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June 3, 2010

Canadian copyright laws updated, but still out of touch

CANADA/TECHNOLOGY - The last time Canadian copyright laws were updated cassette tapes were still popular. Its been a long time coming. VCRs, VHS tapes, audio tapes... they're all pretty much obsolete now.

You could also argue so are CDs, DVDs and other forms of "over the counter" media.

The future is internet digital media, movies, music, books, etc. that can be downloaded and shared as easily as you buy a book and share it with your friends... or a CD, or a DVD, or even a video game.

So called "record sales" continue to drop and small wonder. Its obsolete. It doesn't matter whether you're measuring record sales with vinyl, tapes or CDs. They're all obsolete. Get with the program people, its called the internet and its here to stay. See The Napster Revolution.

One could even argue Blue Ray Discs are obsolete. They never even became mainstream in the first place and already they're going the way of 8-tracks.

Under the proposed Bill C-32 companies will be allowed to add copyright protection software to their products, but ignores the fact that even copyright protection software is obsolete because it can now be easily bypassed with programs people can download online for free.

Bill C-32 does allow for schools and universities greater flexibility to use copyrighted material in the classroom, using the standard "fair use" exemptions which would allow teachers to copy material to be used in the classroom (assuming these teachers can figure out how to bypass the copyright protection software).

Bill C-32 also effects journalists by allowing them "fair use" exemptions as well.

The cost of implementing copyright protection software is often not worth it. It costs millions to develop and test a new type of software and once it reaches a certain level of market saturation there is always some computer sleuth who comes along and shows how to bypass the software.

Thus many companies don't even bother with copyright protection software because they've realized how futile it is.

Instead many companies have gone the way of the monthly or annual membership fee, allowing people to use software like Norton Antivirus, popular MMORPG games like DDO or WoW... or even an one time membership fee which gives you a password and instant access to the game or software.

The new Bill C-32 does allow format shifting and private copying without any compensation or recognition of the rights of creators. That means if you bought the old VHS tape years ago you can now back it up on DVD or on your computer hard drive. There's no need to go out and buy a new copy of your favourite films.

This bill is really just a measure to keep American and European lawmakers happy who have been pressuring Canada to update it copyright laws. Ordinary citizens should be perfectly safe and won't be made an example out of, a topic which has worried many Canadians who have seen frivolous lawsuits over copyright infringement and the trading of online music and movies.

Bill C-32 also limits the amount which companies can sue individuals for, making them unlikely to actually pursue lawsuits against minor offenders so long as its not for commercial benefit. The current law does not distinguish between commercial and non-commercial infringements and allowed people to be sued for up to $20,000 for each copied piece. Instead the cap will be changed to $5,000 and one time only.

This is not the first time the government has tried to update Canada's copyright laws. A similar bill in 2008 (Bill C-61) died when the 2008 election was called.

However frankly a lot of these laws are unenforcable because of international boundaries, people changing the work slightly (or pastiching it), using the work for educational or fair use means, or distributing it through a 3rd-party network like yousendit.com, transferbigfiles.com, filesdirect.com, dropsend.com, sendspace.com or any of the hundreds of other file transfer services available.

And this totally ignores anonymous FTP servers. The point I am making is regardless of how industry officials try to circumvent the population from sharing information and media people will just come up with other ways to keep doing it.

The Jack is out of the Box and he's running down the street free as a bird...

See Also:
Cyberspacology 1.01
The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction
The Cultural Netolution

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