CSIA Green Sheet

Canadian Software Innovation Alliance Green Sheet

Know your rights as an open source developer!

The Copyright Act isn't only about stopping people from copying music, movies, and software. Copyright law is also about balance between the rights of creators and the rights of users, and the Copyright Act makes sure of that.

As an open source developer or consultant, there are two parts of the Copyright Act you should know about: they give you the rights to make interoperable software, reverse engineer existing programs, and conduct security research. Without these rights, it would be almost impossible to make competitive software alternatives or learn more about computer security systems like TPMs. Know your rights, and help make sure that open source software continues to have this kind of support in Canadian copyright law.

Sections of the Copyright Act supporting the rights to make interoperable software, reverse engineer existing programs, and conduct security research:

Fair dealing lets people conduct research including reverse engineering and security research. Section 29 of the Copyright Act says:

Fair Dealing
Research or private study
29. Fair dealing for the purpose of research or private study does not infringe copyright.

There are also special rules allowing people to modify or adapt a computer program to make systems that can work together. Section 30.6 of the Copyright Act says:

Computer Programs
Permitted acts
30.6 It is not an infringement of copyright in a computer program for a person who owns a copy of the computer program that is authorized by the owner of the copyright to
(a) make a single reproduction of the copy by adapting, modifying or converting the computer program or translating it into another computer language if the person proves that the reproduced copy is
(i) essential for the compatibility of the computer program with a particular computer,
(ii) solely for the person's own use, and
(iii) destroyed immediately after the person ceases to be the owner of the copy; or
(b) make a single reproduction for backup purposes of the copy or of a reproduced copy referred to in paragraph (a) if the person proves that the reproduction for backup purposes is destroyed immediately when the person ceases to be the owner of the copy of the computer program.