I try to make this blog educational, and Bill C-11 is a topic that really can't be talked enough about. If you haven't read at least one article on the new copyright bill, you owe it to yourself to at least have a quick read. At a glance you may feel that it's unlikely to affect you or that you're comfortable with the measures being proposed, but what is going on is really quite sinister.
The first thing to note - if it hasn't sunk in - is that digital locks trump everything. Yes, you are now allowed to make backup copies or move from one device to another. Yes, you are now allowed to make temporary recordings of broadcasts for later consumption. Yes, you are allowed to use copyrighted content for fair use purposes such as education, satire, and parody. Yes, you are allowed to incorporate legally-acquired copyrighted content into your own non-commercial work. But every single one of these permitted actions can be nullified by digital locks.
Also consider that such practices such as region locking would also fall under this provision. At first glance this might not appear to be an issue, but consider that content from Europe and Asia may not be available in a version locked to the North American region. We therefore find that these rules may restrict the migration and influence of culture from other parts of the world.
There's also the lock-in factor. Not only could digital locks be used to tie content to a particular device, locks on the device itself could potentially be used to deny alternative content. This could give rise to anti-competitive behavior in the marketplace.
The one thing that doesn't seem to get touched on is that fact that the party to apply a digital lock to the content won't necessarily be the rights holder. In fact, I would guess that the vast majority of the time this won't be the case. The e-Book George R. R. Martin's next novel won't be encrypted by Martin himself or his publisher, rather Amazon will do so before placing it on Kindle Store. There have even been cases of Amazon using their DRM to place restrictions on works in the public domain, which by definition should have no such impediments.
You won't hear many artists and creators speaking in favour of the digital locks provision. More often than not, they're railing against it just like the rest of us. In the end, they stand little - if anything - to gain by the locks. They will not be the ones who see the money from court settlements over circumvention lawsuits. Restricting legal purchasers' ability to share their content is unlikely to significantly increase their sales as legal purchasers probably weren't the ones who would disseminate the artists work copiously and the pirates aren't likely to knuckle under and buy the music. Instead reducing exposure to a potential audience or having their existing audience driven away by restrictive policies.
There's even more to this ugly bill, but I'll save that for next time.