Why Bill C-11’s Digital Lock Rules May Hurt Copyright Enforcement

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, which is continuing its study on intellectual property, received some important evidence last week from an Ottawa firm focused on IP enforcement issues. Harry Page, the CEO of UBM TechInsights, told the committee that Bill C-11 will actually impede the ability to enforce intellectual property rights. Page’s concern is the same as that expressed by businesses, consumer groups, education: overbroad digital lock rules. According to Page:

we have a concern that aspects of the Copyright Act may actually have an unintended consequence with respect to our local technology community and our ability help people in the protection of their intellectual property. Specifically, our concern is that the anti-circumvention provisions could create legal uncertainty where that would actually discourage the use of forensics to detect infringement of other forms of intellectual property. Even though the fact is that the circumvention of those protection measures actually have nothing to do with the copyright material under protection.

While the committee legislation is now passed and will soon be enacted we will continue our pledge to continue to work with the government and the appropriate bodies to ensure that the regulatory language bringing the act into force are clear and precise so they do not hinder the full and forceful protection of Canadian intellectual property and the protection of intellectual property creators and owners in the international marketplace.

The comments clearly caught Conservative MPs by surprise with MP Peter Braid following up by asking whether Page was “confident that whatever concerns you have will be addressed through regulatory change?”. Page responded “I think so” and Braid quickly changed witnesses. Yet the government has said nothing about potential new exceptions by way of regulation to the digital lock rules and it seems unlikely that Page was provided with inside information.

In fact, MP Cheryl Gallant later asked how to address the problem and Page responds:

There are a number of ways to do that. We’ve looked at the legislation around the world and if you look at New Zealand’s legislation, for example, they have the concept of an authorized circumventor which essentially defines the situation where circumvention is allowed. Certainly, with our own act there is an investigative exemption and we think if the investigative exemption actually was modified to include the investigating breaches of all laws and international IP treaties as well, that could be a focus of it as well.

In our mind, it’s really more the intent of breaching the TPMs than the act itself. Obviously, breaching a TPM for the purpose of infringing and for copyrighting should be a breach of the law and heavily prosecuted. But we believe under the fair dealings provision, as well, that you should be allowed to circumvent any provision to actually investigate breaches of personal rights. So it’s the circumstances under which you would actually investigate.

Page’s comments and suggestions for reform were the same ones the Bill C-11 heard repeatedly from dozens of witnesses and thousands of Canadians. It rejected those amendments, leaving intact provisions that now even IP enforcement companies say will make their job more difficult.


  1. Devil's Advocate says:

    What’s wrong with this statement?…
    “…for example, they have the concept of an authorized circumventor which essentially defines the situation where circumvention is allowed.

    The idiocy is astounding.

    They want to stop infringement of CONTENT, so they try to lock it. Then, when it is demonstrated that the locks provide no actual protection, they decide they need to protect the LOCKS themselves.

    Then, they realize that protecting the locks can impede things THEY want to be able to do, so the next “logical step” is to create “authorities” that are allowed to break the locks for them.

    We all know, their difficulties don’t stop there.
    What is to be done when the “legal circumventors” find themselves accused of infringement?

    It’s just one big story of self-defeat for the IP “industry”.

    First, copyright created the original “crime” by circumventing a natural right. While a monopoly was still possible, content creators enjoyed the windfall. So much, they wanted more – leading to copyright extension and creative twisting of laws to extract more income.

    Enter the internet, blowing the whole concept of “intellectual property” right out of the water. At that point, it should have been self-evident that new business models were needed, and that their artificial “rights” would be impossible to defend. After all, nobody has the right to simply “expect” to be paid, right?!

    But no, obviously.
    It was decided early in the game to spin the whole thing so that the General Public were somehow guilty of criminal activity en masse, and that the EXPECTATIONS of rights holders were the de facto norm, needing laws to protect them all, no matter how implausible.

    Copyright is dead.
    All business models built around copyright are dead.
    The quicker everyone recognizes this, the quicker we can all move on.

  2. If there is a political party that will promise to repeal the “anti freedom” provisions of C-11, C-30 and the rest of Harper’s abominations, I will not only vote for them, but also donate my money and volunteer my time to get them into power.

  3. Chris Brand says:

    Re: What’s wrong…
    It’s more bizarre than that, in my opinion.
    In general, the law says that I can do what I like with my property.
    One of the exceptions to that is if my property happens to contain a copy of a copyrighted work and I don’t own the copyright.
    Exceptions to *that* are called “Fair dealing”.
    An exception to *that* is if the work is “locked” using DRM.
    So now these guys are saying they need an exception to *that*.

    Good news for IP lawyers, I guess…

  4. davegravy says:

    @Chris Brand
    I almost need a flow-chart to understand it all. So comprehensive!

  5. Actually what’s most likely to happen is business IT consultants will start switching businesses over to open source due to interoperability problems that will happen due to these provisions. While yes enforcement is a problem, but what’s more an issue right now is how many jobs will be put at risk because companies will not be willing to invest in enterprise software because it’s locked down and not compatible with existing and new tech. The economic cost to the Canadian software industry could be huge due to this provision. Not exactly sure the Canadian Chamber is speaking or advocating on behalf of the majority of its members interests while supporting these digital lock provisions IMO. I plan on speaking with many local chambers about this in the fall.

  6. Shame
    What a mess..what a mess, hanging my head in shame. :/

  7. Wait so the IP industries want an exemption to break my lock/encryption to see that my encrypted storage media doesn’t contain any of their copyrighted works? SO what stops them from working up to my door and lock picking it to see if I have any unauthorized copies? Hmm….

  8. ajay dhiman says:

    copyright music
    The World Leader in Song and Music Copyright Registration! … How to Copyright Songs and Music – for Songwriters, Music Publishers, Composers and Lyricists

  9. So next they will want an exemption to privacy laws so they (or their associates)can spy on you to see if you have any of ‘their’ information?

  10. Mike Keller says:

    Defender of the TRUTH, Master of Destiny
    They should move to a simple ad based form of payment. Put the ad right in with the content in such a way that it can’t be easily separated, and get paid that way.

    Problem solved… copy it as much as you want.

    I understand that people need to get paid, or they won’t create in the first place… but the laws are ridiculous, and don’t work, and can’t be MADE to work, regardless of how much they tinker with them.