Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Once Again, Canada on the Cutting Edge of Stupidity (HT: JPK

Have highlighted my favourite bits.

Controversial copyright reform to be unveiled Thursday

David George-Cosh, Financial Post with files from CanWest News Service Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2008

After months of delays and speculation, the federal government is set to unveil its controversial update to the Copyright Act of Canada Thursday.

According to a press release, Industry Minister Jim Prentice and Heritage Minister Josée Verner are set to introduce the legislation during the morning Parliamentary session. Both ministers will deliver brief statements and answer media inquiries shortly after the tabling of a bill to amend the Copyright Act.

Reports have also indicated that the two ministers will unveil the Copyright Act under the slogan "Made In Canada Copyright Reform" during a scheduled press conference.

The new Copyright Act has been updated to reflect the growth of digital media and is said to include a number of contentious provisions including:

-- A $500 fine for each illegal file shared online

-- Making it illegal to unlock cellphones or copy music from protected CDs to iPods

-- Forbidding the right to copy "time shifted" shows onto personal video recorders if flagged by broadcasters.

The Conservative government was set to introduce the new bill this past December but later decided to withhold introducing new legislation following an outpouring of protest by online grassroots organizations across Canada over fears the bill would fall in line with harsh U.S. copyright laws. For example, the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes all acts of circumvention an infringement unless subject to a specific exception.

University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, who has been a harsh critic of the government's stance on copyright legislation, condemns the U.S-styled approach Minister Prentice and Mr. Verner have taken in tabling the new bill.

"While it is clear that thousands of Canadians are waiting for the details of the bill, they don't need to wait until tomorrow to know that when Industry Minister Jim Prentice stands before a podium proclaiming this to be a ‘made in Canada' solution, the reality is that he did not take the time to ask many Canadians for their views," he said.

"The heart of the legislation, which will have a negative impact on consumer rights, privacy, and education, is better characterized as "Born in the USA.'"

Although it is unclear how the copyright bill will be enforced, observers have said enforcement could be aided if Canada signs on to the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), to be tabled next month at the G8 summit in Japan.

The agreement, which was recently published on a Web site known for disseminating leaked documents, would require Internet service providers to police the content that travels over their network. According to the four-page document, ISPs could be required to filter pirated digital files and reveal the identities of customers suspected of infringing on copyrighted material.

The Copyright Act has not been amended since 1997 although prior attempts to draw it in line following the ratification of the 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization Performances and Phonograms Treaty have failed.

What I love about the above is how 1.) Geist is once again the go to guy for the contrarian point. And two, how he somehow elides this made in Canada stupidity with the US. In any event, it ain't gonna happen. If China can't control the internet, what chance does Canada hold? And, really, do we want a Great Internet Wall of Canadistan?

HT: JPK who doesn't blog nearly as much as he ought to.

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