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Submission from Brian M. Hunt received on August 13, 2001 10:11 AM via e-mail
Subject: Digital Copyright Act
13 August 2001
I would contest the value provided to the people of Canada by an act similar to the heavily debated American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Not only is the American act riddled in controversy, conflicting with fair use acts. their prided first amendment, and even itself, the DMCA is tainted by the will of megalomaniac corporations who influence the law to guarantee them money in the new economy, the digital information economy where there is insubstantial cost to information exchange, simply on the grounds that they have been guaranteed money in the pre-digital economy.
The circumvention of digital media protections is a contradiction in terms. There exist fair use copyright protection methods, such as public key exchange encryption, whereby a provider of information (such as music, books, movies, etc), encrypts particular media to a particular key, presumably owned by one person, and authorised by a third party (such as Verisign). This public key information exchange provides mathematical certainties of information protection, such that the person viewing a pristine version of the information can be identified and guaranteed to have compensated the copyright owners.
However, there is no prevention of copying this material to a free and open format (such as mp3, mpeg, ogg, etc.), which can be distributed on the internet. What currently lacks is the availability of legitimate sources of information on the internet, in stark spite of demand.
Furthermore, now that distribution of art and digital media such as music and books have become free, the distributors (such as the constituents of the RIAA, for example) are no longer necessary, and indeed are no longer wanted. Their efforts are merely for the preservation of their monetary income, purely at the expense of the freedom of the constituents of the countries they can influence the law within. Their motives are purely and unethically economic, and indeed they have punished the authors of music (such as Tragically Hip, Offspring, etc) for digitally publishing their music for free. I believe that the greater legal barrier is to enact a Canadian legislation that takes into account the compensation of the artists (whose very names are owned by 3rd party copyright holders) and bypass the copyright holders who provide no added value to the actual artistic work, other than perhaps advertisement, which can be acquired for nominal fees by comparison.>P>I would recommend waiting on the DMCA, as I suspect it will be significantly changed in the coming months, and possibly even repealed. The Skylarov case has already highlighted some of the contradictions with traditional American law, as well as with itself.
And although I would like to see artists and authors compensated for their work, by seeing a valid way of acquiring that work for a fee, making digital circumvention illegal does not further that scenario. How I view the information I purchase should be my choice, but government must not sponsor the rights of corporations to control what viewers are available. The consequence is that the market stagnates and I, who in particular am one of a couple hundred thousand people who use Linux in Canada, would likely never be able to legally view government sponsored protected information. (even if I could legally purchase it!) The artificial effects of the authoritarian scenario is far greater than the natural effects of permitting sporadic piracy for the people of Canada.
The enactment of digital circumvention rights is the enactment of a prison on all information controlled by those whose motivations are purely economical. A country that actively condones the constriction of information to economic bouy's and condemns fair use to its citizens is not a country in which I wish to live. Unless a Canadian DMCA equivalent is significantly more friendly to the constituents of Canada, and significantly harsher on the constituents of the unnecessary distribution oligopolies, I will vote on the value of this act by leaving this country.
I hope that you will do your best to preserve the freedoms of Canadians, their ability to view information in whatever manner necessary, even at the expense of those who produce it. If there is no market for information in the new economy, it will no longer be produced. That is what market conditions stipulate. But governments sponsoring artificial protections of information viewing does not protect information. The DeCSS case, where thousands of instances of DVD copyright circumvention have arisen, gives testament to the will of the people. (Indeed, a functional DeCSS decryption algorithm has been represented by a prime number, thereby making it the first number to be illegal in the United States, and making the US the brunt of a great many jokes about the distance between their laws and reality.)
If you would like further commentary, I would appreciate the opportunity. I greatly appreciate your attention in my ramblings, but we live in a human rights based society, not a corporate rights based society, and it is useful to stand back and see that once in a while, which I realize might be difficult from the inside.
All the best,
ps. Read Slashdot.org. They have hundreds of commentaries on this issue. http://slashdot.org/yro/01/07/28/1658234.shtml
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