The Canadian DMCA has just been tabled by the House of Commons, and from what I can tell (gleaned from Michael Geist’s excellent blog post) it’s a complete and total ruinous mess for the future of electronic media in Canada. Let’s, just for a second, get past the spectre of evil pirates stealing content from hard-working, impoverished studios and record companies. This bill makes it illegal for anyone to transfer music they bought off a CD and onto their own iPod. It also makes it illegal to unlock an iPhone or other locked digital devices, to the tune of a $20,000 fine. So the fact that I’ve been carting around said iPhone for the last six months is apparently more important than the fact that our representatives in Parliament consort with gangster molls or that the Alberta tar sands are an ecological disaster area. No, people downloading the latest Coldplay album is what our law enforcement services should concern themselves with.
The real irony here is that the studios are the authors of their own destruction. If these laws are actually enforceable, all that will happen is that people won’t bother to watch copyrighted material anymore. The means of production are cheaper than ever, and more and more people are watching amateur video, citizen journalism and other user generated content. The drive for self-preservation will actually accelerate the decline and fall of big media, by its own hand.
And the potential damage from this bill doesn’t just affect individuals. Companies in the business of moving and storing content, like Domain7, have already expressed concerns (check their news section for their take on the bill).
What can you do to voice your concerns about this bill? Email your member of Parliament (I just did, for the very first time), join online groups like the Fair Copyright for Canada group on Facebook, and join the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, and other groups advocating for digital rights.