Tag Archives: C-61

YouTube-Viacom lawsuit and IT-ignorant government

If you’ve heard about this week’s court order (ArsTechnica plain-English breakdown here) in the Viacom-YouTube lawsuit, you probably already know it makes a parody of privacy. It clearly states for the world that corporate IP such as search algorithms should be held in the utmost confidence. However, concerns over the revealing of personal information such as location, login names, and video viewing history are really just “speculative.” (This despite personal video usage history being explicitly protected by U.S. law.)

Now I may be a cockeyed optimist, but I don`t think Judge Louis Stanton had any nefarious intentions in making this ruling. I think Stanton is just the latest high-profile example of a government representative exercising government power over information technology without understanding how IT works. (Katie blogged about this same problem back here.)

The EFF`s Kurt Opsahl picks apart the court order in a nice blog post that really calls into question whether Judge Stanton understands IP addresses, user IDs, video technologies of the 21st century, and data protection legislation. The Washington Post`s Michael Arrington points out that Stanton graduated from law school over 50 years ago, so his ignorance in matters tech should not be shocking.

We have a similar problem with legislators. Even our very well-intentioned Bill C-552, aka the Canadian Net Neutrality Bill, has shortcomings that I can only assume are the result of MP Angus not being quite well informed enough. Yes, C-552 is on the right track, but…it could be better with a little more information and consultation with IT-literate stakeholders.

Of course, our largest Canadian example, hanging directly over our heads at the moment is Copyright Bill C-61, aka the Canadian DMCA. Anyone who listens to the CBC’s Search Engine knows that Industry Minister Jim Prentice (who has already been embarrassed by a wikipedia bio editing blooper) doesn’t have a clue (podcast here) about what the copyright bill really means. (Oddly, that show ended up being the last ever for Search Engine.) Talk about an IT-illiterate making telecom policy; sheesh. It would be funny if the stakes weren`t so high.

C-61 is actually a prime example of the dangers of tech-illiterate government, because it is the type of legislation that, if passed, will likely spawn lawsuits similar to the Viacom-YouTube in Canadian courts. Which can then be presided over by judges who, in turn, do not understand the way technology works.

IT-ignorant lawmakers make technology laws, and IT-ignorant judges interpret those laws when large corporations battle against scary new paradigms or information dissemination…it`s almost enough to make one become a luddite, merely in order to protect oneself.

Then, of course, one might be qualified for a technology-related government appointment.

-Greyson

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Filed under business, copyright, digitization, government, IP, privacy, technology, Uncategorized

The very small silver lining to Bill C-61: Amazing public outcry

Even though I feel pulled in a million directions at the moment, I could not let the weekend pass without some sort of post on the new Canadian Copyright bill, C-61 (aka Canadian DMCA). Just in case anyone reading this hasn’t been amply informed about the supreme badness of C-61, here’s a link to Industry Canada’s explanation of and fact sheets on the proposed changes, and another one to Michael Geist’s special article on the “fine print” of the act.

What has been neat to see, in the shadow of this terrible proposed legislation, has been the public protest against the bill. Bill C-61, looking pretty much like we all feared it would, was introduced Thursday morning. With no public consultation, yet several meetings with members of the entertainment industry and the US Government, a near copy of the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act was no surprise.

Within an hour I was getting questions about C-61 at work. The CLA was on it in a flash with their press release. The Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group (link requires facebook login, unfortunately) gained 10,000 new members (adding to the existing ~40,000) overnight. You couldn’t turn on CBC Radio 1 without hearing someone being interviewed about the bill, and the show Search Engine began a cool webpage asking listeners to write in with their questions and conundrums about the proposed legislation. Neat and evenm fun responses have popped up, including that collaborative video of people proclaiming to be “Copyright Criminals.”

Call me unduly optimistic after a sunny neighborhood block party this evening, but frankly, to my jaded and weary eyes, this outpouring of protest is heartening. It’s not just librarians who care about copyright. On the contrary, suddenly copyright is this hot topic that anyone ‘in the know’ seems to have an opinion on.

And, of course, Michael Geist has been tirelessly working on the issue. Watch his blog for the latest news, links to coverage, creative responses, opportunities to make your voice heard, and his own legal analysis of the legislation and its consequences.

-Greyson

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