Toni Mueller

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Toni Mueller

Copyright Reform Process


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 Toni Mueller received on September 10, 2001 via e-mail

Subject: Your Copyright Bill - Please Don't

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

I write to express my grave concern regarding the extreme intellectual property provisions of the Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues (CPCDI).

These measures, based on the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), give far too much power to publishers, at the expense of indivdiuals' rights. The DMCA itself is already under legal challenge in the US, has gravely chilled scientists' and computer security researchers' freedom of expression around the world for fear of being prosecuted in the US, and resulted in the arrest of a Russian programmer. Imagine the irony that a Russian programmer needs to revert from America to Russia in order to regain his right on free speech! Would you like to find yourself in a similar position? Canada, a banned country due to govenment terrorism? That would be a heavy blow for most of us who suspected that Canada would keep up the flag on individual human rights in favour of giving away legal rights for cheap.

The CPDCI provisions, which serve no one but (largely American) corporate copyright interests, are just as overbroad as those of the DMCA. Instead of implementing this, you should be happy that you didn't yet strangle your software industry that is doutbless founded on and mostly innovated by small or medium sized enterprises. Also, strengthening the rights of publishers this way also shifts the emphasis on generating value away from making better products or otherwise innovate, towards playing tricks on consumers and legal battles, where publishers would then try to earn their money in court.

These provisions would amend the Canadian Copyright Act to ban, with few or no exceptions, software and other tools that allow copy prevention technologies to be bypassed. This would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee of freedom of speech, and similar guarantees in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, since such tools are necessary to exercise lawful uses, including fair use, reverse engineering, computer security research and many others. Imagine an Ebook that can't be made a backup of since it's copyrighted. Now imagine a head crash on your disk, too. Would you say that one should then need to buy a new Ebook? Or imagine an Ebook that can't be printed (one other pet restriction in this area). Now imagine you can't read the small type on the screen because you are visually impaired, or have no time to spend behind a screen, but would prefer a printed copy with larger typeface that you can read while supervising your little children (in a different room?). Or imagine an Ebook that wipes itself out after being read 10 times... Now you couldn't memorize all the content during your 10 times of reading it, or didn't even get through in 10 sessions... what to do, buy a new one? When perhaps the old one is "out of print"? Not, that software can't be reproduced with no significant correspondence to time, but companies tend to limit the number of copies they produce simply because they don't want that administrative overhead of keeping "old" titles online, or want to force us to buy new titles instead. While I only depicted some obvious possible courses of events, I don't claim to have this topic covered with any kind of completeness. I'm quite confident that there are other ways the now lawful use of such stuff could be restricted, and that companies will try to make it such. Ok, one more: Imagine you buy a music CD that has some copy protection on it that makes a clanging noise on your high end stereo. Not that we could expect the CD to be any cheaper than the one from last year that didn't make such a noise, and I also don't hope that old titles will come back online only because they now can be "sold" - see above.

Your statement on that stricter copyright measures are a consequence of your signing of WIPO treaties rises the question why these treaties were signed in the first place. The rights to be granted don't balance the interests, as is one declared intention on your web site. Instead, these reforms will, if enacted, tighten the grip of the industry on consumers just to squeeze more money out of the same content.

I urge you to remove these controversial and anti-freedom provisions from the CPDCI language. The DMCA is already an international debacle. Its flaws should not be imported and forced on Canadians.


Toni Mueller
(address removed)

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