Scott asked me for my take on the new Canadian DMCA (and make no mistake, that’s what it is).
Most people know I tend to be somewhat “copyleft” when it comes to my attitudes on copyright; I favour lower terms of private ownership of copyright for a larger public domain, flexible and relatively wide-ranging fair dealing laws, and legal systems that encourage trial use rather than full immediate purchase of intellectual property. Canadian statutory law contains no protections under fair dealing for parody or transformative use; the protections that exist for me when I use Photoshop to make Iron Man say “fuck” exist solely in jurisprudence, and every serious intellectual property law expert in the country has recommended to a number of governments that, hey, maybe we should enshrine that in statute.
Needless to say, Jim Prentice’s bill does none of these things. Michael Geist has already explained at length how the expansions for fair dealing contained within the bill (and fair dealing in general) are almost wholly nullified by the digital lock provisions. This bill makes most fair dealing illegal simply by having the original producer of content put a basic digital lock or DRM on their material. (Or, more simply, your right to make a copy of a song on a CD that you own ends the moment the CD has a simple DRM on it. The tools to evade that DRM? Illegal as of this bill.)
In short it’s a terrible, terrible bill – a sellout to American lobbyists that completely ignores all the effort Canadian citizens made earlier this year to say “hey, this is a shitty bill and we don’t want it.” With any luck, it will be voted down in Parliament. (Of course, the Harper government may go ahead and make it a confidence vote, in which case Stephane Dion will likely run from his own shadow.
Michael Geist has more, of course.