The government of Canada is preparing to attempt to bring a new DMCA-modeled copyright law in Canada in order to comply with the WIPO treaties the country signed in 1997. These treaties were also the base of the American DMCA. The new Canadian law will be even more restrictive in nature than the American version and worse than the last Canadian copyright proposal, the defeated Bill C-60. Amongst the many restrictive clauses, in this new law – as Michael Geist explains – is the total abolishment of the concept of fair use, “No parody exception. No time shifting exception. No device shifting exception. No expanded backup provision. Nothing.”. This new draconian law has the potential of reshaping the whole technology industry and leave consumers at the mercy of copyright owners. Michael Geist provides a list of 30 things that can be done to address the issue.
The Canadian government is about to bring down Canada’s version of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and it promises to be the worst copyright law in the developed world. It will contain an “anti-circumvention” clause that prohibits breaking the locks off your music and movies in order to move them to new devices or watch them after the company that made them goes out of business — and it will follow the US’s disastrous lead with the DMCA in that there will be no exceptions to the ban on circumvention, not even for parody, fair dealing, time shifting, or other legal uses.
This will be even worse than the last Canadian copyright proposal, the defeated Bill C-60.
But there’s hope. The last two Ministers who tried to push through a US-style copyright bill in Canada lost their jobs, thanks in large part to Canada’s coalition of artists, educators, archivists, and public-interest activists. Selling Canada’s digital future out to a handful of US companies is a bad career move for Canadian politicians.
Gear up for a fight in the New Year. The American record labels, in particular, are said to be well organised and ready to push this through on a fast track (even though they’ve abandoned DRM in the rest of the world, they view Canada as a weak sister they can push around).
If this law passes, it will mean that as soon as a device has any anti-copying stuff in it (say, a Vista PC, a set-top cable box, a console, an iPod, a Kindle, etc), it will be illegal for Canadians to modify it, improve it, or make products that interact with it unless they have permission from the (almost always US-based) manufacturer. This puts the whole Canadian tech industry at the mercy of the US industry, unable to innovate or start new businesses that interact with the existing pool of devices and media without getting a license from the States.
If this law passes, it will render all of the made-in-Canada exceptions to copyright for education, archiving, free speech and personal use will be irrelevant: if a technology has a lock that prohibits a use, your right to make that use falls by the wayside. Nevermind that you’ve got the right to record a show to watch later — or to record a politician’s speech so you can hold him to account later — the policeman in the device can take that right away with no appeal.
If this law passes, it will make Canada into a backwards nation, lagging behind the UK, Israel and other countries that are passing new copyright laws that dismantle the idea of maximum copyright forever and in all things.