Friday, November 4, 2011

Bill C-11, Part 2: We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!

[Just in case anyone finds the origin and evolution of mis-quotations interesting - as I do - you can get the scoop on my selected title]

Last time I talked mostly about the implications of digital locks and their ability to wipe out any rights Bill C-11 grants. From further reading it sounds like the exemptions are not governed by the locks policy; the anti-circumvention rule is only applicable in cases deemed infringement. However, my position remains the same. Circumvention methods will likely be targeted for litigation, regardless of the context they are used in.  And once again, we will almost certainly see burden of proof placed on the supposed 'infringer', an individual or group without the means to adequately defend their perfectly reasonable actions in a legal setting against the onslaught of a large media corporation's legal team.

But there's also another scary part to the bill.  If passed, it would make mandatory the "notice and notice" system that is currently used on a voluntary basis by Canadian internet service providers.  For those unfamiliar with the "notice and notice" system, it works like this: an Internet service provider receives notice from a copyright holder (which these days means large organizations like the RIAA/MPAA) that one of it's subscribers may be engaged in infringement by making available copyrighted material.  The ISP then has the option - now obligation - to forward that notice to the subscriber and keep records on their identity for six months.  No further action is taken by the ISP; they do not forward on the subscribers information, remove the supposed offending material, or punish the subscriber.

While this is still undeniably better than the notice-and-takedown system found in the states, I have a couple issues with this system. Firstly, we're once again seeing a great deal of power placed in the hands of organizations like the RIAA and MPAA to stir up trouble unchecked. They do not have to go through any law enforcement or judicial body to verify their actions are just; there is no requirement for them to provide evidence for their allegations. There is no punishment if they make false claims, so there is no reason not to make frequent, spurious claims. If they tell the ISPs to jump, the ISPs don't even have to ask "how high?"; this bill has told them exactly how high, and to do so without question.

The second problem is the impact of this mandate on Internet service providers.  An indication of the volume of these notices has already been presented, and it's no small number, reaching thousands of notices per week.  For the large ISPs, this is likely an inconvenience, but manageable given their resources.  For small ISPs, on the other hand, even being forced to deal with several hundred a week could be a burden in an already difficult uphill battle against the powerful oligopoly (we Canadians all know who they are).  This ineffective system will only serve to place a damper on competition in the Canadian ISP market.

All right, enough of this darkness and despair... back to happier events in the next post.

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