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Feature: Government

Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

By Ian Palmer on July 10, 2008 (9:00:00 PM)

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The Government of Canada has angered those who believe that a proposed copyright law threatens the country's open source business model.

Russell McOrmond, a member of the Canadian Software Innovation Alliance (CSIA), says that Bill C-61, the proposed copyright legislation unveiled by the government last month, ignores just about every recommendation made by CSIA, a coalition of open source businesses and supporters, in a white paper.

That white paper, released in December 2007, recommends an approach to digital copyright that is fair to open source developers. However, McOrmond says that Bill C-61 attacks the freedom of access principle upon which the open source business model depends for its viability.

"Bill C-61 prohibits the circumvention of technological measures, also known as copyright protection systems and technical protection measures (TPM)," he says, "no matter who owns the technological measure or whether the circumvention is being done for what would otherwise be a lawful activity.

"There are two controversial abuses that impact software authors. Those include TPMs that apply to hardware where the keys are held by [someone] other than the owner of the hardware, and TPMs applied to digital content that can only be unlocked by specific brands of locked-down software and devices. Before any other rights of a software author can be protected, we need to know that our potential customers are allowed to make their own software choices. Both of these abuses of TPMs revoke the ability of our customers to make their own independent software choices."

For Sean Hurley, a systems administrator who does freelance work for Tillsonburg, Ontario-based Open Computing, Bill C-61's primary flaw is that it attacks innovation by criminalizing reverse engineering of media technologies.

While he acknowledges that Canada's copyright law needs changes, he argues that the proposed law actually imposes the values of a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) international agreement that was not based on any feedback from Canadian artists or consumers.

"The open source model on the server is rather mature and probably will not be impacted in a great way," says Hurley. "But what it does do is it hurts adoption of open source on the desktop. The media conglomerates ... are all about money. They can't sign a licensing agreement for media playback or unlocking mechanisms or digital rights agreements with an entity that doesn't exist in a legal sense, such as the open source community. That will mean that it become cumbersome, and probably illegal, to have media decoders on Linux-based desktop computers.

"The law upsets the balance of rights. It gives the lion's share of rights to third parties who add little in value to what is produced and what is consumed. It removes copyright from the realm of civil law and places it into the realm of criminal law. If this law is passed, all of us who use Linux and playback DVDs in Canada are criminals."

Ken Clark, an intellectual property lawyer at Aird & Berlis LLP, a law firm in Toronto, Ontario, says that that there are pluses and minuses with Bill C-61. He says he has no personal opinion on the proposed law since it is still in the very early stages of the legislative process.

"The [proposed legislation] is trying to be balanced," he says. "I could see how DRM [digital rights management] might have an adverse impact on some reverse engineering of executable code. On the other hand, DRM might provide a way to prevent rampant copying.

"Implementing DRM protection is in some ways misguided to begin with and it's a ham-handed approach to solve the problem. [The government] should have expanded sections focusing on fair dealing and fair use a bit more. At the same time, there are lots of good things about the proposed legislation, such as protection of performers' rights."

Meanwhile, CSIA, which has authored a petition that has already been sighed by hundreds of Canadians, says it will continue to reach out to the software community, politicians, and other policy makers to explain why Bill C-61, as it currently stands, is so dangerous to the open source business model.

"The CSIA and grassroots organizations are trying to reach out to other people in the software industry and to communicate with politicians and other policy makers," McOrmond says. "We believe that if everyone understood the true nature of these specific abuses of TPMs that not only would the government not be providing them legal protection, but they might outlaw them."

Ian Palmer is a freelance writer based near Toronto, Canada, who focuses on technology and business issues.

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on Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

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DVD playback on Linux already illegal in Finland

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.232.131.160] on July 11, 2008 06:27 AM
Playing DVD's in Finland with Linux has been illegal for a month or so. The law was passed a while back, but it had not been tested. Now it has been and playing DVD's on Linux is considered "intentional circumventing of effective copy-protection". It's actually more legal for me to download the same movies from the Internet here - provided I don't share it to other in the process (like with Bittorrent).

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 99.234.169.121] on July 11, 2008 05:15 PM
I am not surprised with Bill C-61. Canadians carry out the wishes of their Big Brother on the South of the border, a country run by Corporates and Special Interest Groups e.g. Bill Gates (Microsoft) and others. No wonder, as a country, why Canada is little known in the world today.

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Re: Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 205.250.159.224] on July 11, 2008 08:18 PM
That statement indicates how little you know about we Canadians or about our political culture. Until you learn something about us please keep your yap well and truly shut.

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Re(1): Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.77.17.189] on July 12, 2008 09:26 AM
We Canadians may not always suck up to the US, but the current Conservative government certainly does.

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.176.132.114] on July 12, 2008 04:12 PM
How many new laws do we need before all our needs in new laws are completely satisfied?

I am adopting the Islamic point of view. Only God can make laws. That principle should indeed put drastical end to all these self-invented laws. What's more, the evergrowing deluge of new false laws has indeed no legitimacy. And indeed, it is all going to end, daggers drawn.

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.239.83.228] on July 12, 2008 08:34 PM
As a canadian, i can tell you that Canada has been the US lapdog since Trudeau left (dont forget the a-hole Kennedy hated Diefenbaker more than Krushev). The Mulroney (the guy who helped close down his home town for his american bosses before he came to power) years came to signify american ass-kissing at is best (the guy used to love to tell the stories how as a kid he used to sing for the wealthy american industrialists who owned his town), then when the other criminals came to power to rob the country for the next decade, it was business as usual.
Every illegal invasion the US went on, we followed. The bombing of Yoguslavia to support what the CIA had called the previous year the largest and best armed terror group in the world: the Albanian KLA? Canada was there. When Bin Laden was in Bosnia and the tens of thousands of muhajeddins roaming the country,? We never stopped them, they were on our side.
The overthrow of the legitimate president of Haiti? We held the door while the US kidnapped him?
Afghanistan? Front and center doing what our british forefather did before us.
You know why we managed to make morons believe that we arent sold to the US? Because we dont have ground troops in Iraq. Sure, we have over 1500 troops serving under US command but those dont count. Neither does the logistic support we supply or the blocade we are upholding. In the words of the US administration, we have done more for the US invasion of Iraq than ANY other country. And somehow, this proves that we are what we are.
We are a colony. A trained seal or dog which barks when its master calls.

If you want to feel that we have more power vis a vis the US that lets say Guam or Porto Rico, fine go ahead.

This country belongs to the US. Our economy belongs to them. Our resources belong to them (check the Free Trade agreement, whats ours is theirs). But every Canada day, we celebrate gaining our semi-independence from the social virus that is England when we should be crying about what happened to this country the past 30 years..
Our conservative party, which has had a long tradtition of patriotism was replaced by a bunch of extreme right republican wannabees called the Reform Canadian Alliance which place american interest first. They wanted the Conservative name so they could pass off the switch and they did. The old conservative party had just passed a motion asking for the party to study the effects of Free Trade on Canada 20 years after it was implemented and THIS is a crime. Free Trade cannot be discussed, debated or studied. 20,000 canadian companies that have gone into american hands since then, not worth even studying.

Those republicans who are now in power have nothing to do with the the conservative party which was over a hundred years old. But dont make it seem that our country was sold out by Harper. That's just idiotic.

But hey, dont forget to wave that flag next time some yank tells us what we really are.
I travel in europe and elsewhere about 4-5 months every year for business and let me tell you, the "Canada" we still think they world still sees (circa Expo '67 and Montreal '76 Games),..it aint there.
Most of the time its "What happened to your country? It used to be a fair and decent country."
Of course, they also remember when during the Trudeau years we had flirted with the non-aligned countries.
Now, we are seem as their lackeys.

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Re: Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 127.0.0.1] on July 13, 2008 06:10 AM
These are strong words. True or not I can not say. If however a bill needs to be stopped I don't think such an approach would help. Rather it should be made known to the people. Yes - Linux.com is good but it is not all. How will it affect all of us - the users? Are we going to say nothing or talk ... call the MP, write a letter. This post is good but in few days it will be long gone. Nobody flips to old posts - the one that are not on the first page. Perhaps the webmaster can make it stick - perhaps it should stick. Complaining doesn't help. Just act. It doesn't matter how big or small the action is. If we don't do it - nobody will do it. So ... talk to people - at work, in the Church - if you care about it - share it :-)

I will also share something with you. Regardless of the bill or the windows monopoly or Bill Gates' billions this is what warms my hearth "Jesus Loves Me this I know, for the Bible tells me so..."

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.86.210.17] on July 14, 2008 06:26 AM
"On the other hand, DRM might provide a way to prevent rampant copying."

MIGHT? They aren't even sure that it will help preventing copying - it won't, that's common knowledge. The DRM systems that's in use today do MUCH more to annoy the legal user then it hinders the one who want to rip it. It's already illegal, so it can't be more or less legal, now can it?

Nalle Berg
./nalle.

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.43.97.94] on July 14, 2008 07:36 PM
My real reason for opposing these type of laws is the same as yours, playing media on LInux with FOSS, but here's an arguement to put to the proponents:
By bringing in laws that criminalize the breaking of Digital Rights Management, we are encouraging people to not bother using an effective technique for DRM, like, say, a dongle, but instead spending little time instituing a simple, easy to break measure, and relying on the law to prevent it being broken. Since copyright violation is already unlawful, this does not hinder, but actually helps the violaters violate copyright, because it is easier to break these simple methods, than to break the more complicated methods that companies would use if thesse laws did not exist.

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Re: Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.43.97.94] on July 14, 2008 07:40 PM
oops, forgot to sign off

Beojan Stanislaus <beojanDO_NOT_KEEP_THIS_PART@LAVABIT.COM
beejex.co.cc My Linux Distro

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.9.39.127] on July 15, 2008 04:38 AM
It's not that Canada sucks up to the U.S., quite the opposite. The U.S. bullies and threatens Canada. We don't have any more choice in the laws thrust on us by the current fascist U.S. Administration than Iraq had a say in being invaded.
When whatever little crap hole country you live in can manage to stand up to the U.S., then you can start blathering on about Canada "sucking up" to the American leadership.

The U.S. government is totally bought and sold by big business interests. They make the laws, choose the leaders, and set policy. DMCA is a perfect example of that. Those are the same companies the pushed through NAFTA so they could sell out all the American workers and replace them with cheap Mexican labour. However, the U.S. follows those laws and treaties when it suits them. Look at the billions they screwed Canada out of on the illegal soft-wood lumber tarrifs, even though the NAFTA courts ruled them illegal several times.
Now, those comapnies that rule America want to foist the same crap on Canada. After all, they can't have Canada remaining free. Having an example of freedom next door would only remind the sleeping American public what they've been stripped of over the years.

Tachyon

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 154.5.223.199] on July 17, 2008 07:21 PM
As a Canadian it heartens me somewhat to read comments from people who have seen through the corporate media memes. Yes, we're a branch plant economy run by corporate sell-outs who are endlessly inventive when it comes to avoiding accountability. Corporations may be necessary in our world, but we have lost nearly all checks and balances to their current unfettered power. I hate to say it, but whatever copyright law is passed, we'll probably just have to suck on it.

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Canadian open source community upset over proposed copyright law

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.173.88.239] on July 19, 2008 11:34 AM
Forget about the corporations and US influence. It is question of freedom. The only freedom we have is the ability to choose. So I am with all free Canadians on this one. I am an American, but if I was an Canadian I will make sure that my elected officials are ware of my opinion. And if the politicians in Canada make a choice to sell their fellow citizens to the corporations they do not deserve to be re-elected again. But only the Canadians can make that choice. I really hope that Canadians prove to the world that they are free people and reject this copyright bill.

SAL-e

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