Professor Geist exposes Bill C-32

This will affect us all.

Bill C-32 will have a HUGE impact on everything in Canada, not just copyright. Bill C-32 changes centuries of property law by saying Canadians no longer control the things we own.

Now, I’m certainly not a lawyer.

But Dr. Michael Geist is. Not only that, he’s the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, and a world renowned expert in the field of copyright., who has fought for sane copyright in Canada on our behalf for quite a while now.

Michael Geist thumbnail image

In a four part series, Michael Geist looks at the currently tabled supposed “modernization” of Canadian copyright law, Bill C-32.

Michael Geist’s first post Setting the Record Straight: 32 Questions and Answers on C-32’s Digital Lock Provisions, Part One focused first on Bill C-32 generally, including discussing the fact that these digital lock provisions are overkill for what is required to make Canada compliant under the WIPO treaties. My personal guess is that these provisions will pre-qualify Canada for A.C.T.A. readiness.

Michael Geist also explains how this is most probably unconstitutional as well as how it will render fair dealing nearly impossible in Canada, which would certainly put Canadian content creators at a serious disadvantage to the United States, which enjoys an extremely flexible fair use provisions under their own copyright law.

The second post deals with Bill C-32’s circumvention exceptions, Setting the Record Straight: 32 Questions and Answers on C-32’s Digital Lock Provisions, Part Two, showing how Bill C-32’s circumvention exceptions for encryption research and security testing, privacy, the visually impaired and interoperability are do NOT addressed the concerns.

Professor Geist’s third post looks at the missing exceptions, that is to say those that any rational person would include in such a law as Bill C-32:

  • “authorized circumventers” as is used in New Zealand to facilitate legal circumventions
  • companies required to unlock locked content for legal purposes
  • non-infringing access, such as accessing DVDs from other regions
  • personal uses
  • digital archiving
  • circumvention exception to protect minors (aka parental controls)
  • circumvention exception for filtering software programs
  • circumventing digital locks that become obsolete or broken
  • court cases, laws, and government documents
  • public domain (ie. out-of-copyright) works

— Michael Geist: Setting the Record Straight:
32 Questions and Answers on C-32’s Digital Lock Provisions, Part Three

In his fourth post on Bill C-32, Michael Geist explains the consumer-focused provisions in the bill that are supposed to make us happy about Bill C-32. All those provisions we are supposed to love that will clearly state what we can legally do with the media and devices we have legally purchased, that will allow consumers to:

  • legally shift our own legally purchased music from CDs to their iPods or other devices
  • make legal backup copies of most commercial DVDs we have legally purchased
  • legally record television shows
  • unlocking cellphones

are shown to be smoke and mirrors. Because all of these supposed new rights to legally shift music are:

“subject to an anti-circumvention limitation…effectively dictated by the record label who can easily remove the right by including copy-controls on the CD release (there are thousands of these kinds of CDs owned by Canadians). In fact, the anti-circumvention limitation even applies to private copies onto blank CDs. This means that consumers pay for the CD and pay the levy on a blank CD that nominally gives them the right to make a personal copy, yet violate the law if they circumvent a copy-control in order to do so.”

— Michael Geist: Setting the Record Straight:
32 Questions and Answers on C-32’s Digital Lock Provisions, Part Four

All of the provisions are subject to digital locks placed by the manufacturer on the media (including books, music or movies on CD, DVD or downloads) or the device (including our CD and DVD players, iPods, cel phones or computers). If there is DRM or TPM on anything, circumventing the digital lock is illegal.

Which means effectively all it takes is the flimsiest digital lock for Bill C-32 to make it illegal for Canadians to use the “new rights”:

  • The new right to legally shift music is subject to an anti-circumvention limitation.
  • The new backup copy provision are subject to an anti-circumvention limitation.
  • The format shifting provision is subject to an anti-circumvention limitation.
  • If there is a digital lock (often referred to as a broadcast flag) included with the broadcast, you can’t legally circumvent it in order to record the program.
  • It is currently legal in Canada to unlock a cellphone, with the primary barriers being carrier contracts and technical inability to do so, so this “right” is merely maintained.

— Michael Geist: Setting the Record Straight:
32 Questions and Answers on C-32’s Digital Lock Provisions, Part Four

Oh yes, one more thing: there is NO provision in Bill C-32 to make the manufacturers give consumers any notice regarding the limitations imposed by DRM on a consumer product.


Excuse me?

Didn’t governments — that is to say Democratic Governments — used to protect citizens?

Or is consumer protection passe in today’s world?

Canadian DMCA

Oh! Canada….

Canadian Flag

This supposed “modernization” of copyright law allows manufacturers to continue to control what we buy after we have bought it.

It will make it illegal to fix digital media and devices. And although I realize that Canada is really big, do we really have enough wide open spaces we will be able to afford to turn into the massive garbage dumps this law will generate?

Making circumvention of DRM/TPM illegal changes the concept of ownership.

If that’s the way we’re heading lets be up front about it.

If I am only renting the DVD, or the CD, we shouldn’t be paying “purchase” prices. The cost of a movie should not exceed a single dollar, and even THAT can be considered an overcharging if I’m going to have to get copies for each device, as well as get new ones every time a device becomes obsolete.

Not only that, don’t we all deserve a refund for the property we were led to believe we were purchasing, but which in fact our government says we are really only renting. Or is it leasing? Whatever it is, it certainly is not owning.

I’m only a consumer, a mom, a writer.
Don’t take my word for it, check out Michael Geist’s blog.

What kind of Canada are we making for our kids?
a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves


2 thoughts on “Professor Geist exposes Bill C-32

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