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C‑61 primer

Are you unclear about exactly what bill C‑61 might means to you? Check out Brendon Wilson’s excellent “Talking Points to Defeat Bill C‑61.” His post contains a brief description of the bill, six reasons it’s bad for you, eight things the bill will restrict you from legally doing with media you’ve purchased, and what you can do to help stop it.

Check it out if you have a few moments.

Bill C‑61

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.

Mess effect

BioWare technical producer Derek French describes the copy protection used in the Windows version of their game, Mass Effect:

Mass Effect uses SecuROM and requires an online activation for the first time that you play it. Each copy of Mass Effect comes with a CD Key which is used for this activation and for registration here at the BioWare Community. Mass Effect does not require the DVD to be in the drive in order to play, it is only for installation.

After the first activation, SecuROM requires that it re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez’d and gets banned). Just so that the 10 day thing doesn’t become abrupt, SecuROM tries its first re-check with 5 days remaining in the 10 day window. If it can’t contact the server before the 10 days are up, nothing bad happens and the game still runs. After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run.

You know what? No. A thousand times, no. Current activation schemes are bad enough in that I have to ask permission to use the product I purchased when I install it. Mass Effect would require I seek this permission every ten days. So what happens if I often use a laptop where there is no open WiFi connection available? In some circumstances, I’d be out of luck.

So, no. I don’t deny software makers are directly affected by people copying their software. But you know what? That doesn’t make it okay to inconvenience me despite my having paid the money for the software. People who download illegal copies will not have to put up with this inconvenience. I won’t pay for the ‘privilege.’

And what happens when BioWare decides the game has run its course and they’re going to shut down the activation servers? The game is dead even if I want to keep playing it. I’ve looked at games on the shelves and many clearly state that the publisher may shut down their online multi-player servers at some time in the future. This is a magnitude worse because the activation servers are required for single-player off-line play.

Like I said, no.

We’ve got this problem…you fix it

Lord, save us from the content providers. If there has ever been a large group of people who fit the description of ‘professional victims,’ it’s them.

In an on-stage interview at the Ad:Tech conference, George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer at NBC Universal, said,

If you look at studies about MP3 players, especially leading MP3 players and what portion of that content is pirated, and think about how that content gets onto that device, it has to go through a gatekeeping piece of software, which would be a convenient place to put some antipiracy measures.

Wouldn’t that be lovely? George wants iTunes start giving me a hard time about what music and video I load on my iPod. Yes, that’s the way to increase sales. At least the movie and TV people aren’t suing the same people they want to buy their products.

Not yet, anyway.


Hat tip to MacUser

Movies in China

In North America, we’ve got to get serious about pirating DVDs.

Warner Home Video is going to start selling legitimate copies of DVDs in China for just $3! The idea is to remove price as a reason to buy illicit movies. I understand this, but it doesn’t exactly give the warm fuzzies to largely law-abiding movie fans in other countries who spend five to ten times more for the same product.

Hmmmm, I wonder what Amazon.cn would charge for shipping to Canada.

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