Saturday, June 30, 2012

Legal copying now illegal in Canada

In case you missed it, Canada's conservatives recently passed the new copyright reform bill. Micheal Geist, Canada's foremost copyright blogger, says it has one of the most restrictive approaches to digital locks in the world, since you aren't allowed to break digital locks without authorization even if it's for a reasonable or legitimate purpose, and even if copyright is not involved. For example, copying a small video clip from any commercial DVD is now illegal in Canada (just as it is in the U.S., by the way), even though it would otherwise be legal under "fair dealing". Likewise, using an unauthorized DVD player that can skip start-of-disc commercials or ignore region coding (the number on the disc that only authorizes playback in "Mexico/South America", for example) is illegal. An example that is not copyright-related would be hacking a digital device to give it more abilities than it comes with; this could become illegal if the manufacturer makes any attempt, however feeble, to prevent such usage with a digital lock.

The digital lock parts of the bill were widely condemned by almost everyone outside music and film industry circles, but on the plus side, Micheal says that the government didn't completely ignore citizen voices, except perhaps on the digital lock issue (which, however, has always been the most important issue). Also on the plus side, citizen's groups delayed the DRM (digital lock) law by as much as 10 years. That's good, because it means Canadians became accustomed to having freedom, which will make it a little harder for the government to successfully take it away.

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