Consumers lose in copyright bill
It's been several years in the making, but Canada's copyright bill has finally cleared the House of Commons and is set to pass before summer.
Even so, the question remains: who really benefits — consumers or creators?
Bill C-11 covers a wide gamut that includes the production, sale, distribution and consumption of digital content, including music, video, electronic books and software. In this day and age, that adds up to a huge percentage of our entertainment and information.
On the one hand it allows consumers to make copies or backups of copyrighted work for personal use. But rights holders can create "digital locks" that allow them to restrict or prohibit copying — even for personal use.
Anyone who tries to get around these digital locks can be fined.
So even though Canadians are allowed to copy content from, say, a CD to an iPod, they could still be stopped if the content has a digital lock on it. This could take the form of encryption or digital signatures.
Copying is allowed — unless it's not. It's hard to see how consumers could possibly be considered winners in this scenario.
The bill seems tilted not only toward the rights of content creators in Canada, but also in the United States and other countries.
Now that Bill C-11 is close to passing, Canada is suddenly being ushered into negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Tories have long coveted a place at the table because this trade market — with members on both sides of the Pacific — has a population numbering in the hundreds of millions and boasts a gross domestic product totalling around $20 trillion.
But the United States and other TPP countries have demanded stricter controls on digital products before letting Canada apply to join their club. Bill C-11 doesn't go as far as the U.S. had pushed for, but it no doubt goes further than many Canadians would have liked.
Watch for more Canadian legislation created by foreign lobbies as the federal government gives up bits and pieces of our sovereignty in the name of economic prosperity.
Is it a fair trade-off? If membership in the TPP leads to a boost in the economy, we may be tempted to forget what we have given up. Otherwise, the Tories will have to answer some tough questions.