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Submission from Joseph Seatter received on July 31, 2001 1:30 PM via e-mail

Subject: Comments - Government of Canada Copyright Reform


My name is Joe Seatter, I'm a software developer at Catena Networks, located in Kanata, Ontario. Before I begin, the comments I make below are mine, and don't necessarily represent the views of my employer.

The following quote it take from the web page located at this address:
on the Industry Canada web site.

"The departments believe it is now an opportune moment to initiate consultation with stakeholders on whether the Act should be amended to:

  • 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;
  • prevent the circumvention of technologies used to protect copyright material; and,
  • prohibit tampering with rights management information. "

These ammendments are dangerous if implemented improperly. While changes do have to be made to current laws in order to protect emerging technology, these ammendments could actually harm it. While I see nothing wrong with the first item, the second two have dangerous implications for computer security, and product quality.

Currently, many problems and weaknesses are only found in systems when they are attacked by third parties. Software developers have a habit of babying their code when they test it. They make sure it works, but how well isn't really obvious. If you prevent a third party from attempting to circumvent technologies designed to protect, problems with that product may never be reported, for fear of prosection. As an example, the DMCA is currently being used in the US to prosecute a Russian computer programmer who discovered a flaw in the software that protects Adobe's Acrobat documents. If he had not revealed that flaw, Adobe would not be forced to implement better security on it's products. It cannot be assumed that he is the only one who found this hole. He's simple the only one who published it. A company such as Adobe could use a copy protection scheme which is trivial to circumvent, and market their product as being secure. Anyone pointing out that it was not in fact secure would be subject to prosecution.

I would like to see an ammendment which states that simply finding a method to circumvent copy-protection on software not be a crime, but that exploiting it in order to violate a copyright is. In this way, the copyrights held by companies are protected, and consumer are protected from buying "snake-oil" products which claim to be secure, but which are not. If the DMCA were applied as to conventional products, such as automobiles, someone could sell alarm systems which would be deactivated with no trouble at all by thieves. A third party could not reveal this if they wanted to back it up with any evidence, like a demonstration of how the alarm can be deactivated. While copyrights must be protected, it must not be done at the expense of the comsumer's ability to make an informed decision about the quality of a products.

Thank you for you time,

Joe Seatter
Software Development
Catena Networks
(e-mail address removed)

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