ARCHIVED — James David Bullis
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COPYRIGHT REFORM PROCESS
SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED REGARDING THE CONSULTATION PAPERS
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 James David Bullis received on September 16, 2001 via e-mail
Subject: Comments on the Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues
Comments on the "Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues, June 22, 2001"
I wish to specifically address section 4.2 Legal Protection of Technological Measures.
In brief, this section restricts the activities of a third party who has not violated a copyright, but has instead provided information on the technological mechanism used to enforce an agreement between the copyright holder and the consumer. This has been used in the United States to suppress valid scientific study, prohibit references to the DeCSS program on the Internet and to arrest a Russian programmer (Dmitry Sklyarov) for activities that took place (legally) on his home soil. As a software developer myself, these actions raise some very serious concerns.
Foremost, I am concerned about the restraint on my freedom of speech due this proposal. In very few cases is it illegal to say certain things (libel and yelling ‘fire' in a theater come to mind). In the US, the DMCA adds "describing a circumvention method" to that short list. It is a large step down a slippery slope.
This section encourages copyright holders to use flawed or easily circumvented protection measures and then to use the courts to suppress any comment or discussion of the short comings. Surely, this is of no benefit to society (or copyright holders) to suppress the advancement of these technologies.
Protection measures allows the copyright holder to extend control far beyond traditional copyright protections. Not only does it attempt to prevent the illegal copying of information, it allows control over how this information is used. If I do not have the appropriate legal reader (which may involve additional expense) or the publisher has not provided for the computer system I wish to use (not everyone uses the latest version MS-Windows), then I cannot legally access the material that I have paid for. Further, the legal reader may impose additional restrictions: not being able to print portions or to excerpt sections for review is typically prevented. Other legitimate uses, such as text to speech (for visibly impaired persons) is also restricted. Conceivably, I could be restricted as to what time or day I can access the material or even what portions of the material is accessible depending on who I am. I am prevented from access in the manner that I wish. Instead I must access the material in the manner that the copyright holder allows me to. Consider if a book publisher only allowed you read a book once, on Tuesdays from 3 PM to 5 PM, using only approved reading glasses. In summary, technological protection measures allow the copyright holder far to much control over how copyright material is used, including many uses traditionally accepted as ‘fair use'. Since these measures extend beyond copyright protection, then the prohibition of circumvention measures should not be a copyright issue.
Lastly, as a software developer, I am concerned that my activities can inadvertently land me afoul of the law. How can I be assured that the software I produce is not seen by somebody, somewhere as a circumvention mechanism?
James David Bullis
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