ARCHIVED — Paul Aubin
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COPYRIGHT REFORM PROCESS
SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED REGARDING THE CONSULTATION PAPERS
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Submission from Aubin Paul received on July 24, 2001 7:33 PM via e-mail
Subject: Comments regarding Digital Copyright Law
To whom it may concern,
I read the recent document Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues with great interest, because, as a Software Developer, the issues surrounding intellectual property are a presiding concern in how I conduct my business. I wish to see stronger laws governing IP usage in Canada, however, this proposal does nothing to protect the smaller businesses, nor the individual Canadian citizen.
The core of the proposal was summarized on the main page, and I’ll use the summary as the basis for my comments.
- set out a new exclusive right in favour of copyright owners, including performers and record producers, to make their works available on-line to the public;
I believe that in a country such as Canada, no law should favour a given party, but be designed to provide equal, mutually beneficial rights to both the consumer, and the copyright holder. Currently, under US law, the DMCA (which you refer to on the site) has been shown to reduce Fair Use and First Sale rights, which is a staple of US copyright law. Similarly, they will prevent Canadian citizens from exerting any control over the software and media they purchase. I do not believe that these laws will protect corporations and small businesses from so-called “pirates” but will instead increase the demands on the average citizen who simply wants to make use of the product he legally purchased.
The fundamental problem here is that we are strengthening copyright laws, where it has not been demonstrated that this is necessary, except by the people who will benefit from it. I would be quite surprised to hear how these changes in copyright laws will provide anything but inconvenience to the consumer, while providing additional, undeserved revenue to the copyright holder.
In a free market, it is the duty of the copyright holder to provide a strong value proposition to the customer, and thus earn revenue, not create a situation wherein the consumer must pay repeatedly for the same product.
- prevent the circumvention of technologies used to protect copyright material; and,
As also demonstrated by US law, this clause would prevent academic research, and as a general case, would stifle the rights of individuals. For example, currently, individuals are permitted certain rights, If a corporation creates a “Rights Management” system that prevents the individual from exerting those rights, the individual has no legal way to exercise the rights granted to him. In effect, the corporation will have circumvented basic license rights that were guaranteed under law, and the individual would have no legal recourse. This is a chilling, and dangerous precedent, as it allows the corporation to practice illegally, while allowing the citizen no rights, not even those guaranteed in the past.
- prohibit tampering with rights management information.
Like the explanation I provided above, we must not police what private citizens do. For example, imagine a company produces a security system for a home, presumably, the system would be protected under rights management. If the individual wishes to test the actual real-world security of the system he legally purchased, he cannot, and could be prosecuted for doing so. Similarly, if copyrighted material cannot be evaluated, for example, in the context of a review, is the customer being allowed a fair chance to make a practical determination?
Of course, the general response is this: “Reviews would be protected under current fair use style laws” but therein lies the catch. The copyright holder has locked his product in such a way that the reviewer cannot legally provide samples of the text, without circumventing security, thereby making the reviewer and the reader a criminal.
The foundation of consumer-friendly publications is fully, honest disclosure. Even this would not be permitted without the copyright holders permission.
I’ll conclude with this. We should not follow the example of an American law that has already seen one academic placed in jail, and another one restrained from speaking about his own academic papers. As citizens in a democratic, free society, we should not subject individuals to laws favoring corporate interests over private ones, nor should we stifle academic, and other research.
With that, I strongly urge you to reconsider this law, and possibly produce something more evenly balanced between the interests of the individual and the copyright holders.
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