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1. How do Canada's copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
Copyright laws directly affect all Canadians in ways they do not even realize. And they will touch us all in a very negative way if major industry players manage to have their way. I was absolutely horrified at some of the provisions proposed by C-61 which thankfully died on the order table. The American DMCA provides a perfect example of what should not be done and why.
Copyright law should serve the interest of average Canadians first, not the business models of (mostly foreign) media cartels. The rise of the internet has permitted an unprecedented degree of free communication and information sharing by ordinary people to the detriment of powerful vested interests which have served as media and information gatekeepers in the past.
"Digital locks" should not have legal protection under any circumstances. I can give many examples why.
I have seen first hand how cellular service providers can and will disable handset features that are inconvenient to their business model — i.e. disabling USB ports on mobile phones so are forced to transmit photos over their (very expensive) wireless link, and advertising how their phone can play thousands of songs, without telling you that they have disabled the ability to transfer your legally purchased music to your phone, and instead have to repurchase them from their on-line store at a premium rate. Very recently, I have had a colleague at work tell me how he purchased a phone only to discover the wireless networking feature had been disabled, no doubt to prevent users from placing VOIP calls or connecting to the internet without being tethered to the carrier's network. Naturally, these restrictions were not advertised when you signed up for the contract and purchased the phone based on advertised features. And perfectly working handsets locked to a particular carrier are useless when you change providers. Needlessly discarding electronics like that is incredibly bad for the environment yet C-61 was going to enshrine this nonsense into law?
Region coded DVDs prevent Immigrants and Canadians (many who have family connections overseas) from viewing legally purchased movies they have brought from overseas here. This includes a lot of films that are not available here at any price. This is done purely so we can be charged a higher markup than people in other designated regions. Region free DVD players should not be made illegal under any circumstances. Ironically, US president Obama gave his UK counterpart a collection of movies recently, only for him to find he couldn't play them when he got home. (Wrong region code) This nonsense must not be enshrined in law.
Digital lock laws prevent me from modifying things I have legally purchased. I have seen articles showing how game consoles can be modified to invent new products, run Linux and turned into servers, yet depending on how the laws are written and interpreted, this could net me a lengthy jail term. Imagine if automobile manufacturers were allowed to install "digital locks" on their vehicles so that they could only be serviced at a premium at the dealership where you bought the vehicle, using very expensive parts. Imagine the vehicle intentionally disabled itself unless you brought it back to the dealership for service on schedule. Imagine they did this without telling you when you purchased the vehicle. Yet printer manufacturers in the US have used the DMCA to lock out aftermarket toner refills and replacements. Do you really want to enshrine this into law?
Amazon recently made the headlines when they remotely removed copies of 1984 (can the choice be more ironic?) from readers Kindle E-Book readers. This sort of remote deletion or disabling of things I have purchased should be outright illegal, yet the former C-61 would have done the reverse — it would be illegal for me to modify my E-book reader and disable the remote deletion "feature".
HDMI connectors on modern television employ a protocol known as HDCP — (High Definition Copy Protection) that is continuously being updated. There have already been numerous cases where DVD or Blu-Ray players refused to display legally purchased content because the TV was using an earlier version of the HDCP protocol, or contains a chip where the HDCP key was intentionally revoked. There are ways around this, but C-61 would have made this illegal. As a result, your perfectly working TV ends up in a landfill somewhere, and you have to purchase another with no guarantees as to how long it will work until it's keys are intentionally obsoleted or revoked. Again, this costly insanity which is hostile to both the environment and consumer must not have any sort of legal protection.
Digital locks and EULAs are one sided contracts that can be changed by the other party at any time. I have seen cases where mandatory updates removed features or put additional restrictions on how the product or software may be used. This reminds me of a Darth Vader quote: "I am altering the Deal: Pray I do not alter it any further".
2. Boiler plate lawsuits
In the US, media cartels have launched boiler plate lawsuits for alleged file sharing, based on nothing more than an IP address. Defending against these have cost people thousands of dollars, and it is usually easier to pay up even when the evidence is scant or non existent. The vast majority of Canadians do not ever want to see that happening here, and care must be taken to ensure the door is not opened to this.
Ironically, the very artists who these middlemen claim to represent do not endorse this behavior. The Canadian Music Creators Coalition,
http://www.musiccreators.ca/wp/ have come out strongly against copyright laws that are designed to please shareholders instead of Canadians.
I know we are under strong pressure from US interests (the currently sitting US VP Joe Biden was an RIAA front man) to adopt identical laws, but this is one case where we must show some fortitude and say no. The overwhelming majority of Canadians do not want this.
Gary Cameron, P. Eng