Patrick Lam

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Patrick Lam



Documents received have been posted in the official language in which they were submitted. All are posted as received by the departments, however all address information has been removed.

Submission from Patrick Lam received on September 8, 2001 via e-mail

Subject: Canadian copyright reform

To Industry Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Intellectual Property Policy Directorate and other concerned agencies:

I write to express my grave concern about a proposal to ensure legal protection of technological measures via amendments to Canada's Copyright Act.

I am a Canadian graduate student carrying out my Computer Science PhD studies abroad, at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

In the United States, anti-circumvention measures are part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Under the DMCA, criminal penalties are available for those who circumvent technological measures controlling access to copyrighted work. There is an exemption for those who are conducting so-called ``encryption research'', but a researcher can first be sued and must then establish that he is conducting legitimate encryption research.

There are two significant current DMCA-related cases active in the United States. The first case concerns a professor at Princeton University, Edward Felten, and his graduate students. Felten and his students investigated some sample music watermarking technologies proposed by the Secure Digital Music Initiative. They prepared a scholarly paper analyzing the flaws in this technology and illustrating how this technology could be circumvented. This paper was accepted for presentation at an academic conference. However, Felten was obliged to withdraw his presentation and paper, as he felt that he was liable to be sued under the provisions of the DMCA. Currently, there is a suit before a United States federal judge asking him to declare that the scientists have a constitutional right to publish their research without fear of arrest or lawsuit. We are fortunate that Felten and Princeton University have the time and resources to conduct this court battle. It is easy to see that the DMCA chills legitimate scholarly inquiry.

The other significant case is that of Dmitry Sklyarov. This Russian programmer was arrested after giving a presentation, at a conference, about Adobe's flawed eBook encryption scheme. He is currently on bail, facing criminal charges and prison time, just for exposing the flaws in Adobe's software. By any reasonable measure, this is a travesty of justice.

Note that in a similar vein, Canada has benefitted from the United States' unreasonable and illogical regulations on cryptography research. The University of Waterloo has an active Centre for Applied Cryptography Research, with 17 affiliated research faculty and many more graduate students. This was helped, no doubt, by the United States' determination that cryptography software constituted strong munitions, subject to export controls. This made it difficult to conduct cryptography research in the United States, and Canada benefitted from this brain drain.

In summary, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects our right to free speech, within reasonable limits. The DMCA has already eroded this right, in a most unreasonable fashion, in the United States. It is imperative that Canada not repeat the same mistakes that the United States has already made.


Patrick Lam, M.Sc
(address removed)

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