Bill C-61

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Unveiled on Friday, Bill C-61 is everything we were afraid of. It’s the American DMCA in a change of clothing. In some ways, it’s even worse.

One example is time shifting. Who hasn’t recorded a program to watch later? It’s legal, right? Not in Canada. There was no Sony versus Universal court case here to answer the question. No one was ever charged for this practise as far as I know, but the practise has never been codified in Canadian law. Word leaked out that time shifting would be legalized, but others suggested this was merely a bit of sugar to help us swallow the majority of the bill. The Conservative government can’t even get the sugar right. Time shifting is indeed legal under this proposed legislation, but failure to delete a recorded program immediately after viewing makes you a law-breaker.

Also worse are the exceptions to the restriction on circumventing DRM protection. The proposed legislation does allow for (precious few) circumstances where you can legally break copy protection, but don’t get too excited. The means by which you circumvent DRM are all illegal, whether you’re entitled to do it or not. The legal right to do it is of little use if the means are illegal.

Happily, you can transfer your CDs, to your iPod. Unless the CDs are copy protected, of course. And don’t even try to play DVDs on a Linux machine.

The government has adopted the “Made in Canada” slogan for this legislation despite the fact that it’s obviously not. Industry Minister Jim Prentice would not meet with consumer groups or the Canadian business community. He did have plenty of time to meet with the US Ambassador and US special interest groups, however. As a result, this legislation carries the unusual honour of being disliked by virtually everyone in the country.

Micheal Geist suggests what we can do to voice our disapproval. First on the list is writing your MP. It’ll be a pleasure. That reminds me, I think I need to buy envelopes…


Graphic courtesy of Gaetan Diotte.

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