Friday, June 13, 2008

Candian Common DRM Sense

According to where you live you will experience different rules on Digital Rights Management and copyright. Is this any different to the physical world and if not then why would we expect it to be?

Today we read that Canadians will be allowed under new legislation to copy legally acquired music to their iPods and computers but it will be illegal for them to break any digital locks that content owners have applied. The bill also shows common sense in exempting Internet service providers from liability for copyright violations by their subscribers, requiring them only to pass on notices of violations rather than their neighbours in the US requiring them to take down offending material.

Canadians will be allowed to ‘time shift’ and record television and radio programs for playing back at a later time, but would be prohibited from retaining these indefinitely in a personal library. This sounds unenforceable and a little contradictory and what is deemed as indefinitely.

The bill would reduce Canadians' individual liability for making illegal copies of music or movies for private use to C$500 from a maximum of C$20,000 but penalties up to C$20,000 per infringement would apply if digital locks were hacked, or posting music using the Internet or peer-to-peer technology, or for posting a copyright-protected work, such as a picture or video, onto a website such as Facebook or YouTube. It will also be illegal to provide, sell or import the tools to break digital locks.

However we view the enforceability of parts of the bill, like most things Canadian it offers a fair measure of common sense. The question of how and how long digiotal locks will prevail is interesting and whether watermarks that merely monitor but do not inhibit are regarded as locks are some of the interesting points.

A number of publishers have expressed a view to us that they believe that DRM has a limited life and the media such as ebooks will become DRM free. Our own view is that although this seems plausible in some media formats such as music it is hard to envisage in others such as film and games. The question is then where do ebooks line up?

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