Copyright storm is coming

There is a bit of a storm coming on the copyright front. Michael Geist has some interest commentary over at Fair Copyright for Canada as well as his own blog about the politics behind the upcoming changed being proposed by Industry Minister Jim Prentice. Basically the draft bill being proposed will erode fair use and anti-circumvention provisions of the Canadian copyright act.

There are some pretty major impacts for business here that are not appearant on the surface. The first is that since CD’s and DVD’s include some form of copy protection duplication would be considered legal under the proposed changes, but the distribution of software to allow duplication would be illegal based on the anti-circumvention clauses. That raises the question of just how you would go about backing up your software media? Same idea with cell phones. We regularly “unlock” our phones to allow staff to use “pay-as-you-go” cards in Europe or the US. At $30-80 per phone, this is still significantly cheaper for us than dealing with $1.75/minute or higher roaming charges from Rogers. Under the new provisions, unlocking is clearly exempt but the software to do so is not. This leaves me as the question again of how we would go about unlocking the phones under the proposed provisions.

The second aspect for me are the per-download fines. With fines of up-to $500 per file, you can just imagine the impact this might have if one of your users setup peer-to-peer software on one of their computers. With Azureus, an installess java based bittorrent package, even running a locked down desktop architecture will not be enough to prevent installation. Tied to how some of the bittorrent packages are able to use port redirection etc… well you know how porous your firewall can be. The point here is that a single user doing this could leave an organization liable since they are the ones providing the equipment and bandwidth. The way CRIA has been pounding the copyright reform drum, you can be guaranteed the lawsuits will start flowing once that provision is in.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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