What happened to Canada’s #TPP Consultation?

 
The Trudeau government won’t be pressured by the Conservatives or business lobbies into ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal until the public has been consulted about it, says Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.

She told Conservative trade critic Gerry Ritz in the Commons that the deal is not even open yet for ratification or a signature. A tentative agreement was reached among 12 countries during the Oct. 19 election campaign.

Trade experts have said the TPP deal, which hinges on U.S. congressional approval, likely won’t have to be approved until 2017.

The Liberal government supports free trade, Freeland said. “We understand that on a deal this big, it is essential to consult Canadians and have a full parliamentary debate.” The Liberals have yet to indicate how they plan to consult the public.

Conservatives call on Liberals to move forward on TPP

Did I miss something? Because suddenly Ms. Freeland is saying:

   
Canada Will Sign TPP Deal, But That Doesn’t Mean It’ll Ratify It: Freeland

“It is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns,” Freeland wrote.”Many Canadians still have not made up their minds and many more still have questions.”

Um. Well, of course Canadians have concerns and questions… although it’s been in negotiation for 5 years, it’s been in secret– well, at least to most Canadians, citizens and parliamentarians alike. But while we are all scrambling to catch up with this, big industry has been not only involved but fully informed from the start. They’ve had years to study and influence the content of the TPP. But for the rest of Canada? We’ve been given no opportunity at all to influence the thing, it’s thousands of pages long, it’s only just been made public and we have been presented with an ultimatum. Either Canada can sign on to the TPP as is, or we can pass.

While it’s true the new Liberal government did not negotiate this deal, the Conservative Party that did continues to support it, its current leader claims:

  
 “The Trans-Pacific Partnership offers huge opportunities.” —Rona Ambrose

The reality is that it doesn’t actually matter which government negotiated the TPP, if Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government signs the TPP, it will bear the brunt of the responsibility for the thing. And I have yet to hear any evidence that this agreement will be beneficial to Canada.  Oh, sure, I have no doubt Ms. Ambrose is correct–there will be enormous opportunities to be had by signing the TPP. Just none of them will benefit the public good. If Canada signs the TPP, we will be on the hook.  The government that signs it will effectively abdicating our sovereign power to unaccountable corporate tribunals (via ISDS)

Michael Geist talks about TPP at CIGIBut Michael Geist disagrees.  Michael is the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University, and he’ so concerned about the TPP that he’s been blogging a daily series about its many pitfalls:

The Trouble With the TPP

If that’s not enough, we know Jim Balsillie fears TPP could cost Canada billions and become worst-ever policy move

And then there’s the just released Tufts’ Global Development and Environment Institute report which estimates “the 12 countries involved in the proposed free trade deal would lose a net total of 771,000 jobs in the 10 years after the deal comes into force.

All of this raises many many questions.  All the evidence I’ve seen suggests signing the TPP will cause actual harm to Canada, so I can see no good reason to sign the thing. And besides, didn’t we just vote out the government that got us into this spot?  Didn’t we vote for real change?

And what happened to the promised consultations?

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Elizabeth May on Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act #C11

Copyright "c" with Maple Leaf

Because I’m a writer, copyright is a huge concern for me, so I’ve blogged pretty extensively about the dangerous changes Bill C-11 will make to Canadian copyright law in my personal blog. In today’s world, however, since copyright law’s been extended to blanket pretty much all of our culture, and Bill C-11 will extend its reach into areas of property and technology, it no longer just effects writers or creators, but all of us.

I was quite impressed with Green Party leader Elizabeth May’s valient attempt to challenge Bill C-11. If we had a different sort of electoral system that promoted co-operation instead of opposition, members of the ruling political party might have been able to listen to Ms. May’s words and perhaps even be swayed by them, for the good of the nation.

Although the government couldn’t/wouldn’t listen, what she said is well worth repeating.

Ms.  May wearing a cowboy hat, on the radio

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for the second time to Bill C-11, an act to amend the Copyright Act. The first time I had the occasion to speak to the bill was at second reading, on November 22 last year. I had hoped at that time we would see significant improvements made to the bill through the committee process.

“There have been several tries at amending copyright law. The first attempt to bring copyright law into the digital age was made back in 2005 by the previous Liberal government. Subsequent bills were brought forward, most recently, Bill C-32, which is what we see now, pretty much unchanged, as Bill C-11. In the process between the previous Liberal government’s attempt in 2005 and the bill presented by the current Conservative majority government, we have seen a leaning toward the rights primarily of U.S.-based entertainment industries.

“I am not a member of the parliamentary committees, and I certainly am not making that point to complain. I understand my position here as leader of the Green Party of Canada. The Green Party is a recognized party in the House, but my rights, obligations and opportunities are closely aligned with those I would have had if I had been an independent member, a member of no party at all. Strangely enough, that gives me superior abilities at report stage to bring forward amendments that are substantive, which I could not have brought forward today had I been a member of the committee.

“With that small digression I will just mention that although I am not a member of the committee, I tracked very closely what occurred at committee. Thanks to the able assistance of the wonderful young people who work on my team, and I am very grateful for their help, I was able to carefully monitor the evidence and review the testimony of expert witnesses who came before the committee. It was very compelling testimony from very knowledgeable experts in the field of copyright law in the digital age, which admittedly is a complex field.

“One of those experts who is often cited and has made valiant efforts to see this legislation improved is one of the country’s leading experts, Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa. He has been saying for some time, and I invoked his words when I first spoke to this bill at second reading, that the bill was “flawed but fixable”.

“We had a chance to fix it at committee and we did not. It is my hope that the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage, who I think deserves a lot of credit for the bulk of what he has done on this legislation, will allow Conservative Party members to consider favourably amendments being put forward now so that the bill, when passed, will not just be new copyright legislation, but will be excellent copyright legislation. We have that possibility but we will need amendments to get there.

“The 18 amendments that I am putting forward today fall into two general areas. The Speaker has grouped them as such, and I recognize that, but I propose to speak to both groups at once. The two areas are to improve the clarity around the term “fair dealing”, particularly in relation to the new insertion of educational provisions, and to address the overly onerous provisions to protect material against digital locks. Digital locks are referred to in the law as technological protection measures, TPMs.

“I propose to try to explain these in layman’s language in the next few minutes to make sure they have a fair chance of being accepted by other members of the House who, like me, were not on the committee, but perhaps, unlike me, were not following the evidence as closely.

“Fair dealing” is a very straightforward term, but it does not have the meaning one may think. “Dealing” sounds as though we are making a deal with someone. This is basically copyright law, so we are asking whether the way one uses someone else’s creative work is fair. We have a lot of case law on fair dealing. We cannot define what it is or is not. It is not a question of being able to quote a paragraph or a page and acknowledge who the author was. In certain circumstances we could quote a page, and in other circumstances we cannot quote a paragraph. It depends on what the purpose and intent is and whether the intent infringes the creator’s rights under copyright law.

“In the concept of whether one is using someone else’s creative work fairly, we have changes in the legislation which, for the most part, are quite good. We are now saying one can use someone else’s work if the purpose is for parody or satire. Those words are not creating any problems for us today at report stage.

“However, the government threw in “education, parody or satire”, and the use of the word “education” does create some concern, primarily because “education”, as a term or exception under copyright use under fair dealing, has not been previously defined in the courts. It could lead to significant litigation to expand or narrow the meaning in ways that would be prejudicial to the average person who wants to use the material. Given that those people who might want to change the law in ways that restrict consumer access and normal opportunities to use materials are those with the greatest and the deepest pockets to go to court to prove this, it seems that down the road we might want to improve the way the bill currently reads and to create an opportunity by regulation for the Governor in Council to provide a definition of “education”, which is currently not in the bill, in order to leave that flexibility in place down the road. That is what my Motion No. 3 stands for: that the Governor in Council may make regulations defining “education”.

“This very specific amendment comes from testimony by Giuseppina D’Agostino, a professor in intellectual property at Ogoode Hall Law School. She also teaches at York University. Back in 2010, when this legislation was Bill C-32, the comment that Professor D’Agostino made to explain this amendment was this:

“This would allow for a more evidence-based approach and allow government departments with expertise to helpfully collect evidence and be specific on what they need to cure by legislation, and to be nimble and flexible in making adjustments to copyright problems in the educational sector as they arise from time to time.

“That is all I propose to say on fair dealing. It is a big topic, but I want to move on to the question of digital locks. Most of my amendments relate to this problem.

“Digital locks make sense. The whole scheme of this legislation is about protecting the rights of a creator and balancing the rights of the creator with the rights of the consumer.

“This legislation attempts to bring Canadian law up to speed with the international obligations that Canada has undertaken through what is generally called the WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, copyright treaty.

“The problem I have with Bill C-11 is that it extends well beyond WIPO requirements; in fact, the scheme it would create would be among the most restrictive schemes anywhere in the world. The plain common sense explanation of this is to imagine that an individual has the right to put on a lock on something to protect it if that individual has the right to do so. No one has a right to break the lock if that is the person’s property, and getting through that lock is the same as stealing.

“However, we have exceptions in the bill that say people’s intellectual property can be used for creative purposes, for satire and for parody.

“What if the individual does not have the right to lock it away? Under this legislation, breaking the lock would still be illegal.

“It was explained well by John Lutz of the Canadian Historical Association when he was testifying about previous Bill C-32 before committee. He said that the new law brings copyright legislation last amended in 1997 into the digital age: “Consumers will, for example, be able to make private copies of digital works to carry on different devices like an iPod, a smart phone or a laptop without breaking copyright. There is, however, one important exception, and that is if the vendor does not want you to make a copy. All a vendor has to do is make otherwise legal uses illegal is put a digital lock on it. A digital lock…”, and he goes on to describe it.

“This legislation not only indicates that a digital lock cannot be broken but also indicates that it would be illegal to produce the kind of equipment or technology that would help someone break a digital lock.

“I will not go through each of my amendments one at a time. They essentially speak to the following principle: if in all other circumstances under the bill the use of the material under a digital lock would be legal, an individual should be allowed to break the digital lock. A digital lock should not trump all other rights under the bill when it is fair dealing, when it is otherwise appropriate and someone wants to get access to that material.

“It could be as simple as a mistake I once made in Amsterdam: I bought a movie that I really wanted to watch and when I arrived back in Canada I could not watch it. I still cannot see it.

“I ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage to consider these circumstances in which no one has any intention of breaking copyright. They just want to be able to view or access something that they normally would have a legal right to do. Digital locks should not trump all other rights.

“I commend the Minister of Canadian Heritage for his hard work. I ask him to please consider amendments at report stage to improve this legislation.”

Elizabeth May: Copyright Modernization Act (Bill C-11)

The Conservative Government passed Bill C-11 without accepting amendments from any other party.

Although passed, Canada’s new Copyright Law is not yet in force.


Image Credits

Elizabeth May was photographed by itzafineday and released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License

This is a Poll … A WHAT? … A Poll!

Our government is in the midst of making a law called Bill C-11, the “Copyright Modernization Act”, which will have serious consequences to all of us. But I’m wondering: how many of us actually understand what it is all about?

All the Canadians who responded to the government’s copyright consultation have some idea of the importance of the issue. The people who read Michael Geist, Russell McOrmond’s Digital Copyright Canada, ZeroPaid, p2pnet, itworld, Tech Dirt or Boing Boing will know something about it. If you make a living from one of Canada’s many copyright collectives or from the mainstream CRIA, RIAA or MPAA — you’ll probably know the company line and will have some understanding of what its all about. There are even some creators — the people who create the work that is “protected” by copyright — who understand the issues.

But I’m wondering if most Canadians are tired of hearing about copyright law it, or because they have no idea what it’s really about. This matters because the changes to Canada’s copyright law will effect the lives of every Canadian, not just those involved in the copyright industry.

You may recall reading how much I hate polls. But the polls I hate are those used as marketing rather than for information gathering. I want to gather information for that last few posts I will be writing before the government passes Bill C-11. And a poll seems the best way to proceed. I’m putting polls anywhere I can to find out if my assumption that most Canadians have been left out of the loop is correct. So I hope you’ll help me out here by answer my three little questions. And by the weekend I’ll write an article incorporating the results.

And now you can listen to Jesse Brown’s Audio Podcast #127: Digital Locks have Nothing to do with Copyright

WikiLeaks Cable dictates Canadian Copyright Law C-32

Canadian DMCA
Many Canadians had strong suspicions about the similarity between the Liberal Bill C-60 and the Conservative Bill C-61.

The overwhelming response from the vast majority of Copyright Consultation respondents indicated Canadians were opposed to TPM/DRM (Technical Protection Measures/Digital Rights Management) or “digitial locks”. Digital locks prevent users from using the media and devices the way they want to.

In spite of that, when Bill C-32 was tabled, TPM or “digital locks” was the most over-riding element, and made circumventing digital locks illegal. Even of we are legally entitled to access the content, under C-32 we would be breaking the law to bypass the digital lock.

This is the part that most upset me, as a writer, because this could remove my right as an author to distribute my creative work as I see fit. TPM/DRM places control of digital distribution in the hands of corporations. This law would have allowed manufacturers to use TPM to prevent consumers from accessing free material we are legally entitled to access on our laptops, dvds, cell phones and ipads etc.

If Bill C-32 had passed as is, Canada would most certainly have seen digital locks added to all digital devices, allowing corporate control of our culture.

WikiLeaks Cables Released

WikiLeaks logo

At last, WikiLeaks has released a batch of cablegate cables revealing the truth behind the conditions of so-called Canadian “copyright reform” saga.

A cable originating in the office of the U.S. Secretary of State is a blueprint for the copyright legislation the Canadian Government was expected to pass:

Prohibition of manufacturing and trafficking in technological
protection measure (TPM) circumvention devices as an offense
separate from copyright infringement;

Prohibition of circumvention of TPMs that control access to
works (quote access controls unquote);

Deterrent penalties against unauthorized circumvention —
both civil and criminal;

If there are any exceptions to TPM or rights management
information (RMI) liability, the exceptions should be clearly
enumerated and narrow in scope;

A system of protections and obligations for ISPs that
shelters them from certain liability, reduces and prevents
copyright infringement on the Internet and provides
incentives for ISPs to work cooperatively with copyright
owners.

09STATE92113, TALKING POINTS ON COPYRIGHT LEGISLATION FOR USE WITH GOC

Well, would you look at that. The most contentious issues — the issues objected to by Canadians — all come from the United States. And all the while, our government insisted that Bill C-32 was a “made-in-Canada” solution.

So, what would be Canada’s reward for making copyright law beneficial to the US at the expense of the Canadian public interest?

— (If needed) As Ambassador Kirk indicated in April, USTR is
prepared to reopen the USG interagency process to reassess
Canada,s placement on the Special 301 list if Canada enacts
adequate legislation.

09STATE92113, TALKING POINTS ON COPYRIGHT LEGISLATION FOR USE WITH GOC
red maple leaf graphic

selling out Canada

The “prize” Canada might receive for suborning Canadian Sovereignty in favor of American demands is that if we enact “adequate” legislation – legislation that suits American needs over our own – the “USTR is prepared to reopen the USG interagency process to reassess Canada,s placement on the Special 301 list.”

Or, in other words, all Canada has to do is make the laws the United States tells us to make, and then the USTR might stop lying about Canada, by placing Canada on the spurious USTR Watch List.

(And where was the “watchdog press”?)

Other cables recently released by WikiLeaks have clearly shown that Canada was only placed on the USTR Watch List in order to bully us into passing copyright law favorable to US special interests.

Ironically, Canada’s specious inclusion on the USTR Watch List has been a huge contributing factor in exposing the USTR Watch List for the fraud it is. Since the American record of copyright infringement is worse than ours, the United States should be listed there before Canada. The WatchList has been used against other countries around the world in just this way.

Clearly, Canada don’t need no stinkin’ DMCA.

As we approach the 41st Canadian Election, Canadians should reflect on the fact that

both Conservative and LiberalGovernments have proven

their willingness to make copyright law harmful to Canadian interests

to appease our American neighbors.

Oh! Canada, indeed.

Please vote on Monday in the Federal Election.

Don’t vote strategically if there is a candidate you believe in.  If we don’t start voting for what we want, we will never get it.

The only Canadian political parties opposed to electoral reform are the Conservative and Liberal parties. Canada has other choices.  Visit the Elections Canada site to see what choices are available in your riding.

Flag on the left with bright sky

Bill C-32 and the Environment

AT

One of the brilliant online activists I “subscribe to” on Identi.ca and “follow” on twitter is Techrights founder Dr. Roy Schestowitz.

Roy passed along the link to this excellent The Story of Stuff video:
The Story of Electronics:
Why ‘Designed for the Dump’ is toxic for people and the planet

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard image features Annie Leonard photo holding ipod is integrated with black and white line drawing of Stuff

Because an increasing number of people use GNU/Linux operating systems, or simply resist using the proprietary Flash software, I’ve made a tinyogg conversion which I’ve hosted on my website here: The Story of Electronics – OGG conversion

You can read more of what Ms. Leonard has to say in her
The Huffington Post piece, or read what Geek Dad had to say in Wired about Annie Leonard’s latest film.

Find out more about Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project including steps that we can take to get involved on her website.

I think that this film is brilliant in its simplicity; it explains exactly what is wrong with what Annie Leonard calls the Electronics industry’s “Designed for the Dump” strategy.
They try to make this sound palatable by calling it “planned obsolescence”.

Deliberately manufacturing short lived physical materiel is not environmentally sustainable.

Bill C-32 legislates stuff to the Dump

Canadian DMCA
This Canadian DMCA will be WORSE than the American DMCA

Bill C-32, the so-called “Copyright Modernization Act,” has finished Second Reading and is in committee.

In spite of near universal opposition to this legislation which continues many bad elements first seen in its predecessors, Bill C-60 and C-61, the draft Bill C-32 ignores the majority of citizen input provided through the 2009 Copyright Consultation.

Michael Geist told Jesse Brown Bill C-32 will probably pass this time in the November 9th TVO Search Engine podcast.

But as bad as the American DMCA is, Bill C-32, the Canadian version will be much worse.

The DMCA does not make any aspect of their Fair Use regime subservient to technical measures, making the DMCA closer to the intent of the 1996 WIPO treaties to tie TPMs to infringing activities than C-32.

Russell McOrmond, Bill C-32 Frequently Asked Questions

My biggest problem with Bill C-32 as written is that it makes it illegal to circumvent “digital locks,” which are often called DRM (Digital Rights Management) or TPM (Technical Protection Measures), this latter being the language favored by Bill C-32. These “digital locks” are placed on our media and devices by manufacturers to control how we consumers can use the digital media and devices.

Q: How does “The Story of Electronics” tie in to the draft Canadian Bill C-32?

A: Making repair and recycling illegal will legislate Electronics to the Dump

By making circumvention of digital locks illegal for any purpose, electronics and media that still work, or that could be made to work, will now be legally consigned to the dump. Format shifting, recycling and repair of electronics with digital locks will be illegal.

Digital Locks prevent format shifting.

Unlike videotape, DVDs will play in any DVD player. At least until manufacturers add region encoding (digital locks/DRM/TPM).   When a Florida company shipped me a European DVD instead of the region 1 DVD that I would have been able to play on a Canadian DVD player, for me the DVD was garbage. I couldn’t play it the first time.

The company was aware that it was an error and shipped me a new copy of the DVD that was Region 1, so I wasn’t out of pocket. (They did not want the DVD back.) But the environment was.

When people move geographical locations if they move to a different “DVD region,” suddenly all their old technology and media can no longer be used because of digital locks. The ONLY reason that this is so is because of the digital locks applied by the manufacturer. Their idea is, as always, to sell more stuff. Wringing extra money from the consumer.

Consumers want to format shift, again for personal use, so that they can access their legally purchased content on their different devices.

When media and the devices we play it on become obsolete they proliferate in our dumps.

Digital Locks prevent us from repairing problems caused by DRM/TPM

Nobody seems to talk about the fact that the addition of digital locks/DRM/TPM quite often makes our media and devices not work. Ever had trouble playing your home burned home movie DVD in your DVD player. Or your grandmother’s DVD player? How about burning home movie DVDs at all.

Chances are that your digital stuff doesn’t work/is broken BECAUSE of digital locks. DRM. TPM,

If Bill C-32 passes as is, it will be illegal to fix it.

line drawing of a fat screen TV or monitor in a blue box

reusing, recycling

I foolishly bought an HP bubble printer without realizing the ink cartridges have DRM. It doesn’t matter how much ink is actually left in the cartridge, my cartridges are empty when the digital locks say they are. Which means, among other things, that I can’t save money and the environment by refilling them.

But I expect that refilling printer toner cartridges that have TPM will be illegal under Bill C-32 too.

No one is talking about this. Are they copyright issues? They should not be. But it once circumventing digital locks becomes illegal across the board I would expect they would be covered by Bill C-32.

Then there are all the OTHER uses of digital technology. Digital elements exist in refrigerators and cars, not just music and movies. If there aren’t TPMs on these things now, there will be once Bill C-32 becomes law. Because if circumventing digital locks is illegal, manufacturers would be foolish not to put digital locks on anything they can.

Which would be an even worse environmental catastrophe. Governments should not be legislating anti-interoperability.   For the good of the environment.

Canada’s technology will not just be

“Designed For The Dump”

but

“Legislated To The Dump”

by Bill C-32

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

[[Note to Malcolm Gladwell: yes Malcolm, there are online activists, and you know what? They do good work!]



The Story of Stuff Project’s “The Story of Electronics” is licensed under a Creative Commons BY NC ND license

Bill C-32 can be found online,
as can Digital Copyright Canada’s: Bill C-32 Frequently Asked Questions

The evolution of @mpjamesmoore

First he was the iPod Minister.

Our Minister of Heritage James Moore presented himself as tech savvy with a twitter account and an iPod.

A thought: why not wait and actually *read* the legislation first before you pass judgement?
Tweeting my concerns about the impending copyright legislation got me this Twitter private message.

Seems I was right to be concerned. After holding a Canada wide Copyright Consultation which brought the unprecedented response of more than 8,000 mostly thoughtful submissions from Canadians, it appears that our Heritage Minister James Moore chose to ignore the overwhelming majority of Canadian responses which very clearly expressed a resounding “NO” to digital locks.

The draft legislation introduced into the legislature this year is misleadingly called “Bill C-32 The Copyright Modernization Act” but more accurately known to Canadians as the “Canadian DMCA” because it appears cut and pasted from the American DMCA. Ironically the American DMCA has been tempered over the last twelve years by citizen challenges, so the comparative harshness of the Canadian DMCA will seriously put Canadians at a disadvantage.

Then he was the iPadlock Minister.

Sadly this young politician doesn’t seem to handle opposition very well. He’s been known to use phrases like “radical extremists” about people who don’t share his views. The other thing that is quite disturbing is the fact that although @mpjamesmoore is tweeting as part of his job as our elected Minister of Heritage, he has taken to blocking citizens who disagree with him from “following him” on twitter.

In this private message @mpjamesmoore said Anyone can read my RSS feed @ www.jamesmoore.org If I don't want endless spam and/or lies and/pr smears and/or hate mail, yes, I will block
Tweeting about @mpjamesmoore blocking @russellmcormond I received this private Twitter message.

I was shocked by this second direct message from @james moore because none of the things he alludes to could possibly be attributable to @russellmcOrmond. I only know Russell McOrmond from his words that I’ve read and heard online, and his online presence is eminently reasonable. That @mpjamesmoore would imply such things about citizens in private Twitter messages as disturbing than his “radical extremist” faux pas.

But now he’s apparently the i-can’t-hear-you Minister

The political cartoon my brother posted on his blog The Many Rants of Larry Russwurm: “James Moore gets Cartoond” is quite funny but frighteningly apt.   It would have been my laugh of the day were it not for the fact that Canadians believe we live in a democracy. That’s supposed to mean that our elected representatives are public servants who work for us.

In particular government Ministers are supposed to represent all the citizens of Canada, not just the ones who agree with them.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Are PDFs DRM?

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and TPM stands for Technical Protection Measures. Both of these are terms for “digital locks”. Digital Locks allow the manufacturer to control their product after we have bought them. Personally, I would think that a digital lock should be illegal, because once I buy something, I own it. But that’s another article.

Maple Leaf that says "Oh! Canada"

The Canadian DMCA has just been tabled by the Conservative government. The main provision of Bill C-32 the so-called “Copyright Modernization Act” that pretty much everyone agrees is bad is that the resulting law will make circumvention of digital locks illegal.

Which got me thinking about PDFs. A PDF is a technical protection of content locked in a digital format.

I used to be simply annoyed by PDF files. If I am getting information online, I don’t think it should be necessary to download special software in order to read it. So unless I really want the information badly, I won’t. And then I won’t use the Adobe reader which alwasy seems to have security warnings about all the ways Adobe Readers allow malware to get into our computers. How do computer viruses spread? By putting insecure things in our computers.

Everyone everywhere on the internet can read files in html without having to put software they don’t want on their computer. That’s what we see when we look at web pagees, or blogs or email.

I recently learned that the reason PDFs exist is to lock the document format for printing. So really, the only reason to put your information into a PDF file is to send it to a printer. It is not the right choice for disseminating online information.

If the information is really important to me, I will use the PDF reader I have. So it is possible for me to deconstruct important information like say an ACTA leak into html so that people can read it Shine a Light on ACTA: A.C.T.A. Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Unlocked Then the information can also be indexed by search engines.

But the question is:

Is a PDF DRM or TPM?

The reason people put content into a PDF file is to preserve the formatting. A PDF file uses technical protection measures to preserve the formatting. Many people have software to deconstruct PDFs, dor me, if I want to circumvent a PDF’s TPM I have to do it the old fashioned way, by re-typing it.

So if they pass Bill C-32, deconstructing a PDF will be circumventing a digital lock. It will be illegal, won’t it?



P.S. Oh look, more warnings:

engadget: Adobe’s Flash and Acrobat have ‘critical’ vulnerability, may allow remote hijacking

ZD Net: Adobe warns of Flash, PDF zero-day attacks

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team: Adobe Reader and Acrobat customDictionaryOpen() and getAnnots() JavaScript vulnerabilities

ars technica: Flash security vulnerability exploited in PDFs