Another Bad D.M.C.A. - Canadian Bill C-61

Last week Bill C-61 was introduced in the Canadian parliament. Supposedly it protects digital media from copyright infringement. The danger in that law will not serve only to protect the copyright of music and video files, but will possibly hamper the usage of legally purchased material.

Here is a flagrant example. The Bill C-61 grants the copyright holders the right to demand damages from anyone who bypassed any sort of encryption, with a few exceptions regarding interoperability, encryption research and security.

  • 3v3n v3ry l4m3 3ncrypt1on.

If this bill is passed into law, and that you managed to read the above sentence, the author can claim that you breached an encryption algorithm, and sue you for $500 per infringement.

While the Dmitry Sklyarov incident should not be repeated, we can expect a lot of confusing and debatable infringements, like

  • Transferring your legally purchased music from a CD to your IPod
  • Playing a region 2/3/4/5/6 DVD that a visitor/tourist/student purchased legally and brought with him for his personal use
  • Using copy/paste from electronic books for quoting within research papers

So, if this bill is passed into law, here are several scenarios which can happen

  • Within the borders of Canada any company having a product with a ridiculously stupid or vulnerable encryption algorithm will be able to sue a the user who bypassed the vulnerability for his own use.
  • Even if such vulnerability is identified by a security expert, it may not be treated or corrected by the manufacturer, since they will deem to be protected by the letter of the law.
  • Even with the exceptions regarding interoperability, encryption research and security, Ethical security experts may be weary of analyzing and publishing vulnerabilities, since if they are challenged, they will need to prove their intent and that they didn't use the vulnerability for ANY infringement.

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Talkback and comments are most welcome

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