I was disturbed to find that Michael Geist has come out in favour of Digital Rights Management/Technical Protection Measures in an article published today. In his own words:
1. Anti-Circumvention Rules
The rules on digital locks are easily the most controversial aspect of the forthcoming bill. Yet there is more agreement here than disagreement. At this stage, the majority of stakeholders accept that Canada should implement the WIPO Internet treaties and with it introduce anti-circumvention rules into Canadian copyright law. The fact that we move forward on WIPO should please the U.S. and many copyright lobby groups.
I – along with many others – have argued that it should only be a violation of the law to circumvent a technological protection measure if the underlying purpose is to infringe copyright. Circumvention should be permitted to access a work for fair dealing, private copying, or any other legal purposes. This approach – which is similar (though not identical) to the failed Bill C-60 – would allow Canada to implement the WIPO Internet treaties and avoid some of the negative “unintended consequences” that have arisen under the DMCA. It is also the approach that was recently adopted in India and bears some similarity to both New Zealand and Japan. While some would not love this – some would want more, others less – it is likely an acceptable compromise to most.
I’d like to remind Michael that there was more agreement than disagreement that blacks were an inferior species in North America late into the 1900s, and that there is still a strong belief that Native Canadians are inferior in parts of Canada even today. Just because there is some agreement on something doesn’t mean that it’s right.
Michael also ignores the specific language of the WIPO Copyright Treaty, which under Article 11, Obligations concerning Technical Measures says:
Contracting Parties shall provide adequate legal protection and effective legal remedies against the circumvention of effective technological measures that are used by authors in connection with the exercise of their rights under this Treaty or the Berne Convention and that restrict acts, in respect of their works, which are not authorized by the authors concerned or permitted by law.
Note the highlighted word. AUTHORS. There is no allowance for corporations (which by definition cannot be authors) to implement DRM/TPM, and there is no protection for DRM/TPM implemented by a corporation, unless the AUTHOR is in agreement.
Corey Doctorow has an article titled ‘Can You Survive A Benevolent Dictatorship‘ discussing issues with DRM/TPM on the Apple IPad, in which he says:
There’s an easy way to change this, of course. Just tell Apple it can’t license your copyrights–that is, your books–unless the company gives you the freedom to give your readers the freedom to take their products with them to any vendor’s system. You’d never put up with these lockdown shenanigans from a hardcopy retailer or distributor, and you shouldn’t take it from Apple, either, and that goes for Amazon and the Kindle, too.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Blue-Ray was supposed to include a managed copy system. Scenic Labs attempted to implement the managed copy system, and ran into severe problems. They didn’t even have the option of not using the Advanced Access Content System unless they burned the discs in their own facility, which according to the article wasn’t feasible.
The Apple IPad. The Amazon Kindle. The Microsoft XBox360. The Nintendo Wii. The Sony PS3. Blue Ray Players. All of these default to ‘DRM ON’ even if the author doesn’t want it. All of them push DRM at authors. None of them give the choice that the WIPO Treaty was supposed to provide. None of them are legal under the plain language of the treaty.
The Americans make a huge fuss about being WIPO compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, but the DMCA does not recognize the special status that was accorded to authors, instead it accords this status to publishers, which is in conflict with the WIPO Copyright Treaty.
There are other issues with DRM/TPM that I’m going to cover in another article, but for now I have one question:
Why do you support DRM/TPM Michael?
Tuesday April 27, 2010