Lulu Inc. CEO Bob Young is a major voice in the open source software industry, but according to him the entire community has been unjustifiably ignored throughout the government’s copyright reform initiatives.
Last year, the Conservative government vowed to adopt copyright laws which would make it illegal to modify or remove any device or software fitted with a technical protection measures (TPMs). After months of hearsay and numerous delays, the buzz on Parliament Hill now suggests a proposed copyright bill from Industry Minister Jim Prentice is imminent.
In the wake of these rumours – which many industry activists have begun referring to as the Canadian version of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – a new open source software alliance has added their name to the lengthy list of opposition to the Industry Minister’s soon-to-be-unveiled legislation.
From ComputerWorld Canada
“The copyright philosophy behind the U.S. DMCA is that it’s illegal to do what software engineers do every day of the week and what they’ll have to continue to do in order to build better technology for all companies,” Bob Young, spokesperson for the Canadian Software Innovation Alliance (CSIA) and a former founder and CEO at Red Hat Inc., said. “The biggest concern is we’re going to have law substitute for good technology. We’re crafting these laws without having anyone from the technology industry engaged in the process.”
One of the CSIA’s primary concerns is the impact that potential copyright reform could have on the open source community. In a letter to the Industry Minister earlier this week, the CSIA said that because open source developers rely on copyright law to create their software, failing to balance restrictions on software modification would severely limit innovation.
“Software development requires access to computer programs for many reasons, including the need to develop innovative functionality extensions or follow-on software, to undertake security research, to make code interoperable, and to research functionality, including reverse engineering code to identify functionality,” the letter stated. “Sound copyright policy requires a proper balancing of these rights and restrictions, giving creators some control over their creations while ensuring that others can work with and build upon them without prohibitive or unfair restrictions.”