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May 2005
June 2005

2005-05-07 »

Canada and Copyright

There's been quite some discussion lately about Canada's proposed amendments to copyright law, and I'm afraid most people are completely misunderstanding the situation. What you have to realize is how incredibly clever these amendments are. (You also have to realize that a copyright system intended for printing presses, vinyl records, and live CBC radio broadcasts does need an update for the day of the Internet, and in itself, that's a very good thing.)

To dispel some scary misconceptions:

  • The "notice and notice" system they'll impose on ISPs is incredibly lax compared to the draconian "notice and takedown" U.S. system. When an ISP is informed that their customer may have posted infringing material, they have to... inform the customer about it by forwarding them the complaint! Uh, I'm slightly stunned that we even needed a law for this. Oh, they also have to keep a copy of it around to avoid tampering with potential evidence in case a lawsuit follows. Okay, so ISPs should make backups of their systems occasionally. What's the problem?

  • "The alteration or removal of rights management information (RMI) embedded in copyright material, when done to further or conceal infringement, would constitute an infringement of copyright." Don't you realize what a great miracle of phrasing this is?? It's only illegal to remove the RMI stuff if it's done to conceal or further infringement. In other words, hiding your tracks after doing illegal stuff - still illegal! What amazing insight! But notice that what it doesn't do is change the definition of infringement. Removing RMI to make your own damn music play on your music player after you paid good money for it is not infringement. (At least, not based solely on this amendment, and I haven't heard of any other amendments that affect the situation.)

If you feel like writing to your MP about Canada's copyright improvements, please do - but congratulate them for doing the right thing, and encourage them not to later cave to U.S. pressure. The last thing you should do is accuse these people, who apparently actually do have your best interests at heart, of being exactly the kind of people they're trying hard not to be.

Disclaimer: IANAL, but chances are that neither are you. At least I read the bloody web site before posting.

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