Bill C-61 (or how we all became criminals)

About 6 months ago I started a post about copyright legislation in Canada after reading an article in CBC news “Copyright reform bill critics eye victory .” I got sidetracked and never got it finished, just got to vent but didn’t add enough content, then things sort of got quiet for a bit. This is what I had written:

It looks like one more attempt to have a tougher copyright law in Canada has been quashed, but when are we going to get a decent proposal for copyright law reform that looks at the interest of the public instead of corporations? When are we getting a law that allows fair use for educational and non-commercial purposes? I personally want a copyright law that allows me to make copies of what I’ve paid for, a law that allows my public library to provide movies for our multicultural communities even if it means disabling DRMS. I want to stop paying a levy on cds that does not go to the artists.

Well, things are not looking better now, things are pretty grim. Now we know that Prentice, Ministry of Industry, was not consulting with Canadians, or at list not with the general public, after realizing that we were starting to make noise and organizing things such as Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group. Little did we know that Mr. Prentice was just retreating to gather strength and plan an unexpected atack  (as in there was no consultation with the public) in the form of bill C-61.

I am looking at the official page for the “Copyright Reform Process” and my blood is about to boil. The lovely introduction is entitled “Government of Canada Proposes Update to Copyright Law: Balanced Approach to Truly Benefit Canadians.” Then, the short text explains to us how the bill ” introduces long-overdue and much-needed amendments to the Copyright Act that will bring it in line with advances in technology and current international standards.” The part this leaves out is how the reforms benefits anyone but Canadian individuals and seriously restricts our rights.

If you don’t feel like reading all or even part of this 57 page bill, check out their Fact Sheets. For example, in Education and Research Amendments it all sounds good until you get to the limitations. You would think this copyright amendment will finally take us out of the dark ages and allow ILL (interlibrary loan) delivery and reserve readings online, and use material for education as per fair dealing. Well, think again. You might do all these good things that will allow you do your work more effectively and serve students and researchers better… unless the material provider doesn’t want you to. If the material has digital locks, well, you are out of luck, because it is illegal for you to circumvent this technologies. Never mind these are actually infringing on your rights under fair dealing.

As far as I am concerned, those digital locks are the ones that are illegal and digital content producers, distributors and clearing houses should be the ones to be penalized. They want their stuff to be protected? Then they need to provide mechanisms for legal use such as for personal, educational and research purposes. How would the do that? I don’t know, but that should be their problem, not ours.

The media has been covering well what this bill will (or I hope, would) mean for Canadian consumers if it became law, as in the Globe and Mail’s “Ottawa gets tough with illegal downloaders,” and organizations such as Canadian Library AssociationCanadian Music Creators Coalition have express their disapproval. Michael Geist has written so far 7 posts on this bill since last Thursday and many other bloggers are covering this issue too. Particularly good is his The Canadian DMCA: A Betrayal. So go to any of these or all of them, read, get informed, get outraged and lets do something about it.

mar

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Filed under copyright, technology, Uncategorized

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