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Canada's DMCA, Ripping Now Illegal, "notice-and-notice", And Hollywood Is Happy

Posted by: , 16:06 AEST, Sat October 1, 2011

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Canada is set to reform its copyright laws, to bring in US style anti-circumvention rules which would take away existing consumer rights when it comes to copying and backing up copy protected content they've legally purchased

The Canadian Conservative government is attempting, for the third time, to re-introduce new legislation that would take away rights Canadian consumers currently enjoy, and hand over more power to US interests. The new laws will also force ISPs to pass on infringement notices to subscribers, or face hefty civil liabilities.

The major change for consumers would be the removal of fair use rights when it comes to circumventing digital locks (DRM), which under the current laws, would not lead to any legal repercussions if the removal was for personal use. For example, Canadians could purchase DVDs from overseas and remove region protection in order to watch the film, but under the new laws, the same action could lead to a $5,000 infringement fine, although just how it can be enforced is another question.

Liberal Heritage critic Scott Simms attacked the proposed "digital lock" provision "which so many Canadians oppose, appear to be driven completely by U.S interests."

New Democratic Party MP and copyright critic also found the "digital lock" provision to be excessive, as it would "criminalize consumers for doing what is something that should be fairly straightforward."

Facing a possible public outlash over these changes, the Conservative Party has refused to back down. Heritage Minister James Moore said that personal copying and backup "are potentially really quite disastrous," and that the "digital lock" provision is "not about anything other than empowering creators with the tools to protect themselves from those who would steal from them."

The other major proposed change is the "notice-and-notice" system, whereby ISPs could face civil liabilities if they did not record subscriber traffic records, and pass on infringement notices to users. Currently, the law does not specify further actions that ISPs need to take, such as account suspensions.

The Motion Picture Association of Canada, which represents US movie studio interests in the country, welcomed the changes. "We support the government's commitment to give copyright owners the tools they need to combat online content theft, and promote creativity, innovation and legitimate business models," said Wendy Noss, the MPAC's executive director.



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