.

  32. Digital locks are something of a paradox.
    Lets say a company like Apple decides to start selling content that only works on their own devices. Everybody else, in an effort to compete create the same technology. Through business deals and contracts certain content ends up being locked to certain devices and becomes the sole limiting factor in sales, so one of the companies suddenly starts selling DRM free as a way to compete. The other companies are then forced to either offer the same deal, or go out of business. Apple can say it got rid of music DRM for the consumer, but the truth is that they had no choice.

    This is what happens when your DRM market expands to the point where you are unable to increase your market share because of the DRM.

    It’s a war you can’t win. As more content is created and distributed, and as the cost of distribution is reduced, DRM will end up sabatoging itself.

  33. SId said: What are the previsions for labeling that it or anything contains a digital lock?

    That’s a very good point from a consumer POV. Look at all the rootkits that SONY installed with out any warning to the consumer. The same with game publishers.

    The 2 previous attempts on this bill met a lot of resistance; however Harper’s majority government is obviously not listening to consumers. Caveat Emptor? we need a ‘voter beware’ labeling.

  34. Why model patent system of a country that has a broken patent system that allows things like this?

    Hopefully the troll gets acid and fire poured on them…

  35. Old movies not on DVD… what to do?
    A few months ago while visiting my folks, I watched an old VHS tape of The Bed Sitting Room which my Dad recorded from TVO, or maybe PBS. It was an analogue recording of an analogue broadcast, of a movie which does not seem to be available anywhere on DVD…. and just try to find new VHS tapes of any show anymore. I have never been able to find a DVD of it, nor of The Last Remake of Beau Geste (yes, an awful movie but full of some hilarious scenes), or a great number of other older movies. And once that tape wears out, that’s it. No-one can watch the movie anymore. The real tragedy of DRM, TPM and any encrypted digital media is that our own government is willing to let the past be destroyed and forgotten by the future, not for the sake of the present, but for the sake of a memory from five minutes ago. Our childrens’ children will never know what life in the mid-late 20th to early 21st centuries was like, except for those memories officially approved by The Corporations. And once they find out, they will blame us, for allowing it to happen.

  36. Wendell Chrysler says:

    Breaking the law …
    I get “Advocate”‘s point about doing what you want with content you have purchased, but that is just too simple an approach to actually live it. My problem is that you can break the law all you want (even when you’re right), but if you wind up being owned by a bunch of predatory corporate lawyers as a result, who has won? I can’t stand to make myself vulnerable to these evil jerks, and I’m starting to feel in this surveillance society that I simply will not get away with whatever I do. Creating a situation in which they can go after you sucks you into THEIR system, and it is corrupt and terrible. The politicians, the judges, the laws, the lawyers, the police, the hackers they hire to track you down … they will all be on the other side and nobody (but maybe a few Facebook groups) will defend you. I’m against this law 100%, but I won’t make myself a victim to prove a point and make myself a slave to the stupid people. Buy an old copy of content at a used store, borrow it from your friend, tape it off TV, rip it to your computer … but if you start playing with their system, then you’re in their home court and they have limitless money and power. (and the Conservatives, by their very nature, will listen to nobody but themselves).

  37. Stéphane says:

    Once the bill is passed, EVERYBODY MUST break a digital lock and get caught. The system will collapse under the weight of x number of million procedures. It is inconceivable to me, to use government to protect the American majors.

    Also, i’ve read many essays that point to the fact that “copiers” are actually the biggest buyers of music and other media.

  38. James Whyte says:

    Can’t Overwhelm the System
    Stéphane, I wish it could work that way. The problem is that when you pass a law that criminalizes very common behaviour, it is largely ignored. They won’t have a zillion court cases against everyone who breaks it.

    So if you are in any group that is generally targeted for prosecution (racial minorities, people living in lower socio-economic conditions, protestors, etc.) then they be able to charge you with this just because they don’t like you. If you are a rich stock broker then they won’t. Laws that are broken by lots of people every day are laws that are selectively enforced.

  39. Just a thought
    If I put a TPM on my files, will I be allowed to sue and ISP/internet site that reads such files (you know spies on me *cough* facebook *cough*) and get lots of money? Or if criminals put locks on their computers so that the police aren’t allowed to see them (now I will imagine some kind of exception for the police/big corporation so that they do not have to adhere to this new law)…

  40. ,,,
    @Anon: The government is usually exempt from having to follow inconvenient laws.
    But you may load your fbook profile encoded with ROT13 and see what gives. At least it will prevent search engines from properly understanding it. Oh, and if some potential employer or your existing HR dept is decoding that, you’ll have a case.

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