Tell your MP – RE: Canadian DMCA

David Gluzman June 13th, 2008

After months of hesitation, Industry Minister Jim Prentice has finally revealed his re-write of Canada’s rules of copyright. As expected, the bill contains major concessions to the American entertainment industry. Prentice’s bill forbids Canadians from engaging in ordinary practices such as ripping DVDs onto video iPods, unlocking digital phones for use with a competitor’s services, and paves the road for US-style consumer lawsuits for file-sharing. Tell your MP to represent you in the forthcoming copyright debate, and stop Prentice from steamrolling a bill that’s worse than America’s DMCA through Parliament without listening to Canadian voices.

Takes 2 minutes!

  • Well here’s what I’m sending to Lee Richardson…

    Mr. Lee Richardson
    Suite 105,
    1410 11th Ave. SW
    Calgary, Alberta
    T3C 0M8
    Tel: (403) 244-1880
    Fax: (403) 245-3468

    Dear Lee Richardson,

    As a 37 year old software programmer, I’d like to share with you a concern I have with the new Canadian copyright bill (C-61).

    It appears this bill denies citizens the right to circumvent copy protection measures, and bans any tools used to circumvent copy protection.

    I wrote Jim Prentice in December of 2007 to express my concern with getting the government involved in a technological battle. While the legislation appears to allow citizens to time-shift and backup media, it only does so when no counter measures have been taken. So, if a “lock” has been placed on digital content, these rights suddenly dissipate.

    Digital locks do not work. They have never worked. There are easy locks to pick, and hard locks to pick. But they are always broken eventually.

    I admire the creators of BluRay, iPod and anyone who can make a consumer device which can withstand anything more than a casual attack. And indeed, some devices can withstand an attack for years: The PS/3 and X-Box 360 have not suffered from the same levels of software piracy from which the PS/2 and original X-Box did. Such success is due to massive R&D and lessons learned from their earlier versions.

    But such success on behalf of Sony and Microsoft is because they put in effort to make their systems harder to crack. They didn’t put a crappy little lock on their game systems, they worked to make them more secure. While I personally think DRM is a poor investment (as it makes a company’s products less attractive to consumers), if a company wants to spend the R&D on DRM… well it’s their money.

    The scenario I’d hate to see, is that of a media company executing poor copy protection which can be easily broken, and then the Canadian government is called in to enforce it. Such poor copy protection could be found on HD DVD, where a few lines of code and the key “09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0” were all that was needed to break the protection. Such shoddy protection is the norm, not the exception. And C-61 protects both equally.

    I don’t expect the Canadian government to try determine which copy protection schemes are strong enough to be worthy of federal protection. I expect you to recognize as a Conservative, this is an area where government intervention is not required.

    I fully support any efforts to stop sales of pirated content. Its the right of any manufacturer to use DRM in their hardware, and any media company to prevent copying of their works. I write software. I’d like to receive income for every copy of my apps being used. And if I found someone selling pirated copies of my software, I’d happily take them to court. But if I employed copy protection on my software, I know the same tools which would be ultimately be used to defeat my copy protection are also tools used to reverse engineer, understand, and ultimately develop more software.

    Such distinctions between programming tools, network troubleshooting tools and hacking tools are not easy to make. Nor is it easy to define exactly what constitutes copy protection… I can whip up something in 10 minutes which can be broken in 5. Before C-61 is passed, I hope you find time to investigate how messy and complicated this will ultimately become, instead of finding out after it is passed.

    Thank you for your time,
    -Gordon McDowell [contact info removed]

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  • Good letter, it’s well written and appeals to common sense.

  • I got a reply:

    lation is a made-in-Canada approach that balances the needs of Canadian consumers and copyright owners, promoting culture, innovation and competition in the digital age.

    What does Bill C-61 mean to Canadians?
    Specifically, it includes measures that would:

    * expressly allow you to record TV shows for later viewing; copy legally purchased music onto other devices, such as MP3 players or cell phones; make back-up copies of legally purchased books, newspapers, videocassettes and photographs onto devices you own; and limit the “statutory damages” a court could award for all private use copyright infringements;

    * implement new rights and protections for copyright holders, tailored to the Internet, to encourage participation in the online economy, as well as stronger legal remedies to address Internet piracy

    * clarify the roles and responsibilities of Internet Service Providers related to the copyright content flowing over their network facilities

    * provide photographers with the same rights as other creators

    What Bill C-61 does not do:

    * it would not empower border agents to seize your iPod or laptop at border crossings, contrary to recent public speculation

    What this Bill is not:

    * it is not a mirror image of U.S. copyright laws. Our Bill is made-in-Canada with different exceptions for educators, consumers and others and brings us into line with more than 60 countries including Japan, France, Germany and Australia

    Bill C-61 was introduced in the Commons on June 12, 2008 by Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner.

    For more information, please visit the Copyright Reform Process website at

    Thank you for sharing your views on this important matter.

    The Honourable Josée Verner
    Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages and Minister for La Francophonie

    The Honourable Jim Prentice
    Minister of Industry

  • Boiler plate, but at least you got a response.

    Various emails and phone calls to my ex-MLA (NDP in Ontario) went completely unanswered.