What do digital locks mean for you and your work?

Michael Geist is writing a series of posts called The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter. Beginning October 3 and right up to today, Geist is presenting the arguments that various organizations have made publicly against the idea of digital locks, which Bill C-11 would protect, making it illegal for Canadians to circumvent them. (More background on C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act, here.) The bill is in its second reading in the House of Commons.

If you’re still on the fence about digital locks (they’re supposed to protect content creators and copyright holders, after all), it’s worth hearing what a wide variety of stakeholders have to say about them.

The Documentary Organization of Canada:

Already documentary filmmakers are encountering problems when attempting to access content behind digital locks. Documentarians are experimenting with new media and interactive documentary content using digital media. In order to access this material, they may have to break digital locks, which under the proposed legislation is considered illegal. However, their use of the material under a fair dealing defence would be legal. DOC considers this contradiction to be at odds with the purposes of copyright: it protects the rights holder, but it does not act in the interest of the public for dissemination nor does it foster creativity.

The Canadian Association of Media Education Associations:

…It would appear that the Canadian legislation is suffering from an excess of caution. While American media producers and educators enjoy a broad range of rights and freedoms under the Fair Use principles, Canadian producers and educators apparently have to wait for the Governor in Council to issue regulations that may mitigate the threat of prosecution. If this is the principal way that we are going to be informed about our rights as educators, the regulations should be broadly inclusive, and they should be issued promptly. A draft set of regulations would greatly increase educator’s confidence in the bill.

Canadian Association of Research Libraries:

On technological protection measures (TPM’s – digital locks), CARL is concerned that the anti-circumvention language will potentially prevent otherwise legal uses, such as fair dealing, of copyrighted materials when a TPM is applied to digital item. We would have preferred to see language in the bill limiting the penalization of the circumvention of TPM’s to infringing purposes.

Privacy Commissioner of Canada:

If DRM technologies only controlled copying and use of content, our Office would have few concerns. However, DRM technologies can also collect detailed personal information from users, who often do no more than access the content on a computer. This information is transmitted back to the copyright owner or content provider, without the consent or knowledge of the user. Although the means exist to circumvent these technologies and thus prevent the collection of this information, previous proposals to amend the Copyright Act contained anti-circumvention provisions.

Geist notes that there are ways to protect your privacy, but the software one would use to circumvent this function are also the same ones that break digital locks, and so they are illegal.

These statement suggests that the digital locks that C-11 protects are a threat to truth-seekers, educators, researchers, and even people who like their privacy—so, most everyone.

What do you think about digital locks? Would they have a negative impact on your work, or would they protect it?

Posted on November 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm by editor · · Tagged with: , , ,

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