The proposed Copryright Modernization Act is a bad idea

An edited version of this letter was published in the Edmonton Journal on Monday, June 14, 2010. I have also sent this to several MPs; the terrible French in that version had no accents.

Ce lettre est en Englais. Il discute le projet de loi C-32; Loi sur la modernisation du droit d’auteur. Les pages supplémentaire en liste sont en Englais aussi. Je pense que le projet de loi n'est pas une bone idée par-ce-que des accords de 1996 du OMPI (sur le droit d’auteur/sur les interprétations et exécutions et les phonogrammes) sont contradictoire. Un proscription contre la neutralisation des mesures techniques efficaces; en effet interdit les ordinatuers dessein générales.

The "War on infringement" is going to make the Wars on Drugs and Terror look sane. The war on copyright infringement will adversely affect every sector of the economy because every sector of the economy relies on copyrighted software or documentation. The proposed Copyright Modernization Act offers legal protection for Technological Protection Measures or "Mathematical Locks."

Digital technology is not new: copyright is already a response to faster and cheaper digital technology (the printing press) making the wholesale copying of books fast and easy. What is new is that computers operate in the mathematical domain. This means that information can be manipulated and transformed as it is copied. By operating in the mathematical domain, computers can do things impossible with discrete analog or digital devices. One example that can be seen in sports footage is the real-time painting of virtual lines or banners not actually present on the field.

The rise of faster communication and easy copying of information should lead to less restrictive, rather than more restrictive copyright law. To ensure that works enter the public domain when copyright expires, it must be possible for citizens to break any TPMs in order to copy the information as the media degrades. The rise of "software implemented inventions" suggest that copyright terms should be comparable to patent terms.

The proposed bill is a bad law because it is based on the inherently contradictory 1996 WIPO treaties that (both) state in part: Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures. . . There were some ideas integrated from the copyright consultation, but the bill is now a complicated web of loopholes and counter-loopholes.

James Phillips
Future Technological Protection Measures risk mitigation specialist
13128 26 Street NW
Edmonton AB  T5A 3Z7

Note: the term "digital locks" is confusing because the legislation is carefully worded to avoid applying only to digital technologies. For example, the Macrovision copy protection works in the analog domain and targets the Automatic Gain Control built into every VHS VCR.

Further Reading

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Edited: July 6, 2010.