United States International

American copyright, stay away from me

American copyright, stay away from me
by: Wayne MacPhail

Thanks to Jim Prentice, Canada may be about to step one year forward, ten years back, at least as far as copyright law goes.

Any day now, Prentice, Canada's Industry Minister, is expected to table proposed changes to the Copyright Act in the House of Commons.

All bets are that the changes will bring our copyright law into line with U.S. regulations which have proven useless, expensive, foolhardy, restrictive and punitive to consumers.

Back in October, 1998, the U.S. introduced the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The act made it a crime to produce or distribute technology or services that could be used to break digital rights management locks on copyrighted material and beefed up penalties for copyright infringement.

It also made it possible for the American recording industry to sue musicians' fans including single moms, grandparents and teenagers. This is the business equivalent of the steroidal, mouth-breathing schoolyard bully beating the snot out of the skinny kid with taped glasses.

It also made it illegal for programmers to break encryption codes on DVD, software or CDs or to even discuss security breeches in public. Programmers have been jailed for both - even though the encryptions restrict legitimate use and even though security analysts increase security when they discuss flaws.

More importantly for the average citizen, it has taken away consumer rights from digital versions of materials (books, CDs) that can be more freely shared as physical objects.

And, as I discussed in an earlier column, the Digital Rights Management (DRM) that is at the heart of the Copyright Act has been shown to be useless and punishes ordinary, innocent citizens who just want free access to content they legally purchased. It is being abandoned by the record industry, even most recently by the classical and conservative label Deutsche Grammophon.

But, despite the flurry of mean-spirited, and fan-spiting lawsuits by the record labels, the stupidity of DRM, the foolish chilling of security analysts and the lack of proof that piracy is causing financial harm, Jim Prentice wants to introduce Canadian copyright legislation that repeats the gaffes and mirrors the language of the DMCA.

Why should you care?

Because the provisions of the new act could open Canadians to the same kinds of venal lawsuits American record companies have launched at home.

Read the entire article here: http://rabble.ca/news_full_story.shtml?sh_itm=4e73a2d2ac39b9ac65ae8113c5deff8d&rXn=1&

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