Posts tagged “Copyright/DRM”

Canada, Copyright & Filtering

The Globe and Mail has picked up the story but suggests that filtering for copyright reasons is unlikely:

“Canadian ISPs have been defiant,” said Mark Tauschek, a senior networks and telecom research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group. “They have refused to co-operate. They have said the Internet is an open network and they aren’t going to police the content that goes across it … unless there is criminality involved, they won’t cough up information or necessarily block content.”

What’s interesting here is “unless there is criminality involved.” See, the major ISP’s already filter URLs that contain images of child abuse and may soon be expanding into other issue areas. The filtering technology is in place, it can be extended further. The issue here is that ISP’s don’t want to be in a position of judging content, they don’t want to rule on whether something is criminal or not, but should that responsibility be delegated to some legitimate authority they don’t seem to have any problem with filtering. It seems that filtering for reasons of copyright is not likely to be happening anytime soon. Still, it is an issue worth paying close attention to, as mission creep generally follows the implementation of filtering. It is also worth following closely due to the fact that other countries, particularly the U.S. and Europe are also moving in the direction of filtering for copyright reasons.

Using a technique similar to that of the GFW of China, Comcast is interfering with bittorrent and other traffic. Other ISP’s in the U.S. are also considering implementing filtering. An ISP in Denmark, TDC, blocked to comply with a legal ruling. There have been proposals to implement filtering for copyright reasons in Belgium, Norway, France and other European countries. While the EFF reports that proposed Amendments put before the EU’s Committee on Culture and Education, which included ISP filtering, have been withdrawn or voted down they caution that there may still be attempts to introduce such language before the actual Parliamentary vote.

Will 2008 become the “Year of the Filters“?

Canada: Copyright Lobby Wants Filtering?

In a meeting with the editorial board of the Ottawa Citizen the Canadian Copyright Lobby indicated at several times that they support ISP filtering. Part of the reasoning is based on the belief that consumers say “if you made it impossible for me, if you stopped me, I would just get on with my life and yeah I would return to the market place and I’d buy things.” (28:26) As Prof. Michael Geist notes:

Henderson cites with approval several initiatives to move toward ISP filtering of content, pointing to a French report, comments from the UK that such legislation could be forthcoming, and the AT&T negotiations in the U.S.  Later in the conversation, the group is asked what their dream legislation would look like.  The first response?  ISP liability, with the respondent pointing to Belgium as an example of an ideal model (“the file sharing issue will go away there as ISPs take down people”).  Last summer, a Belgian court ordered an ISP to install filtering software to identify and block copyrighted content (the decision is currently being appealed).

Some other interesting notes from the conversation include the persistent attempts by the Copyright Lobby to highlight the fact that they do not like the changes they want made to the Copyright Act to be referred to or compared to the U.S. DMCA despite the fact that a version of the DMCA is in fact what they want. To accomplish this they continually refer to WIPO, arguing that Canada should just implement WIPO.

There’s an interesting exchange concerning Fair Use rights in which a question is asked concerning how someone would use a 8 second clip of a half-hour show on a blog if the clip is encrypted (DRM protected). The response was a somewhat hostile attack on the person who asked the question concerning an assumption that the Government will somehow outlaw fair dealing which is quite odd since they are explicitly lobbying for an anti-circumvention clause which would outlaw fair dealing in the case presented in the question. It is too bad the questioner did not pursue this line of question more avidly.

As Geist points out, the principles that advocates of fair Copyright want are not necessarily at odds with interpretations of WIPO. WIPO provides for Limitations and Exceptions and even has a document that discusses many such limitations. It is clear that simply ignoring the consequences of implementing new measures, such as anti-circumvention, will leave many unanswered questions regarding Fair Use/Fair Dealing which is why Fair Copyright for Canada wants explicit protections put in place.

Canadian “DMCA” On Hold

Jim Prentice (Conservative), Minister of Industry, has delayed the introduction of amendments to the Copyright Act that are being called a Canadian “DMCA”.

The issue has caught fire in personal and consumer blogs on the Internet, led by Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa.

The Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group now has over 17,000 members and the opposition is growing. The public is concerned that the balance that copyright legislation is supposed to maintain between the interests of creators and the interests of the general public is being distorted. The new amendments reportedly introduce “anti-circumvention” measures which prevent Canadians from using legally purchased media and technology in the ways they want. Also, it includes no flexible fair dealing and exceptions for parody, time shifting and device shifting or expanded backup provision. Finally Canadians are pissed off, that’s a technical term, because the public was never consulted while industry lobby groups were.

P2P & the Purchase of Music

In The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study for Industry Canada researchers found “no direct evidence to suggest that the net effect of P2P file-sharing on CD purchasing is either positive or negative for Canada as a whole.” However, when it comes to the “Canadian P2P file-sharing subpopulation” the study found that Canadians who engage in P2P file-sharing actually buy more music. For every 12 downloaded songs, CD purchases increase by 0.44.

With respect to the other effects, roughly half of all P2P tracks were downloaded because individuals wanted to hear songs before buying them or because they wanted to avoid purchasing the whole bundle of songs on the associated CDs and roughly one quarter were downloaded because they were not available for purchase.

This “‘market creation’ effect of P2P file-sharing” is interesting indeed. Through P2P file sharing one can access content that is not available for purchase.

It will be interesting to see how the Music Industry responds. The Industry presents correlative evidence, that in the last five sales have decreased by $465 million while P2P file sharing has increased, to suggest that they’ve been losing money due to file-sharing but this report dismantles that claim. This report may also be helpful in reaffirming the “private copying” prevision in the Copyright Act that enables Canadians to legally copy and share music.

The Copyright Act contains a special exception for “private copying”: it permits the copying of music files “onto an audio recording medium for the private use of the person who makes the copy”, but does not permit copying for the purpose of “distributing” or “communicating to the public by telecommunication” (s.80). It is generally accepted that downloading music for personal use is legal under this section.

CDN Gov’t pays Lobby to Lobby

Michael Geist reports that the Canadian government is giving nearly $400,000 to the Creators’ Rights Alliance (CRA) to produce “research” on on copyright reform. While some of the CRA’s members are small organizations others it also includes organizations that “already employ external lobbyists with millions of dollars budgeted for copyright regulatory hearings and reform.”

Internal correspondence also reveals that the contract was designed to further the department’s own policy objectives. A senior official outlined the rationale behind the proposed contract, stating in an email that once the CRA funding was complete, “we should have streamlined, stable funding to an organization whose structure, purpose and activities suit our own policy needs.”

Those activities were clearly identified in an email to Canadian Heritage from CRA’s co-chair who commented that “the job of taking on the educational sector on copyright reform is clearly a huge and major undertaking,” adding that education was a “well heeled, publicly funded lobby . . . devoted to abolishing creators’ rights on the Internet.”

I don’t even know what to say.

Proposal to allow Canadian ISPs to remove content

A proposal floated at the Canadian Telecom Summit by the Canadian Jewish Congress would give ISPs the power to remove pornography and hate speech “at their own discretion”. Despite the fact that finding content to be illegal takes a ” lengthy court process” Bernie Farber, chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, suggests that “[i]t doesn’t take a lot to discern what is pornographic and what is hate” and the ISPs “have some expertise to make those decisions”. Farber’s response to worries about consumer’s objections to having content arbitrarily removed is “let them sue you”.

There are some very serious problems with this approach. First, pornography is not illegal in this country, second ISP’s are not the best judges of legality. They have proven to be horribly inept at it, especially when it comes to takedowns for copyright violations.

Actually ISPs are already removing content at their discretion. And in contrast to the optimism expressed by some, it does not solve the problem. When sites are taken down they simply move to other providers.

This is where the slippery slope begins. The calls for “takedown” immediately move to blocking and filtering. In discussing the proposal, Det. Don McKinnon, of the hate crimes unit, supports filtering:

“The technology that is available . . . is much similar to call blocking,” said McKinnon, explaining it’s basically a website blocker.

The introduction of a system plagued with procedural and technical problems simply because the legal solution involves a “lengthy court process” ignores the issue at hand. If judicial speed is the issue fix it, don’t bypass our system of checks and balances in way that has proven to be detrimental to freedom of speech and expression. ISPs and techies should not be considered replacements for judges and lawyers. Yes, there are challenges to combating hate speech online but difficulty should not be a deterrent.

Australia: Censorship & Surveillance

A spoof site of Australian Prime Minister John Howard was shut down due to presure from the government. The closure is reportedly due to a phone complaint from the PM’s office to the Melbourne IT Ltd ( the domain registrar for the website The compaint contended that the parody website was a “phishing” site, something usually associent with identity theft schemes or other scams.

Now, ICANN has a dispute policy that should be followed in cases such as this. While similar to the case mentioned by Reporters Without Borders this case is different because ICANN regulates the .org domain. In this case the registrar appears to have violated the ICANN rules. The changes were made to the domain name without 1) consent from the owner, 2) receipt of an order from a court… or 3) receipt of a decision of an Administrative Panel…

The web host was not the target, but rather just the domain registrar. The website was hosted on Yahoo and is still accessible if you access the the original site by directly connecting to the IP ( on Yahoo’s host and manually feeding in the HTTP HOST header

As if censorship was not enough Australia has now passed a new surveillance law. MEAA/IFEX explains:

New laws, passed by the Senate yesterday, give law enforcement agencies power to intercept phone calls, emails and text messages of innocent people. This extreme surveillance law poses a severe threat to press freedom – journalists can assume their conversations with sources will be intercepted at any time, says Australia’s media union.

Spies, police and other security agencies will be able to use B-party warrants to tap phones belonging to a suspect’s family, friends, colleagues and lawyer. Other agencies, such as the Australian Tax Office, Customs, and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), will have the power to access stored communications such as email and SMS.

Groups such as Electronic Frontiers Australia have been monitoring the growing body of censorship laws in Australia. The Labor Party is promising to bring in national filtering if elected — to protect children of course, not to silence critics. Of course, as we have seen in the past, filtering is subject to mission creep:

Regardless of the initial reason for implementing Internet filtering, there is increasing pressure to expand its use once the filtering infrastructure is in place.

It’s not *only* happening in China folks.

Questions & Answers

CTV’s “Ask Us”, (video clip here) tries to answer a question from a viewer regarding copyright in Canada:

“When I was going to university a professor of mine said it’s legal to download music in Canada because the music industry is already compensated for their loss through taxes on blank CD’s and cassettes. Is this true?”

Downloading “music” is legal! The question is, I assume, about downloading copyrighted music (which should also be distinguished from “uploading”). Quoting the Copyright Board of Canada, CTV says that downloading music from the Internet is in fact legal for personal use and the copy must be made to a tape or CD. As Russell McOrmond accurately points out, downloading is legal but uploading is not, despite the fact that the CRIA lost their most recent case against “uploaders”. The CRIA lost because they presented a lousy case.

So why does CTV then highlight that the CRIA says it is illegal? Is it legal or illegal, just answer the question.

Canadian Copyright & ISP Liability

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage re-introduced the Interim Report on Copyright Reform suggesting that reform is neccessary for Canada to comply with WIPO. outlines the major proposed changes including the adoption of a “notice and takedown” approach to copyright violations and holding ISP’s liable (unless they act as true “intermediaries”) for copyrighted material passing through their networks.
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Link to this site?

The Athens 2004 website carries a lengthy statement on their “Hyperlink Policy”. The Policy states that for “your protection and ours” one must send a “request letter” containing a brief description of your website, the reason for linking and the period of time you intend to link for. After (e)mailing the request (and agreeing to several other conditions) one may link to their site. However, if your hyperlink is not approved you will recieve notice that your link request has not been accepted. I have sent a request, we’ll see if I’m denied permission.
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No Royalties for SOCAN; File Sharing Legal

The Supreme court of Canada rejected the claim of the The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada that Canadian Internet Providers should pay royalties because some of their customers download copyrighted works (SOCAN v CAIP). This follows another loss in which the Canadian Music industry tried to get the names of persons they alleged shared copyrighted mp3 files (CRIA v ISPs). In both cases the issues of “communication” and “authorization” along with balancing the rights of users and copyright holders were under discussion. The SOCAN v CAIP decision was clear: ISP’s are not liable for the file sharing activities of their users. However, there were some major screw-ups by the CRIA which lead to some interesting conclusions in the CRIA v ISPs case.
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