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Old 11-08-2012, 10:19 AM   #1
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It is now illegal to break DRM in Canada!

From Michael Geist (http://www.michaelgeist.ca) comes the news that Bill C-11 aka the copyright reform bill has passed. It grants a raft of consumer-oriented user rights, but also includes a controversial digital locks provision which basically trumps all these rights. It states that if a digital lock is present, you are not permitted to break it---even if you are doing so in order to do something that is otherwise permitted.

There are some specific exemptions which might soften the blow some:

- You can break the lock on 'computer software' for purposes of 'interoperability' so perhaps if an ebook could arguably be software, you could claim that breaking the DRM is permitted

- You can break the lock to make the work accessible if you have a 'perceptual disability.' So if you could argue that your prescription reading glasses mean you have a perceptual disability and your preferred ebook reader has font options you require use of to make the work accessible...

My issue with this law is that by criminalizing digital lock removal, they have set up a slippery slope they might not have intended. If buying a legal copy and stripping the DRM to read on your preferred device is now just as 'illegal' as downloading a free copy off the torrent sites, what incentive would a user have to choose the legal copy over the pirated one? Yes, piracy is 'wrong.' But now, so is stripping DRM off a legal copy. So, if you are going to 'break the law' anyway, why not have the free, unlocked version?
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:28 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ficbot View Post

My issue with this law is that by criminalizing digital lock removal, they have set up a slippery slope they might not have intended. If buying a legal copy and stripping the DRM to read on your preferred device is now just as 'illegal' as downloading a free copy off the torrent sites, what incentive would a user have to choose the legal copy over the pirated one? Yes, piracy is 'wrong.' But now, so is stripping DRM off a legal copy. So, if you are going to 'break the law' anyway, why not have the free, unlocked version?
That's an interesting point. I'm not going to advocate such a thing, but I wonder if there will be a spike in Canadian piracy and a correlating drop in Canadian sales, and if so, will that prompt a change to the law?
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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The difference is that while they might legally both be considered wrong, most people would consider the first not to be morally wrong. People's actions are driven by morality as well as legality.
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Old 11-08-2012, 10:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by murraypaul View Post
The difference is that while they might legally both be considered wrong, most people would consider the first not to be morally wrong. People's actions are driven by morality as well as legality.
They are also driven by money, and ficbot is right; given the choice between spending $15 and then breaking the law, or spending $0 and then breaking the law, many will choose the cheaper route.


Though it would also depend on the penalty for breaking the DRM removal law vs. the penalty of breaking an anti-piracy law.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:11 AM   #5
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And you also have to weigh the potential for getting caught. There's very little likelihood of ever being caught stripping DRM for your own use.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:15 AM   #6
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They are also driven by money, and ficbot is right; given the choice between spending $15 and then breaking the law, or spending $0 and then breaking the law, many will choose the cheaper route.


Though it would also depend on the penalty for breaking the DRM removal law vs. the penalty of breaking an anti-piracy law.
Of course, the the penalty would also depend on the likelihood of getting caught.
(edit: as Catlady pointed out while I was typing.)

Unless you take somewhat arcane measures to protect yourself, folks out on the interwebs are likely to know if you download illegally.

No one is likely to know what python scripts you run against a legally obtained file on your local machine. Except the ELINT guys in the black helicopters, of course.

On the flip side, the most likely scenario is that nothing will change. The vast majority of folks will simply obey they law, enjoying the convenience of pushing the Buy button on their Kindle or Nook, and never give a thought to format- or space-shifting, and the subculture that does otherwise will continue to do otherwise.

ApK

Last edited by ApK; 11-08-2012 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:19 AM   #7
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It will be interesting to see sales figures this time next year in Canada.

I don't know if they will be much different, though. The casual buyer of ebooks probably does not know much about where to go to get pirated copies. Most will just continue to get their ebooks from the places that they know.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
It states that if a digital lock is present, you are not permitted to break it---even if you are doing so in order to do something that is otherwise permitted.
Michael Geist also says "Under Canadian law, it is not an infringement to possess tools or software that can be used to circumvent digital locks and liability is limited to actual damages in non-commercial cases."

That's from section 41.1 (3): "The owner of the copyright in a work, a performer’s performance fixed in a sound recording or a sound recording in respect of which paragraph (1)(a) has been contravened may not elect under section 38.1 to recover statutory damages from an individual who contravened that paragraph only for his or her own private purposes."

So any case brought in Canada for removing DRM can only recover actual damages. Which are zero in the case of DRM removal from purchased ebooks for personal use.

Of course, anyone actually selling DRM removal software in Canada is now subject to a fine of up to $1million and/or up to five years in prison.

Last edited by pdurrant; 11-09-2012 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:36 AM   #9
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So any case brought against in Canada for removing DRM can only recover actual damages. Which are zero in the case of DRM removal from purchased ebooks for personal use.
That's pretty much the way it is in the UK, too. DRM removal is only a crime if it's done for commercial purposes.
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:41 AM   #10
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I live in Canada. I could care less about this law. I will still strip my books now for the same reason I did yesterday...so I can keep my books if Kobo or Amazon goes under, or if I am no longer able to access them through their websites.

I pay for my books because I want the authors to keep writing, not because I have all the money in the world to spend. I'm quite cheap when I need to be. This law won't make me download a pirated copy just because I want a DRM free version (or because I would be breaking the law either way).

Is it not already illegal to strip DRM in the US? Do you think it has affected the amount of ebooks sold? That there would be more sold if removing DRM was legal? People download pirate books because they could care less about the authors hard work. They just want something for nothing. IMO of course
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Old 11-08-2012, 11:44 AM   #11
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Of course, anyone actually selling DRM removal software in Canada is now subject to a fine of up to $1million and/or up to five years in prison.
Is it a only a violation to SELL, or give it away free, too?

Because if even free distribution is a violation, this could really be a boon to the Canadian economy:
Millions of people want the tools, but can't get them from others.
They pump money into the economy to go to school to learn computer science and programming, write their own tools, and in process become valuable skilled workers to grow the economy even more!

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Old 11-08-2012, 12:05 PM   #12
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Is it a only a violation to SELL, or give it away free, too?
It's illegal to give away to tools too. But as far as I can tell, if it's not commercial distribution there's no statutory damages or possibility of prison.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:16 PM   #13
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And you also have to weigh the potential for getting caught. There's very little likelihood of ever being caught stripping DRM for your own use.
Frankly, I don't see the point of laws like this, they are unenforceable. What are they going to do, set up "check points" for people carrying e-readers, phones and tablets? And how, at a glance would they know if an ebook would have had DRM stripped or not?

As you say, most who strip will simply go on doing so, since the odds of being caught are long indeed.
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:38 PM   #14
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That's an interesting point. I'm not going to advocate such a thing, but I wonder if there will be a spike in Canadian piracy and a correlating drop in Canadian sales, and if so, will that prompt a change to the law?
More likely to prompt extra laws to "fight" the increase in piracy (ie outlaw lots of legitimate services because someone might use them for piracy).
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Old 11-08-2012, 12:39 PM   #15
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Wow, this reminds me of Hal Spacejock world where copying your own media files can trigger arrival of inter galactic peace force at your doorstep. Maybe we are already living in future
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