Industry Canada responds to Bill C-61 concerns

In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada Monday, an Industry Canada official defended Bill C-61, which critics contend would discourage security researchers.

Though the bill prohibits the circumvention of technological measures, it includes exemptions which are “very favourable to the high tech sector,” said Albert Cloutier, director of the copyright and international intellectual property policy directorate at Industry Canada.

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“The government believes the rights holders need these new measures to protect their materials in order to give them the confidence to develop new business models and offer more to consumers in the digital environment,” he said. “The measures have to be strong enough to ensure these objectives are not undermined.”

But University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist said Bill C-61 is still overly restrictive.
“The cleanest way of addressing this is the approach that was taken under Bill C-60, where the government at the time recognized that rather than engaging in a laundry list of exemptions, simply said it’s only a violation of the law to circumvent where you’re doing so for the purposes of copyright infringement,” he said.

Brian O’Higgins, chief technology officer of Ottawa-based Third Brigade Inc., agreed.
“The problem is when you start going down the route of exemptions and then you try to draft language around it, you start to look silly after a few years because the exemption that you thought was nice and good turns out to be very narrow and you didn’t intend it to be so narrow, because technology keeps changing,” he said.

O’Higgins is also spokesman for the Digital Security Coalition, a group of vendors (which also includes Certicom) that is lobbying the government to reconsider Bill C-61.
Any problems with the exemptions under Bill C-61 can be worked out later, Industry Canada contends.

“The review of the bill by a parliamentary committee will provide an opportunity to debate amendments,” Cloutier said. “The bill gives the government the power to add new exceptions by regulation once the impact of this digital locks protection can be tangibly measured, so the government can make course corrections if that’s necessary. I have to say, so far no one has raised specific problems with the way the proposed exceptions would operate.”

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