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Canadian Copyright Reform would make me and my family into criminals.

IPod touch

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Friday, a day after the government tabled its bill on copyright reform, I got a call back from my MP, Pierre Poilievre. I had telephoned him earlier in the week to talk about the rumours I had heard about copyright.

Pierre hadn’t read the bill, but asked what my concerns were anyway. I told him that I couldn’t support the bill because it would make my family into criminals.

First, like many Canadian families we have a stereo in the living room. Over the years we’ve accumulated a tidy collection of CD’s. These are our CD’s for use by our family. They were purchased with family funds. We buy them to share with each other. And, frequently, we rip them to our iPods, play them on our computers, and play them using the networked music appliance I installed by the pool years ago. All of those innocent activities would be illegal under Bill C-61. We would have to own a separate CD for each and every iPod we own in our family in order to be legal.

We have 350 CD’s in our collection and 7 members of our family. If we assume an average cost of $15 per CD, Bill C-61 would result in a bill of 6x$15×350 or $31,500 for us to become legal.

Second, like many other families, we have a collection of DVD’s. Under Bill C-61, we would not be allowed to use those DVDs except in the DVD player attached to our TV. That just isn’t realistic. We regularly RIP those DVDs for playback on our iPods, the Nokia N810 tablet, or a PC. It’s a common and innocent way to use the license for the media that we paid for, and I don’t intend to stop doing it. Yes, the entertainment industry attempts to restrict my use of those DVDs by locking them. I unlock them using Slysoft’s excellent AnyDVD software. The entertainment industry were idiots to lock them in the first place, given the prevalence of digital playback devices. Besides, I paid for a license to the content – not the media, but the content on the media. I should be able to use it in any way that I choose.

If the entertainment industry and the government of Canada want to make ordinary citizens into criminals over innocent actions, then I say “Bring it on”. We’ll see civil disobedience on a scale that has never been seen before in this country.

I doubt it will get to that however. Saturday afternoon I also got a call from Pierre’s fundraising team, asking for my financial help in getting the Conservatives ready to fight an election. I told the person on the phone that I couldn’t support the party while they were proposing legislation that would make me, my wife, and my children into criminals.

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • stevex June 16, 2008, 3:46 am

    I emailed Pierre as well; I haven't heard back from him yet.

  • Aydin Mirzaee June 16, 2008, 7:01 am

    wow, I had no idea… I'm glad we have you watching out for us :)


  • Rich Loen June 16, 2008, 12:52 pm

    It'll also be illegal to keep a whole season's worth of a TV show on your PVR. It's a terrible bill.

  • Brendon J. Wilson June 17, 2008, 7:22 pm

    Hmm, that’s an interesting point. At first, I wasn’t so so sure about your argument that you’d have to have a separate copy of a CD for each iPod, so I checked it out. Section 29.22 (1) (d) states:

    “29.22 (1) It is not an infringement of copyright for an individual to reproduce onto a medium or device a musical work embodied in a sound recording, a performer’s performance of a musical work embodied in a sound recording, or a sound recording in which a musical work or a performer’s performance of a musical work is embodied, or any substantial part of such a work or other subject-matter, if the following conditions are met:

    (d) the individual reproduces the sound recording no more than once for each device that the individual owns, whether the reproduction is made directly onto the device or is made onto a medium that is to be used with the device;”

    The key here is “once for each device that the individual owns”. It depends on who “owns” the iPods in your family. If your kids and spouse own their iPods, it’s a problem. If you own them, however, it would appear that it’s not a problem.

  • Gary Patton January 7, 2009, 11:50 am

    Your article is clearer and more helpful than any I've read since June, Alec! Thank you for your easy-to-understand examples.

    Re Brendon's point, this is typicalof legislation written by lawyers.
    1. They often know little about the subject about which they write complex laws and then only have peers review their drafts.
    2. Leave all kinds of basic issues unclear that, once passed into law, then must be decided by the Courts in slow, expensive litigation. Dah! (I've always wondered whether this might be self-erving for the legal industry.)

    Blessings all!

    @GaryFPatton in TO

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