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C-61 - Smells like... Canadian Coffee · Sunday June 22, 2008 by Crosbie Fitch

The Canadian version of the DMCA, arriving late to a wiser party, finds its reception muted.

Those Canadians receving it, who recognise something is rotten in the state of Denmark, figure the C-61 medicine is harsher than it needs to be.

Unfortunately, such canny citizens are still outnumbered 10 to 1 by those who’ve been properly educated with the “If it ain’t hurting it ain’t working” principle who are happy to be convinced that the more efficacious copyright’s enforcement measures are, the better it is for all lovers of creative works.

On the other hand, those who now recognise that copyright is actually a cultural constraint causing damage in proportion to its fortification, and to be abolished rather than fortified, realise such heliocentric heresy holds little appeal to any audience.

So the only Canadian voices we hear in anything resembling dissent of copyright and its reinforcement by C-61 are those asking for less harshness, and greater balance. In other words those demanding “What the heck are you doing in my home?”

Copyright has only just started affecting the public’s liberty, since the public has only recently had tools that so promiscuously infringe copyright (aka ‘share and build upon published culture’). Predictably, the public have little problem with commercial privileges as long as they don’t affect them as individuals, so they say “Look, keep your publishing monopolies if that’s your bag, but don’t start telling me what I can or can’t do with the cultural works I purchase”.

With C-61 there are a minority of more technologically adept Canadians who aren’t too happy about its implications for the domestic liberties they are familiar with, e.g. transferring CDs to iPods and DVDs to portable movie players.

C-61 says “Sure, you can copy that which you are permitted to copy, but not that which you are not.” Denigrating C-61’s harsh penalties (against those who do attempt to copy that which is not copyable) as applying only to a tiny criminal underclass, its proponents also fatuously argue that if enough citizens prefer copyable media then that’s what the market will provide.

So what hope is there for citizens seeking balance?

None.

Ultimately, you either have copyright law that prohibits copying of published works in order to create a commercial privilege for publishers, or you don’t have such a law, and anyone can copy published works to their heart’s content.

You can’t have it both ways, and the industry knows this. There is no balance available. It is not possible to legitimise domestic copying if copyright is to remain even remotely viable.

Just as with the US DMCA and the European EUCD, C-61 is about reinforcing copyright, not balancing, compromising, or reforming it.

And this is the way it will go. Copyright legislation will keep on being added to with ever more draconian enforcement measures.

Well, it’ll go like that until you get to the point at which the worm turns, i.e. the culturally repressed populace decides that enough is enough.

The moment you allow domestic copying is the moment copyright is essentially completely emasculated and impotent. It is already ineffective at preventing copying, but it still at least has enough teeth to prosecute unwitting families in CRIA’s educational campaigns (C-61 adds another row of sharper teeth).

So, at least understand why C-61 is the way it is, and that asking for the legalisation of domestic copying is like asking for copyright’s abolition. You can then understand why those seeking ‘balance’ will not get it, unless they unwittingly obtain copyright’s abolition in the process (which is pretty unlikely).

We will instead see the granting of facile pseudo-concessions, such as permission to make temporary, private copies of those things the copyright holder has not secured against such copying.

Things will get worse before they get better.

Far too few Canadians have yet caught the whiff of coffee in their cultural slumber.



 

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