ARCHIVED—Peter St. Onge
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COPYRIGHT REFORM PROCESS
SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED REGARDING THE CONSULTATION PAPERS
Documents received have been posted in the official language in which they were submitted. All are posted as received by the departments, however all address information has been removed.
Submission from Peter St. Onge received on September 16, 2001 via e-mail
To Industry Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Intellectual Property Policy Directorate and other concerned agencies:
I am writing you today to express my grave concern regarding the extreme intellectual property provisions of the Consultation Paper on Digital Copyright Issues (CPCDI).
Based on the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), these measures give far too much power to publishers, at the expense of indivdiuals' rights - the legal right to fair use of copyright material. As a practicing researcher in Canada, I have strong reservations about how this legislation would effectively limit legal fair use of many copyright materials critical to the daily work of researchers and other users. This will certainly be disadvantageous to Canadian scientific research in the long term.
Realistically, any approach to securing content requires the use of restrictive technology which limits the ability to use that content. As an advocate for the effective use of technology by print- and vision-challenged computer users, I have noted very clearly how the sort of technology that limits how content is used, by definition, also acts as a systemic and prejudicial barrier to those who cannot use the same tools as their sighted counterparts. One need only look to the content protection facilities in the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) as an example: Blind and braille-terminal users cannot exercise their legal rights to fair use of copyright materials by using common tools to obtain the text of a copy-protected PDF .
The American DMCA legislation itself is currently under legal challenge in the American legal system. Its very existence has had a far-reaching and substantial influence on scientists' and computer security researchers' freedom of expression around the world for fear of being prosecuted in the US and for very good reason: This legislation has resulted in the arrest of a Russian programmer. The provisions of the CPDCI are similarly as broad as those of the DMCA, and it is difficult to see how Canadian interests - be they cultural, literary, scientific or otherwise - would be served in any way by these modifications to current copyright legislation.
These provisions would amend the Canadian Copyright Act to ban, with few or no exceptions, software and other tools that allow copy prevention technologies to be bypassed. This would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantee of freedom of speech, and similar guarantees in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, since such tools are necessary to exercise lawful uses, including fair use (including the previously stated example of print-disabled and non-sighted individuals), reverse engineering, computer security research and many others.
Without question, I urge you to excise these controversial and questionable from consideration in the CPDCI document. The DMCA is already an international debacle on many levels, and its flaws can only disadvantage Canadians.
Peter St. Onge
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