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Why you should fear the Copyright Act
Naturally when you buy your iPhone, you’re going to want to load some of your music on it. However, the new Canadian Copyright Act presented last week creates new restrictions for downloading music, copying songs to CDs, unlocking cellphones and time-shifting television shows (e.g. watching a Ontario network in B.C. to see Letterman three hours earlier). The legislation would also make it illegal to break technical locks on media, which means that you can’t even copy CDs protected by digital right management software to your computer, or record certain television programs with security coding.
I can see Pay Per View stations wanting to prevent people from recording new movies, but there’s nothing in the legislation to stop television networks from adding locks to just about everything to prevent you from recording shows and fast-forwarding through the commercials. The lock used doesn’t even have to work or make any sense, it just has to be there.
This is the same Act that stirred up a minor firestorm last year when some of its content was still just a rumour, prompting artists, librarians, telecommunications businesses, and a 40,000 member strong Facebook group to protest. It opens the doors for all kinds of civil actions that could have a negative effect on arts and culture in the country.
Canada’s current Copyright Act actually expired in May after being written in 1985 (with amendments through the 90s and 00s), and obviously a lot has changed since then. There’s no question that the legislation needs to be updated, but you have to wonder who the government talked to when creating the update — The music industry, which has long lobbied for the right to sue downloaders and ISPs for illegal music sharing? The film industry, which has accused Canada of being a bootlegger’s paradise? Foreign governments that want Canada to sign on to ACTA, making it illegal to transport illegally copied material like MP3s across the border on your laptop or iPod?
It’s a safe bet that the new Copyright Act will never pass without some give and take on both sides, but I get the feeling that Canadians will have to be content to move sideways instead of forward when it comes to issues of copyright.
Website of the Week
There are a number of important releases to mention. One is the release of the Opera 9.5 browser, which I’ve never personally used but is getting rave reviews from people who know far more than me. It’s apparently the only browser to pass the Acid 3 test, which basically means it reads more formats, programming languages and plug-ins than other browsers, and does it all very fast. It’s also apparently very secure, and very user-friendly. To try it, visit http://my.opera.com.