Warren A. Layton

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Warren A. Layton

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 Warren A. Layton received on September 13, 2001 via e-mail

Subject: I oppose the proposed changes to the Canadian Copyright Act

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

Re: Intellectual Property Provisions of the Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues (CPCDI)

I am writing to you to express my concern regarding the proposed changes to the Canadian Copyright Act. I find these changes to be too similar to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States, which has, in my opinion, robbed consumers of their power while not deterring content pirates and other criminals.

The changes to the Canadian Copyright Act propose to disallow tools that allow copy prevention technologies to be bypassed. Unfortunately, this would outlaw such mundane acts as creating tapes to play in your car from a home CD player; watching movies that you have paid for on your computer (using a DVD drive under Linux, for instance); and even publishing papers detailing possible physical dangers of consumer products.

Even worse is the fact that banning reverse engineering will not hinder piracy and criminal efforts in any way. Unfortunately, reverse engineering is not part of the process of pirating content, such as DVDs. A movie pirate doesn't need to decrypt a DVD movie to copy it onto another disc. All he has to do is copy the encrypted data onto a new disc without modifying it. Meanwhile, reverse engineering may actually allow people who have legally obtained a DVD movie to watch it on their computer, as it is their right.

As for consumers, these changes will undermine their freedom of speech. In the United States, researcher Edward Felten and his colleagues at Princeton were recently prevented from presenting their findings about insecurities in a digital watermarking process. SDMI, who was holding this competition, threatened legal action under the terms of the DMCA, despite the fact that the group never required that the researchers any non-disclosure agreements. (For more information, there is a good article in the "IEEE Spectrum" magazine, June 2001, titled "Talking About Digital Copyright").

As a consumer, these events scare me. In this case, research which could have helped improve a product and aid consumers was silenced. This is equivalent to finding a problem in my car and being sued by Ford for opening to hood to examine the cause of a strange rattling sound.

I urge you to reconsider these provisions from the CPDCI language. The United States is already receiving heavy criticism for the DMCA. Canadians should not be forced to adhere to laws that will inconvenience them or, worse, put them at risk.


Warren A. Layton
(Address removed)

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