Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Government News Your Rights Online

Canada's New DMCA Considered Worst Copyright Law 234

loconet writes "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. Among 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.' Geist provides a list of 30 things that can be done to address the issues."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Canada's New DMCA Considered Worst Copyright Law

Comments Filter:
  • by palegray.net ( 1195047 ) <philip.paradis@p ... net minus author> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:36AM (#21518439) Homepage Journal
    A you saying it's entirely possible that in the very near future Canadians might start envying American digital rights liberties? I think my head is going to explode...

    • by FredDC ( 1048502 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:52AM (#21518673)
      Canadians probably saw the DMCA laws in the US, and thought "Pfff, we can do better than that!".

      Note to Canadians: It's NOT a good idea to try to beat the US on everything!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        All humor aside, kinda makes one wonder how long draconian enforcement measures would last in Canada if (a) this sort of garbage became law, and (b) average Canadians started getting hurt by the consequences of something as simple as making a personal backup of something covered under the legislation. My bet is: not nearly as long as we in America have tolerated incidents of similar severity, but I could be very sadly mistaken. For now there's always the optimistic view, right? Time will tell, I suppose.
      • Actually, it's a common tactic, especially in a weak minority government as the case in Canada at the moment.

        Suppose you want Law X (because of some strong lobby), but you know know that the opposition (especially a discredited opposition that wants to win some points) will not allow Law X. How do you get your law passed?

        Step 1. Propose Law X+Y+Z+W where Y, Z, and W are unacceptable to everyone, including you.
        Step 2. The opposition will jump on it and demand it be changed.
        Step 3. You debate or form "a royal
    • If I were you I'd be looking forward to the fortune to be made by harnessing the energy generated by all your ancestors spinning in their graves....
  • Not news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:36AM (#21518441)
    This is hardly surprising. The current Canadian government is more interested in mirroring American political issues than doing the bidding of it's own people.
    Most of us here are embarrassed. Sorry, we'll vote better next time.
    • Re:Not news (Score:5, Funny)

      by Presto Vivace ( 882157 ) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:47AM (#21518589) Homepage Journal
      Most of us here are embarrassed. Sorry, we'll vote better next time. hey, that's our excuse!
      • Re:Not news (Score:5, Funny)

        by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:55AM (#21518713) Homepage

        Most of us here are embarrassed. Sorry, we'll vote better next time. hey, that's our excuse!

        That was our excuse and I'm pretty sure we copyrighted it (or maybe we patented it, I get so confused these days). Give it back.

        Besides, it doesn't work very well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by o'reor ( 581921 )
        Zut à la fin ! I was about to pirate^Wmake fair use of that excuse too.

        We too have elected a neocon. [independent.co.uk]. (although I don't include myself in that "we", having campaigned for years against that guy and his policies.)

      • by hyfe ( 641811 )

        Most of us here are embarrassed. Sorry, we'll vote better next time.

        hey, that's our excuse!
        Four years ago, sure.
    • Re:Not news (Score:5, Informative)

      by MrAndrews ( 456547 ) * <mcm.1889@ca> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:01PM (#21518801) Homepage
      Actually, it's not so much American politics as it is the will of American corporations... the government apparently got the entire text of the bill from the MPAA [pttbt.ca]...
      • Re:Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:16PM (#21519041) Homepage

        Actually, it's not so much American politics as it is the will of American corporations

        American politics is the will of American corporations nowadays. It was US corporations which pressured the US government to strong arm everyone in the WIPO to adopt these rules.

        The *AA's managed to influence the laws in many countries by influencing American politicians to serve their own purposes. We all lose.

        Now that they have made almost everyone else adopt these laws, they've started to lobby the government to harmonize US laws with everyone else. So, they managed to get everyone else's laws updated so they could then get domestic laws updated.

        How messed up is that?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BForrester ( 946915 )
        +1 Funny, not informative.
        RTFA that is linked. It's satire.
    • Maybe you should try RTFA or at least RTFS. This is not about bending to the will of America, it is about complying with international treaties. If the US ignored an international treaty like this you'd be on here jumping up & down about how evil America & Bush are because they ignore "international law" (a pure BS term by the way). At the same time when Canada just complies with an international treaty you don't like... all of the sudden it's "American Imperialism".
      Canada has i
      • Re:Not news (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:27PM (#21519217) Homepage

        Maybe you should try RTFA or at least RTFS. This is not about bending to the will of America, it is about complying with international treaties.

        Which American politicians pushed on the members of the WIPO after they'd been lobbied by the *AAs.

        The bending has already happened, and, yes, America were the original instigators of these measures. They insisted that everyone else adopt these laws, because they wanted to protect the American movie and music industries.

        This is not adhering to international treaties that everyone else in the world decided we needed. It was in response to pressure from American interests that it all happened in the first place.

        Bush is still an ass, but, I don't know if these measures were pushed on his watch or Clintons. But, don't pretend that American interests weren't being served when these treaties were signed.

      • Re:Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kebes ( 861706 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:36PM (#21519383) Journal

        Canada has its own laws, and its own legislature. It can choose to withdraw from the treaties (very unlikely since there a major downsides to leaving WIPO).
        Yes, this is largely about complying with international treaties which Canada has already agreed to. So, to a large extent, the complaint is that said treaties should never have been signed in the first place. The WIPO provisions for DMCA-like legislation greatly over-reaches. So, even though this treaty has been signed, it should not be followed. Signatories should "do the right thing" and repeal their support for said treaties. (Wishful thinking, I know.) Just because a treaty has been signed does not, of course, make it proper and correct.

        This is not about bending to the will of America, it is about complying with international treaties.
        Well, actually Michael Geist explains [michaelgeist.ca] the situation as:

        The new Canadian legislation will likely mirror the DMCA with strong anti-circumvention legislation - far beyond what is needed to comply with the WIPO Internet treaties - and address none of the issues that concern millions of Canadians. The Conservatives promise to eliminate the private copying levy will likely be abandoned. There will be no flexible fair dealing. No parody exception. No time shifting exception. No device shifting exception. No expanded backup provision. Nothing.
        (Emphasis added.)

        In fact, there is a concern that while legislation is being proposed to conform to treaties, the opportunity will be seized to extend the laws beyond what is strictly required. In particular, it was found [michaelgeist.ca] that some members of Canadian government are being influenced (financially, etc.) by U.S. lobbies. So, there is a real danger that overly restrictive laws get put in place in order to appease U.S. corporations (or the U.S. government, depending on how you want to look at it).

        It's not as simple as saying that Canada must comply with the treaties it has signed. As you say, the law can be implemented in various ways, and we must all do our best to insure that they are implemented in sane, democratic, and freedom-preserving ways. (Which may mean not implementing them at all.)
        • onus dissected (Score:3, Interesting)

          by epine ( 68316 )
          Wait a second on this idea that "Canada" signed a WIPO treaty. In actual fact, it was minions of a particular administration who decided to sign this treaty, with the usual avoidance of democratic process that signing international treaties entails these days, much to the disgrace of national governments everywhere. Think about this. As an individual, how often do you personally sign a legal contract, text to be supplied later, to the convenience of other parties? Yet apparently our government feels qui
      • This is not about bending to the will of America, it is about complying with international treaties.

        Let's look at the text of the treaty [wipo.int], shall we?

        Article 11
        Obligations concerning Technological Measures

        Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their rights under this Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts, in respect

    • Not likely. Harper has done very well at staying on message. He will continue to be very reassuring until he gets a majority and can do whatever he likes.

      Just like in the US, the tax and spend liberals pay down the debt, the penny-pinching conservatives buy votes. It works very well politically as long as rich people who buy media outlets get to choose the terms to describe both sides.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:37AM (#21518461)
    Kill it with fire.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sockatume ( 732728 )
      "Insightful"?! Slashdot moderation terrifies me sometimes.
    • "Kill it with fire."

      "I say nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

      Next up - Some Newfoundlander will propose "lasers - with frigging sharks on their heads, boy!"

    • by Myopic ( 18616 )
      Slashdot is good for teaching me new (or old, but new to me) internet memes: kill it with fire [urbandictionary.com].
  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:38AM (#21518491) Homepage Journal
    Geist's list of 30 things you can do [michaelgeist.ca], linked to in TFS, is pretty good, actually, no matter where you live. Even if your country already has a DMCA-like law, you can still fight for it or certain provisions of it to be repealed. Just replace the Canadian-sepcific info with the equivalents in your country.

    Furthermore, some of it just plain good advice -- only buy DRM-free music and videos, release stuff under the Creative Commons licenses. And so forth.

    Most of you are gonna be like, yeah, yeah, but no one cares. That's not true anymore. Now that the MAFIAA have become a nuisance and even public enemy #1 as far as some are concerned, the public will push for change. Like it or not, most politicians eventually cave to public opinion. After all, they need the public's support in order to get elected.
    • by Myopic ( 18616 )
      Well, no, not quite. Politicians eventually cave to votes, not public opinion. So, only people who vote, and (this is the important part) who vote their conscience get listened to. In almost all democracies, that is an exceedingly small number of people. In my democracy, fewer than half of people vote (and I'm not at all upset about that -- I am glad disinterested people don't vote), and I bet less than one in twenty actually translates their political opinions into a vote for an individual who has the same
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:40AM (#21518501)
    After that whole dollar thing, I thought we'd never be able to make fun of Canada again.

    Blame Canada! Woohoo!
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      You're blaming us because your cartel decided to an lean on our government?
      • by leoxx ( 992 )
        Yeah, but Harper and his pals don't have to tolerate being leaned upon. if they had any backbone (which we know they don't, how quickly they folded over the softwood lumber issue) they would tell the American MAFIAA to "take off, eh".
  • ... If you needed common sense. Now it's basically the 51st state since Stephen Harper [wikipedia.org] became Prime Minister (or "Steve" as GWB calls him). Too bad.

    The good news is that the song "Blame Canada" will now have some real life relevance.
  • Contact Your MP (Score:5, Informative)

    by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:45AM (#21518559)
    If you are Canadian, I encourage you to contact your member of parliament [parl.gc.ca] and make sure they know you, as a voter, want them to put the concerns of Canadian consumers before big business (especially foreign big business).
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by milescca ( 1195987 )
      I actually did that. And I got absolutely no reply. It was a short polite letter. Not even a note of receipt. But I do not think that the opposition will block this....
    • Re:Contact Your MP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dmatos ( 232892 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:34PM (#21519333)
      Until the actual bill is posted somewhere where it can be read, there is no point in doing anything. Hell, I haven't even seen a number that's been assigned to this bill.

      My MP has responded in a timely manner to even emails that I've sent him about my opposition to specific pieces of legislation. I will wait until it is actually tabled before I start doing anything. Right now, it's just FUD. "A possible bill that may be proposed might have horrible consequences for the state of copyright in Canada."
    • Here's what I wrote my MP (not knowing the details of the legislation):

      I am very concerned about the upcoming potential copyright reform legislation as discussed by Law professor Michael Geist at http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2419/125/ [michaelgeist.ca]. From what is presented, it seems that the suggested legislation will be in step with the DMCA of the US, which, as you are probably aware of, some consider rather draconian in nature.

      I have two points for your consideration that I would like to focus on:

      1) We ha

  • Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VorpalRodent ( 964940 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:49AM (#21518625)
    Does this retroactively make the once ubiquitous VCR (or DVRs) illegal? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Canada already have a tax on blank media in an effort to combat piracy (or something similar)?

    What about television news shows? If the equivalent of the concept of fair use doesn't exist, are they no longer permitted to report on issues for which they didn't do the original information gathering? What if it's a cited work?

    I admit, I only read the summary for this one, but based on the summary, it appears to be one of the first (if only) accurate Slashdot article titles ever. This truly is the worst copyright law ever conceived. For that matter, it sounds like it would take a truly stupendous lapse in the mental faculties of any politician involved in order to come to the point where one thinks that this would be a good idea.

    Well, at least there's another reminder that American politicians aren't the only stupid ones...not that such is really encouraging.

    • by Runefox ( 905204 )
      It's not to combat piracy specifically; The tax actually goes to the music/video industries, regardless of the intended use of the blank media (CD, DVD, VHS, cassette tape, MP3 players, etc are all levied regardless of intended use).

      See the concept of Private Copying Levy [wikipedia.org].
    • The article is more hype than fact, but if this is indeed that deeply based on the DMCA, I think that this whole thing only applies to anti-circumvention measures. So fair use is still valid -- provided the original media is not DRM-encumbered. The only gotcha is that not even usual fair use provisions give you permission to bypass the copy protection.
    • by leoxx ( 992 )
      it sounds like it would take a truly stupendous lapse in the mental faculties of any politician involved

      Standard operating procedure for the Conservatives.

  • by ngunton ( 460215 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:54AM (#21518699) Homepage
    That does it! I'm moving to... oh wait
  • Better not (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:55AM (#21518707) Journal
    30 things that can be done to address the issues

    I'd say better not. It'd be much better if the law would be passed in that very form. The stronger the law, the less likely it'll ever be enforced. Judges will have to impose penalties to normal people that will have just taped some program for later viewing. Probably the judge himself will have done the same. Probably most of the people voting "yes" for the law will have done the same. The situation will be really untenable, and the whole law will gather dust. If they end with a "reasonable" law, perhaps they'll end up really enforcing it.

    • That would be nice but it doesn't always work. Many laws are harsh but still on the books. Some judges/juries might go against it but not all.
      I don't know if drug laws apply but an example could be that pot is still illegal to grow and use. You might get that infrigement hurts value for both but at least value is for illegal people in the case of drugs.

      I'm still waiting for someone to use the "I Have a Dream" speech in public. It is completely illegal to say. Hopefully though you idea will make people think
  • by courteaudotbiz ( 1191083 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @11:56AM (#21518725) Homepage
    The parliament can vote whatever-the-law they want, but they still have to apply it. And the RCMP (our equivalent of the US FBI) explicitly said that they won't go after any individual for copyright infringement...

    So what's the use of a law if you're not to enforce it?
    • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:09PM (#21518903)
      So what's the use of a law if you're not to enforce it?

      Selective enforcement.

      They only enforce it when you need leverage over someone. And since practically everyone will be a rampant violator, whenever the government wants to shut somebody up, or suspect them of rape, murder, vandalism or whatever and can't prove it, they'll just charge them with 4000 counts of violation of this law, and threaten them with a billion dollar penalty.

      • Actually, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled time and again that if a law is left largely unenforced, it will be effectively void. The reasoning is exactly to prevent what you mentioned: selective enforcement.
      • I made a complaint to the officer in charge at an Indiana State Trooper Post about the bad driving habits of one of their officers.

        The officer made several turns without using proper traffic signals. The officer was *not* in pursuit nor did they have their emergency lights on.

        I asked why the officer, who consistantly *never* uses turn signals, isn't charged with a traffic violation. He dismissively responded, "People make traffic violations all the time. We don't stop them all."

        To which I replied, "Really?
    • So what's the use of a law if you're not to enforce it?
      To secure contributions from corporations this law would benefit, as well as try to prove to the public that something is actually being done about anything.
    • by Ckwop ( 707653 ) *

      It allows you to claim your adhering to the WTO treaty without actually doing so. I'd say this is a pretty smart of Canada. Everyone knows that the rules have changed on copyright. We've seen today that EMI is cutting funding to the RIAA. Not a day goes by where the landscape subtly shifts towards a more open, DRM free future.

      This move allows Canada to enjoy the benefits of the treaty without adopting any of the pain. All Canada has to do is stall sufficiently until the United States is no longer the do

    • But what happens when the media industry groups start applying pressure on politicians to get the law enforced? A statement by the RCMP doesn't have the force of law -- They could go back on that at any time.
    • The FBI isn't enforcing it here, somehow the courts let the RIAA/MPAA gather information from ISPs without a warrant. That's the big problem here.
    • That just puts off the 'crackdown' a few years while clothing it in respectability. They get this law passed, then they lobby for a new head of the Canadian enforcement division because he's 'not doing his job' and then they try to go after people at their homes to protect their racketeering business scheme.

      What use is an electronic 'copy' of a song that you haven't listened to in years? That you haven't even backed up so could go away with your hard drive when (not if!) it fails. According to the *AAs, th
    • by Myopic ( 18616 )
      I'm not sure how it works in Canada, but in my democracy the police do what they're told to do. If the Canadian parliament told the RCMP to enforce a new copyright law as the law was written, are you saying they would refuse? What kind of rogue police force do you have down* there?

      (*Canada is mostly 'down' south from where I'm sitting.)
    • by yankpop ( 931224 )

      True enough, as far as individuals are concerned. But institutions like schools, libraries, businesses etc. are a lot more risk-averse than individuals. Responsibly-run organizations will be following the law regardless of what the RCMP decide to do.


  • by CaptDeuce ( 84529 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:08PM (#21518899) Journal

    Geist provides a list of 30 things that can be done to address the issues.

    Do any of them involve the use of rubber chickens and a garrote?

  • What's most scary with these ideas is that I fear few upcoming politicians will, if they come into effect, have the guts to abolish them later. It's like eroding peoples' rights to privacy in surveillance societies. "If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?" As soon as they'd try to take something like this in effect out again, they'd get the whole media industry against them, and they usually make more noise through money than the individuals. People just tend to adapt to the new circumstances.
  • I just moved here. Now I've gotta move back.
  • by debrain ( 29228 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:25PM (#21519183) Journal
    Wasn't the woman in charge of copyright reform in the Canadian Government and in a closet relationship with a member of the Canadian Recording Industry Association?

    I can't find the reference, now, but thought it relevant. Maybe someone can find it?

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:28PM (#21519233)
    note to governments all over the world:

    the world will NOT stop if the mega-rich media moguls make a little less money in the new 'digital millennia' (god, I hate that phrase). why do they have a 'god given right' to extort money from customers but the customers get less and less fair-use rights, over time?

    lawmakers, please stop being slaves to media corporations. we all know they help pay your salary (kickbacks) but we, the real citizens, also contribute to your salary (our tax base). please don't forget you are there to serve neutrally and fairly.

  • Fair use in Canada (Score:3, Informative)

    by IPCanuck ( 1055714 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:39PM (#21519441)
    A little background may shed some light on Prof. Geist's comments. Canada has no 'fair use' law - we have 'fair dealing' which is more restrictive to users. While American copyright law describes what rights copyright owners have, and everything else is open to users, Canadian copyright law describes what narrow rights copyright users have, and everything else is restricted.

    When Prof. Geist talks about time- and format-shifting, parody, and backup exceptions, these are not exceptions to copyright that are being taken away from Canadians. These are rights that, technically, we've never had. Unlike the US, which had the famous Sony/Betamax case which legalized VCRs, we have never had that debate, and consumers would likely lose if we did. VCRs and PVRs (DVRs) are in a legal grey area at best, if not outright illegal, and yet they are in virtually every home.

    This leads to Canada lagging behind with adoption of newer technologies, due to the legally questionable situation manufacturers might find themselves in. TiVo just announced their entry into the Canadian market (officially) this month. How can our government move to reform copyright, and in the process make criminals of virtually everyone? How do we get out of our current contradictory mess of copyright law in Canada, through which downloading of copyrighted material from the internet is legal, and yet VCRs are not?

    This bill has not yet been introduced, so we cannot even read it for ourselves to confirm or deny these rumours. That said, I urge every Canadian reading this post to write (snail-mail is best!) their MP post haste and let them know that they don't want to become a criminal every time they transfer songs from their CDs to their iPod, or use their PVR/DVR or VCR. No postage necessary. You can find your MP here: http://webinfo.parl.gc.ca/MembersOfParliament/MainMPsCompleteList.aspx?TimePeriod=Current&Language=E/ [parl.gc.ca]

    Hon. Josée Verner and Hon. Jim Prentice are the ministers in charge of the copyright file. Write them too!
  • smart (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icepick72 ( 834363 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:00PM (#21519825)
    That's the beauty of Canada. This law will never pass. In fact I'd suggest that's the purpose behind the strictness of the law, to ensure it doesn't get passed and therefore everything stays the same. We've got a formula and we're using it. Maybe it's like a company that's being forced into making children's toys and they don't want to, so they always propose something absurd like the nuclear happy fun ball with pins and needles ... and their suggestions always get turned down. It's awesome.
  • Crap!Scratch running to Canada next election http://xkcd.com/180/ [xkcd.com]
  • You can send letters to senators [parl.gc.ca] and MPs [parl.gc.ca] for free (no stamps required) if you address your letters to them at the federal Parliament in Ottawa.
  • Impressive! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sta7ic ( 819090 )
    Wow! If Canada keeps this up, we might have to change the "In Soviet Russia" meme to a "In Federal Canada" meme!
  • Welcome to Canada

    This is the country that read 1984 and decided it was a reference manual.

  • by idan ( 98190 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @03:49PM (#21522685) Homepage
    The Parliament posts its order of business .. here:

    http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Pub=status&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=39&Ses=2 [parl.gc.ca]

    This supposed "Super-DMCA" is nowhere on the list of house or private members bills.
    The government never gets through its order of business anyways, so if this thing is supposed
    to get tacked onto the end of the list at some future date, it's unlikely to even
    get a reading during this session of parliament.

    Sure smells like fear-mongering, rather than anything serious..
  • by gordguide ( 307383 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @05:55PM (#21524511)
    WHAT new law?

    This hasn't even been tabled yet. There is a minority government in power; the opposition can shoot down anything it wants and there's nothing the government can do about it. It hasn't got to second reading, it hasn't got to the Senate, it's pure speculation at worst and in need of some rather improbable help at best. Most of the bills this government tabled in the last session (a year ago) died on the order paper (means nothing happened and can ever happen with them).

    Sorry, I'm calling you on this.


To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire