Post Tagged with: "30 days of drm"

30 Days of DRM – Day 22: Libraries (Circumvention Rights)

Early in the series, I discussed the need for DRM-free library deposits as part of the legislated library deposit program that seeks to preserve Canadian heritage.  There are additional library issues, however, that merit discussion.  Section 30.1 of the Copyright Act grants libraries (as well as archives and museums) special rights to copy works in order to preserve or manage their collections.  These are important rights and any anti-circumvention legislation must not be permitted to render them ineffective.

Section 30.1(1) provides that, under certain circumstances:

It is not an infringement of copyright for a library, archive or museum or a person acting under the authority of a library, archive or museum to make, for the maintenance or management of its permanent collection or the permanent collection of another library, archive or museum, a copy of a work or other subject-matter, whether published or unpublished, in its permanent collection

The circumstances that permit such copying include a copy that is:

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September 9, 2006 Comments are Disabled News

30 Days of DRM – Day 21: Print Disabilities (Circumvention Rights)

DRM has the potential to impede access for all Canadians, however, one group may be particularly hard hit by widespread DRM use and anti-circumvention legislation.  Those with print disabilities (called perceptual disabilities in the Copyright Act) rely on new voice technologies to gain access to works that they are physically unable to view.  DRM can be used to limit or eliminate the use of technologies to read text aloud, thereby rendering it inaccessible for a segment of the population.  Indeed, for those that think this is a mere fairy tale, one of the better known instances of "read aloud" restrictions involved the Adobe eReader, which restricted the reading aloud function for Alice in Wonderland (the same technology was later at the heart of the Dmitry Sklyarov case).

The Copyright Act contains a specific provision to address access for the print disabled.

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September 8, 2006 Comments are Disabled News

30 Days of DRM – Day 20: Public Domain (Circumvention Rights)

Concerns about the impact of anti-circumvention legislation on public access and use of public domain materials is frequently addressed by arguing that the legislation only protects works that are subject to copyright.  Since public domain materials fall outside that definition, works such as old public domain films that are enclosed with DRM could be lawfully circumvented.  Those assurances notwithstanding, without the inclusion of a public domain circumvention right, circumventing DRM on works that combine public domain content with materials still subject to copyright could give rise to liability.  In other words, pure public domain may be circumvented (provided you have the tools to circumvent), but once someone builds on a public domain work, they will benefit from the anti-circumvention provisions.

This is a particularly pronounced concern for historians, archivists, and film scholars since their ability to use public domain film or video may be limited by anti-circumvention legislation.  For example, the distributor of a DRM'd DVD containing public domain films along with an additional commentary track would likely argue that there is sufficient originality such that the DVD is subject to copyright and that anti-circumvention provisions apply. While even supporters of the DMCA acknowledge that anti-circumvention legislation should not be used to privatize the public domain, they are loath to establish a full exception or circumvention right for public domain materials, arguing that all works contain some elements of the public domain and that a blanket exception could be used to cover virtually any circumvention. 

A middle ground on this issue would include at least two provisions.

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September 7, 2006 2 comments News

30 Days of DRM – Day 19: Backup Copies of Digital Consumer Products (Circumvention Rights)

Copyright reform is frequently characterized as "modernizing outdated copyright laws" (e.g. see yesterday's excellent Ottawa Citizen's masthead editorial).  Leaving aside the fact that Canadian copyright law has undergone two major revisions in less than 20 years (along with several smaller changes), the reality is that the modernization is almost entirely focused on the interests' of a select few industries.  Consider the issue of backup copies.  Yesterday's post addressed a right of circumvention for backup copies of software, reflecting the need to preserve provisions in the Copyright Act that are nearly 20 years old.  Those provisions rightly recognize that software programs are an intangible product that is susceptible to loss.  Creating a backup copy right is a simple way to allow consumers to protect their investment.

If the government is serious about modernizing the Copyright Act, it could do worse than to start by modernizing the backup copy provision.

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September 5, 2006 1 comment News

30 Days of DRM – Day 18: Backup Copies of Software (Circumvention Rights)

As part of a major set of copyright reforms in 1988, Canadian copyright law was amended to allow for the making of backup copies of computer programs. Section 30.6(b), the backup copy provision, is quite narrow, permitting the making of a single backup copy of a computer program "for a person who owns a copy of the computer program," provided that the copy is for backup purposes only and that it is destroyed "immediately when the person ceases to be the owner of the copy of the computer program."

This provision, which has not been tested in the courts, raises the interesting question of whether owning a copy of the computer program refers to owning the copyright in the computer program or owning the physical copy of the computer program.  Many commentators believe that it refers to copyright ownership, in which case the provision is relatively meaningless given that most consumer software is licensed and not owned (although the enforceability of licenses that prohibit backup copies would make for an interesting test case). 

The provision would be far more useful (and make much more sense) with the latter interpretation, however.

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September 5, 2006 2 comments News