Copyright-related Policy summary

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A version of this copyright policy summary was first presented to officials at Heritage Canada on December 1, 2006. The document presented at that time is available in OpenDocument, PDF and HTML versions.

An updated version was created in July 2008, after the tabling of Conservative Bill C-61. It hilights critical differences between the Liberal bill and the Conservative bill, and offers explanations of frequently asked questions about our proposals. Available in OpenDocument, PDF and HTML versions.

Key positions, without the details included in the policy summary, are included below.

Petitions: CLUE endorses both the "Petition for Users Rights (in Copyright)" and the "Petition to protect Information Technology property rights" as organized by the Digital Copyright Canada forum.

Primary Copyright related concerns:

  • We disagree with the legalization or legal protection of techniques used by copyright holders to encode their content such that it can only be accessed with "authorized" technology brands.
  • We disagree with the legalization or legal protection of techniques used by device manufacturers to lock down devices such that their owners are considered attackers, where someone other than the owner controls the keys, or where owners are otherwise not able to control their technology for lawful or make their own software choices. Hardware owners must be able to make their own software choices, in order to chose our software.
  • We disagree with government promotion or mandating of royalty-based business models over fixed-cost based models used in peer production and peer distribution such as FLOSS.

Policy proposals:

  • Canada should take the lead from our trading partners and adopt a living "fair use" model. This should include carving out from copyright private activities such as time, space and device shifting of legally acquired content. Canadians should not need permission or payment to carry out these activities which most Canadians already believe is legal.
  • Canada should put "clarifying and simplifying the act" as the top priority for the revision process. Many Canadians carry out activities which they believe are legal, but which the act doesn't allow, as well as not carrying out legal activities which they believe may be illegal.
  • Canada should clarify and simplify the term of copyright, resisting any proposals to extend and/or obfuscate the expiry date of copyright. For example, the term for photography should be a fixed 50 years from when the picture was taken, and not 50 years from the death of the (most often unknown) photographer.
  • Extended/statutory (compulsory) licenses should only be used in extreme cases of market failure, and never in marketplaces where competition is growing. Royalty-free business models are rapidly growing worldwide in software as well as scientific and educational material.
  • The 1996 WIPO treaties were primarily aimed at protecting incumbent business models from disruption from competitors (1994/1995 National Information Infrastructure task force in the USA). While it is ideal that the 1996 treaties not be implemented or ratified at all since we are under no obligation to do so (Knopf, etc), there are ways to implement that are less harmful.

    • Do not extend copyright to include a new "right of interoperability" where authors can encode their content to only be interoperable with chosen brands of access technology.
    • Ensure that legal protection for technical measures only extend to infringing acts , and not simply "unauthorized" acts. This critical issue was articulated in the 1996 WIPO treaties and the proposed Liberal Bill C-60.
    • Clarify that software is neither a "device" (as interpreted in the USA with relation to their DMCA) nor a "service" (as could be misinterpreted in the context of C-60 ), and that there would be no prohibition over the authoring, distribution or use of software that had substantial non-infringing uses.

  • Intermediaries should not be liable when they are simply acting on behalf of their customers, or providing solutions under the control of customers. The "notice and notice" regime for ISPs proposed in Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 should be retained. Authors of software with non-infringing uses should similarly not be held liable for any abuses of that software to infringe copyright.