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Canadian DMCA Proposal About To Die 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the aboot-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Like the previous Bill C-60 before it, the proposed Bill C-61 that would bring DMCA-like laws to Canada is poised to die on the order table, never to receive a vote, as the current minority government falls. An election call is expected in days. Everybody expects that some form of these laws will be back yet again (third time's a charm?). There are too many interests pushing for change to let it go. But here's a chance for Canadians to influence politicians about it in an election campaign, and hopefully strike a better balance. And for those of you in the rest of the world who are laboring under a DMCA-like copyright law, let's hear your stories about why such laws are a good or bad idea, and if bad, how you would amend the law to make it tolerable. With the polls probably on Oct. 14th, Canadians will be looking for a few good ideas."
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Canadian DMCA Proposal About To Die

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  • by francisstp (1137345) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:15PM (#24897805) Homepage
    Had the Conservatives been governing under a majority government, this bill would have passed long ago (plus we'd be even more involved militarily). Let's hope the situation stays identical for a long time.
  • by fyoder (857358) * on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:25PM (#24897853) Homepage Journal

    Let's hope the situation stays identical for a long time.

    No, lets hope the NDP form a majority government.

    Ah ha ha ha, kidding, I know that some things just aren't possible, esp. when people who might have voted NDP vote Liberal because they're justifiably frightened of Harper and his Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:42PM (#24897921)

    Its funny, but theres more people living in the state of California than there is in Canada. The Idea that Canadian file sharing could possibly be doing that much harm to the record industry is laughable.

  • by sayfawa (1099071) on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:44PM (#24897935)
    I know that some things just aren't possible, esp. when people who might have voted NDP vote Liberal because they're justifiably frightened of Harper and his Reform/Alliance/Conservative Party.

    I've taken a hard stance that I like to talk about: I have sworn to myself that I won't fall for fearmongering any more. I now vote only for the party that I actually want to be in power, consequences be damned. I've convinced myself that our form of democracy just doesn't work if you don't vote for who you actually support. And I've been ranting to anyone who will listen: The Liberals aren't *that* much different from the Conservatives. So if, by some amazing chance, my (or your) vote for the NDP or Greens (or the Bloc if you're into that kind of thing :) ) could have been the deciding vote between the Libs and Cons, the situation is still largely the same. Especially if it's a minority.

    But, it's hard convincing people. Even people who like the NDP. Even after I let them know that each vote means more funding for that party, so it isn't just a "wasted vote". Even after convincing them that the Libs wouldn't even have this "green shift" platform if it wasn't for the recent upswing in the Greens' numbers. Even after I show them Tommy Douglass' Mousland speech [youtube.com]. Sigh.
  • Ok, two thoughts. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:47PM (#24897943) Homepage Journal

    First, there's never going to be a "good" DMCA, at least not in those terms. The copyright holders (not the artists, who generally get less from DMCA than they did prior to such laws) are trying to have their cake and eat it. Doesn't work.

    Second, if you absolutely have to have such a law, or ANY law on technology, then it has to be written in collaboration with technologists who can help politicians understand what will and won't work, and what is and is not enforceable. You CANNOT EVER make a good law in a vacuum. Every single time politicians and a single special-interest side of the debate try to control everything, it falls apart. If you don't listen, you cannot learn. If you do not learn, you cannot hope to avoid the mistakes of the past.

  • Re:Oh well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Friday September 05, 2008 @11:51PM (#24897963) Homepage

    While I don't think Layton would be a good prime minister, I'm gonna be voting NDP just because they will fight bills likes this, even if the NDP doesn't win many seats.

  • Re:So now we... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @12:10AM (#24898047)
    For what exactly? That our political system is setup in such a way that proposed bills get turfed if they're introduced too close to an election? There've been many good bills that have met the same fate because of elections.
  • by xra (1021817) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @12:16AM (#24898063)
    One more reason to make sure the conservatives do not form a majority government.
  • Re:So now we... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @12:21AM (#24898073)

    our political system is setup in such a way that proposed bills get turfed if they're introduced too close to an election? There've been many good bills that have met the same fate because of elections.

    Better ten good laws get turfed than one bad one get passed.

  • by mellon (7048) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @12:53AM (#24898201) Homepage

    Of course, the problem isn't people who want to live off their works for the rest of their lives. It's people who want those works to remain under copyright protection for half a century or more after the author has died. And it's all of the works that nobody is making any money on anymore, but that nevertheless are lost to the world because, since they are under copyright, and the owners of the copyright can't be located, the works can't be digitized.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @01:05AM (#24898247)

    >Why else would you think one individuals hard work belongs to you after 14 years or failure to register with a centralized body for a non-trivial fee?

    Actually, as an Electrician, I create a lot of hard work. I was paid for it by the factory I worked at. I've left that line of work now. Do I feel the factory owes me anything at all?

    No.

    Why do artists feel they are owed money for a lifetime and a half (Canada's current laws give 50 years AFTER DEATH copyright terms) for any work they do? Whether it takes 5 minutes or 5 years? They're worse than today's university grads that feel toiling in a university for 3 years _entitles_ them to a $80k+ a year job FOR LIFE.

    Fuck that self-entitlement shit right up the ass. If you don't like it, don't create any more art. I really don't care if there's no more art in the world if the only way it can be created is is if artists feel they deserve to be paid for it 50 years after they're dead and buried. Nobody deserves treatment like that, not even Jesus for God's sakes.

    >I think that if an artist creates a brilliant work of art, and wants to live off the royalties of that work for the rest of their life, they should have that right.

    I created plenty of brilliant works as an Electrician, and even if I was the only one who could do the job I did (hint: artists are JUST AS REPLACEABLE, trust me -- there might be only one van gogh and only one mozart, but the world didn't stop turning because they didn't get 100+ year copyrights) I *never* felt entitled to live off that job for the rest of my life, just watching profits roll in, not doing jack shit to continue to justify them.

    I think we need to go back to the old system of Kings and Queens paying artists to create art for them so artists can be taken off that high pedestal they think they deserve. Put them in a real job for five minutes and they'll start crying. Well, they say crying is the first step to healing!

    >How good is a 15 year old map anyway? It will have none of the modern roads or provincial bodies, thus even the companies creating them acknowledged no need to protect them after a certain point.

    Actually, I've used plenty of 15 year old provincial maps (thanks province of Ontario, too bad they're no longer free!) and they are just fine. Very few roads disappear, except for the occasional local route.

    >I'm sure lots of washed-up celebs still live off royalties from shows they did decades ago, even if they get a whopping 15 cents every time it airs. Who are you to tell that person that they don't deserve that money just cause you feel like downloading an episode off of YouTube?

    You *have* to be shitting me, right? There's plenty of washed up, drunk, useless Electricians out there too. And if they don't get their arse up each and every morning they can't afford anything but moonshine. Do you shed a tear for them? Fucking elitist.

    >Limit copyright to the lifetime of the individual creator, or to a reasonable period for companies.

    Abolish copyright entirely. Stop letting artists be elitist pricks. It's about friggin' time.

    >I'm sorry that you, and I, and most of us will work 9-5 till we die, that doesn't mean a (arguably) creative genious like JK Rowling should have to start worrying about Sorceror's Stone knockoffs anytime soon.

    You have to be fucking kidding me. Because someone can operate a typewriter and put pablum on a page they deserve a lifetime of luxury?

    >Just cause you're selfish and have no concept of the hard-work and effort people put into these products, and therefore don't understand the value of copyright law, doesn't mean copyright law is wrong.

    *I'M SELFISH?* WTF?!?! I'm selfish because I expect perfectly capable people to work 40 hours a week? That I don't think someone who writes a book one time has the right to live off it for the rest of their life? That they society shouldn't tell them "enough is enough" and remind them, yes, you really do need to work for a livi

  • Re:Oh well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @01:08AM (#24898265)

    Please look at the chance of success in your riding first. If the vote might actually put in an NDP, go for it. If there's no chance you're going to have anything but Conservative, go for it. But if you're in a riding that can make a difference by stopping a Conservative win by voting Liberal, sigh and do the right thing. (Then go bawl out your Lib MP for what a useless party they still are.)

    I'm in the last type of riding. It ain't a happy thing, but my god we'll be fucked if the Conservatives get more seats.

    ----
    For foreigners reading along, here's how bizarre our riding-based vote-counting can get: Last election the PQ got 10% of the popular vote and 51 seats, while the NDP got 17% of the popular vote but only 29 seats.

    All parties except the NDP got more seats than their popular vote would indicate. NDP only got 9% of the seats with their 17% of the vote.

    So while there is a lot of support for NDP policies here (if not Jack Layton), in most ridings voting for them is a Nader situation as far as the results go. It's very unfortunate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @01:22AM (#24898337)

    I won't release future work to the public.

    That is ABSOLUTELY FINE by me. I don't need your trash. I DO need the ability to communicate freely. If the "price" of being able to communicate freely is the "loss" of your future work, I can live with that. Face it, everyone's right to communicate freely is simply more important than your "right" to escape the free market via (technologically enforced or otherwise) copyright monopoly grants (note that if copyright exists, a free market _doesn't_)

    If you don't want it copied, don't fucking release it.

    Anyway, if I have a COPY of your work, you still have the work. Things are simply NOT WORTH the work put into them. That's called a "labor theory of value" and is a central fallacy of pre-20th-century economic thought, leads straight to Marxist communist theory, but is totally wrong.

    If you think a "labor theory of value" is right (it isn't, but anyway), then I point out that billions of dollars "worth" of man-hours have gone into the sotware on a linux CD. NO single man on earth is going to equal that amount of work, ever. So, the solution is simple - we give you a linux distro CD, and maybe a cookie.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:05AM (#24898531) Journal

    You sir, have obviously never created anything of value. Why else would you think one individuals hard work belongs to you after 14 years or failure to register with a centralized body for a non-trivial fee?

    And you, sir, have evidently never invented anything useful.

    I have 12 granted US Patents [all involve apparatus, none are for software or business methods], and a couple of pending applications. Some of these patents are actively exploited in products on the market, and I receive modest remuneration as a result. Of course, you are free to exploit any patented invention for your own use, provided it is not used commercially - royalties are only needed for commercial use.

    Not only do you have to pay "non-trivial" filing, inspection, and [perhaps] grant fees to the US PTO, you must pay increasing renewal fees every four years to maintain a granted patent. You must also submit a locally adapted translated application and pay (usually even higher) fees in every other jurisdiction where you want your invention to be protected.

    At most after 20 years from the first filing, the patent expires. None of mine have expired yet, but it won't be too long before the first one does. In fact, all of my existing patents will have expired before I retire. They are not "money for your life and your descendents' lives", even if they are used commercially for decades.

    Revert the DMCA. Limit copyright to the lifetime of the individual creator, or to a reasonable period for companies. Restrict copyright to actual works (Mickey Mouse is trademarked and protected, but Walt Disney is dead, and "Steamboat Willy" should be open domain). I'm sorry that you, and I, and most of us will work 9-5 till we die, that doesn't mean a (arguably) creative genious like JK Rowling should have to start worrying about Sorceror's Stone knockoffs anytime soon.

    Now, which benefits society more in the long term - a useful invention (on which further inventions may be built) or a recording of Prince or Madonna squawking?

    If it's not exploited, a patent is often allowed to lapse after only 8 or 12 years (non-payment of maintenance fees). It expires after at most 20 years, no matter what.

    I see no reason why copyrights should automatically be worldwide (patents are national), or last much longer than a patent. Even the lifetime of the author is the wrong term for copyright (author might be creative at 90 years old, or die in an accident, etc.), and would be inapplicable to corporations. A fixed maximum term of 20 years would be reasonable.

    If a longer copyright term (such as 50 years) were adopted, then there should be an early expiry mechanism for copyright. For example, if a work has been in copyright for more than 12 years, then if 4 years pass without the work or a direct derivative being distributed, then it would lapse into the public domain. Note that works under GPL would not be weakened by this requirement, since they are being frequently distributed.

  • by ppanon (16583) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:12AM (#24898549) Homepage Journal
    Eh don't hate artists because of him. Apart for some egotists like the guy from Metallica, artists generally want their art to be experienced and appreciated by as many people as possible and are happy to just make a healthy living at it (i.e put food on the table and a roof over their head). The GP is probably a shill for either the RIAA, MPAA, GOP, or CPoC (Conservative Party of Canada) trying to astroturf to support the party line.

    Most artists are OK, It's the bottom feeders that rip everyone off by creating artificial scarcity that you need to be angry with.
  • by rohan972 (880586) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:35AM (#24898625)

    Why else would you think one individuals hard work belongs to you after 14 years or failure to register with a centralized body for a non-trivial fee? ... Just cause you're selfish and have no concept of the hard-work and effort people put into these products, and therefore don't understand the value of copyright law, doesn't mean copyright law is wrong.

    We as a society, sir, never have rewarded people on the basis hard work and effort, nor is there ever any intention to do so. We reward people for supplying a saleable product or service for which there is a demand. The extent of the reward is determined by supply and demand.

    Consider this example: a man moves a pile of rocks, then moves it back, every day for a year. No-one asked him to, he has no contract promising payment for moving the rocks. Do we reward him on the basis of his hard work? He has worked extremely hard! No, we don't reward him. If he had a lifelong dream to move rocks, he has fulfilled his dream, he's a success! If he did it in the expectation that someone should reward him, he's just a fool.

    Nobody cares how hard the "individual creator" works, that's their problem. Introduce laws to reward hard work and you'll get a whole bunch of people doing "busy work" that's totally unproductive and undesirable and drains the economy. It'd be like having another government.

    Here's the issue: copying is a natural right. It is the basis of all learning. We copy to learn to walk, we copy to learn to talk, we copy to learn to write, there is no endeavour you can embark on that does not depend on you first doing a massive amount of copying. Even our very life comes about from the copying of DNA, it is fundamental to our existence. Therefore, it is the obligation of the copyright proponents to justify their demand that people refrain from their natural right, not the obligation of the people to justify copying.

    Well, here is the justification:
    Without copyright (and with the existence of the internet) an unregulated free market operating solely on supply and demand does not facilitate the production of works as abundantly as we would like. The reason is that due to the infinitely copyable nature of the works, there are two extremes of supply only, (1) zero supply (or potential supply) for works not yet created and (2) unlimited supply for works that have been created. In the case of (1) the price for the production of one copy needed to provide incentive for the creator is too high for most potential buyers, greatly decreasing demand and therefore decreasing production of works. In the case of (2) the unlimited supply drops the price to near zero, greatly decreasing the incentive to supply and therefore decreasing production of works. But we want the works to be produced, so we can use (including copy) them.

    The solution society (in the USA) came up with: we will temporarily forsake our natural right to copy, artificially creating a third intermediate phase in the supply of infinitely copyable works. (1a) temporary period in which the work has already been created, stimulating demand, but supply is limited, increasing the price and providing incentive for the creator. It is important to remember that the whole purpose for agreeing to this artificial limitation of supply is to achieve an abundance of infinitely copyable and usable works. So copyright is a social contract. You can find the terms of that contract in the US constitution: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"

    So, you can see that "limited time" is a key part of the social contract. The agreement isn't "You produce works for us to buy, and we'll pay for them forever" it is "We'll temporarily refrain from copying so you can sell your work, you deliver that work to the public domain". Saying to me "Don't copy this work for now, your gr

  • by Vectronic (1221470) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:42AM (#24898659)

    Not that im for laws against file sharing, but if Canada had no restrictions on file sharing, then I'd imagine there would be a lot of Canadian rippers, and the USians could download from them, which would contrast with the US laws, and then either force Canada back into laws against it, or restrict the transfers between Canada and the US, since corporately many reside in/on both countries, unlike most central European, south American, or African places, etc.

    Alternatively though, it may just force the corporations out of Canada (no distribution, or artist farming) which could easily be argued would be a good thing.

    The same goes for a single state within the US, it poses a threat that the industry can't let pass, what if it becomes a trend? OMGz! And I think thats mostly what they are scared of, regardless of population, any leeway is "bad" (according to them).

    Disclaimer: I'm Canadian, and I just woke up... so if this sounds like nonsense, it just might be.

  • by ozbird (127571) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:55AM (#24898697)
    I think that if an artist creates a brilliant work of art, and wants to live off the royalties of that work for the rest of their life, they should have that right.

    Real artists should be able to produce at least one brilliant work of art, or several acceptable ones, every 14 years.
  • by cp.tar (871488) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @04:11AM (#24898953) Journal

    On the same note, I would really love to see a system where empty ballots are counted as such — and where a number of empty ballots could get an empty seat in the parliament.
    It is unlikely the empty ballots would ever reach a majority, but even a few empty seats would show most vividly that some people are not at all represented, and remind the politicians that not everyone supports them. You need a majority for something? Well, the empty seats are against it; deal with it.

    It might not change much, but at least the current abstainees would now have a reason to vote, even if it is for no-one.

  • by Curtman (556920) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @06:20AM (#24899491)

    I now vote only for the party that I actually want to be in power, consequences be damned.

    That might work if the politicians were limited in the scope of bills they could introduce by what they promised to do during the election. Did I have any idea that Steven Harper would run all over the world shouting about how great and wonderful Israel is, and how we'll support them no matter what crimes they commit? I don't even remember it being an election issue. I don't remember people asking him to bring us a DMCA either. Did he mention that he would throw billions of dollars away that were stolen from us in the softwood lumber dispute?

    They lie. We can expect these guys to behave the way they always have. Whatever they say during the election isn't the problem. It's what they don't say, but intend to do if they get a majority that frightens me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 06, 2008 @07:29AM (#24899779)

    "Make it tolerable ..."

    As the original submitter, I chose that phrase carefully. I'm trying to strike the usual, reasonable, Canadian balance. We have to. Oh, I think the bill SUCKS, as would anything DMCA-like. But, obviously, two successive governments want something like this to be brought in, and, like it or lump it, we did sign the WIPO treaty, so something is going to happen. I have to respect the fact that some people have a completely different view. So, let's talk about a tolerable compromise.

    For example, I could probably tolerate the DMCA rules that apply to DRM if they changed one thing: that the act of circumvention was illegal ONLY if done in order to perform an act that is illegally infringing on its own. In other words, the act of circumvention isn't illegal if why you're doing it isn't illegal. If you're breaking DRM to exercise your "fair dealing" rights or to reverse-engineer something to be compatible, no problem then. The tools by themselves aren't illegal. If you're breaking DRM in order to copy and sell the result, you're in twice the trouble you were ordinarily. I'm fine with something like that. Break the locks to break the law, double the penalty, otherwise, there's nothing.

    The mystery to me is why something like that isn't in there already. The people that wrote this thing are either pretty stupid, didn't read any of the pathological cases related to the DMCA in the US and elsewhere, or they don't really care about striking a sensible balance.

    You're right, issues such as copyright terms, library access, and plenty of other things in copyright need changes. I'm all for shortening terms (50 years after creation is my preference) and not burdening libraries with the stupid idea of having to implement DRM even on things that don't have it already. I agree with you. But they put that nonsense in there for a reason to placate some other interest.

    All I'm saying is, maybe there's a way for both creators and users to get what they want from changes in copyright. Copyright has always been a balance, and Prentice and his advisors really messed it up this time. So, let's tell him and any other candidate how it *should* be, and make sure all the parties get the message.

    I mean, copyright law as an election issue? Something the parties know is of great interest to the public? Something parties will actually put in their platform? Who'd have thought? I can't wait to see the look on the local candidates' faces when I ask each of them what they thought of bill C-61 and what they would change if elected. We've got a golden opportunity here.

  • Re:Oh well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JediTrainer (314273) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @08:13AM (#24900015)
    Good for you!

    For my part, I wrote to my MP as well. Unfortunately my MP happens to be Bev right now (yes, the infamous Ms Oda herself). All I got back was a form letter telling me how the bill is 'fair and balanced', and the fines are 'relatively low' if you copy for personal use unless you break digital locks.

    F*** you, Bev. You're not getting my vote. And I'll do what I can to get my neighbours to not vote for you too.
  • by Mr. Picklesworth (931427) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @11:00AM (#24901147) Homepage

    considerably less money is spent on campaigning

    That is, unless you are the Conservatives. They seem to have been running election campaign ads for about two weeks now. Really terrible ads, I might add. Frankly, I don't want our prime minister to be some "normal human" who sits around talking about his kids and how he spends lots of time with them. The PM should be superhuman, able to dedicate himself completely to his job for the whole term. There are a lot of 'normal humans' who waste my time talking about their kids besides Harper.
    Recent history (George Bush) has shown us that when a party resorts to this tactic they are trying to manipulate people to vote for something they do not believe in. I dearly hope this doesn't work out for them, because if it does we are all doomed.

    The election ads themselves do not fit well given that the government has yet to actually declare an election and Harper himself, in his usual closed-doors way, has not actually stated his intentions. No other party is running campaign ads. As I understand it, no party should be running campaign ads. It is funny to think this is the same party which got power in the first place by blasting the Liberals for an advertising scandal of their own.

  • Re:Oh well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jorophose (1062218) on Saturday September 06, 2008 @12:04PM (#24901613)

    I have no idea what my MP is saying on it, but I'm pretty sure he's against at this point (McGuinty).

    IMHO, if your local representatives are shit, or they won't stand against the DMCA, vote Green. If only because even though I disagree with the whole socialist-green-politics, the Greens need the votes. If you get as many people convinced to vote Green too all the better. And one Green seat means one less conservative/liberal vote, and one less chance of stupid bills being passed.

  • Re:Oh well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1 AT yahoo DOT com> on Saturday September 06, 2008 @02:19PM (#24903029) Journal

    I always thought it would be a cold day in hell when I would vote NDP, but I am now wondering if their nanny state tax & spend socialism is a lesser evil than facing astronomical fines for playing my DVDs under Linux, unlocking my cellphone or watching foreign DVDs on region free players.

    If Bob Barr ever gives up on the US of A, I wonder if he would be inclined to help start/resurrect the libertarian party of Canada.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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