Canadian government gives businesses greater powers over copyright

The conservative Canadian government is giving consumers permission to copy content for personal use, while expanding the ability of businesses to digitally lock their products to prevent anyone from actually doing it, reports the Toronto Star. The Canadian government is trying to modernize copyright legislation—last updated in that nation when a cassette deck was still a standard feature on a stereo system—by introducing a bill that would finally legalize what thousands of Canadians have been doing for years. That means it would no longer be against the law to record television programs for later viewing or copy songs from compact discs onto a computer so they can be transferred onto an MP3 player. At the same time, the bill tabled in the House of Commons on June 2 would make it illegal for consumers to break any technological protection measures—so-called “digital locks”—that prevent unauthorized access to the copyrighted material, with fines of up to a million dollars and five years in jail. That is expected to be the most hotly debated aspect of the amendments contained in Bill C-32, as consumer advocates and online technology experts say this amounts to the government giving with one hand and taking away with the other. “We’re quite disappointed by it, because although there is exception for educational and research purposes, it is essentially trumped by the anti-circumvention rules in the legislation,” said David Robinson, associate executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. “I think there is a real danger that the large publishing and entertainment industries are going to put locks on [their content] as a way of increasing their profits, and I think that is going to have a real impact on our ability in our sector to do research, to innovate, and to be creative.”

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