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Please find below my submission for Copyright Consultations.
1. As a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, a former professional engineer, and an active member of the Canadian society, copyright laws affect me directly. Throughout the course of my studies and professional career I have written, and will hopefully continue to write, various software systems and technical publications that are protected under copyright law.
While I have no choice regarding the manner in which my publications are licensed and distributed, I choose to license my software using an open source license, in particular GPL3 or a variant, as I believe that that would help spread my programs while benefiting me and the society if anyone using the software improves upon it. As such, I have an interest in seeing the open source license I chose respected.
Copyright laws affect me as a consumer as I listen to music and watch movies frequently. I own many CDs and DVDs and go to the theaters regularly, I also have a paid-subscription streaming music service membership. However when DRM interferes with my right to rightfully and legally enjoy the music and movies I own, I believe I should have the right to circumvent that protection.
Since I also use a variety of operating systems on my computers and entertainment devices, I find DRM protection extremely restrictive. For example, there is no way to watch BluRay movies on a Linux operating system (OS), which is my primary OS for technical and personal reasons, without circumventing DRM protection. Also, until very recently the same was true for DVDs. As for the lasting value of DRM protected media, many user learned that they are at the mercy of licensing servers after losing their legal right to enjoy items they had purchased (Yahoo! Music Store, Walmart music store, MSN Music) . DRM also interferes with format shifting. There is no reason in this day and age to require that a disk be present in a player or computer to play music or movies. A very convenient method is to copy the content to a computer, or a media player, connected to a TV or a Hi-Fi set. The owner can switch music tracks and movies instantaneously without having to replace disks. This also extends the life of the media since once a disk is damaged or the format becomes obsolete (Betamax, HD-DVD) the owner would have to purchase the same content yet again.
Another disadvantage of DRM is that it places unnecessary workload on the player. For example, this particular computer part ( page 48) can play unencrypted BluRay content at their maximum quality settings. However, if that content is encrypted, only lower quality versions can be played. Why should a person who legally purchased the BluRay disk pay a substantial amount to upgrade their computer when they can simply remove the encryption? Content creators have the right to use DRM protection when distributing their product. However, people legally purchasing the products should have the right to circumvent that protection especially since it could interfere with their use of it. As such, I strongly believe that DRM circumvention for non-infringing purposes should be legal. This requires that circumvention tools be legal.
2. To make copyright laws that withstand the test of time, these laws should be technology neutral. It does not matter how copyright infringement occurs, be it distribution over the Internet or sale in a store. What should be noted is the intent of the infringement: one cannot treat a person benefiting financially from copyright infringement the same way as one not benefiting from it. There should be a clear distinction between civil and criminal penalties.
In addition, The laws should be written in such a way that they cannot be abused especially for censorship as has happened repeatedly with the DMCA (, , , , and others). Also in case of abuse, sever penalties should be imposed. This is crucial for protecting basic freedoms, as without a deterrent, large organizations can silence criticism simply by filling a violation complaint that ordinary people cannot afford to fight in court.
3. To foster innovation and creativity the rights of content creators must be protected. One should not forget however that derivative works and improvements are crucial for the advancement of humanity. The protection must not be so strict such that these acts cannot flourish. Also access to information in libraries is a natural and crucial right for every person. Last but not least, out of print books and works must be accessible. If a publisher is no longer making them such, they should become in the public domain.
4. I believe the most important change to copyright needed to foster competition and investment is to write a clear an concise law that can be understood by all.
5. The kinds of changes that would best position Canada as a leader in the global economy are those which promote Canadian works worldwide, foster innovation within Canada, and facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge among Canadians and all citizens of the world.