Edward A. Norminton

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Edward A. Norminton



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Submission from Edward A. Norminton received on September 15, 2001 via e-mail

Subject: Comments - Government of Canada Copyright Reform


Edward A. Norminton

I am writing on the issue of Digital Copyright. I am a computer scientist, an investor and most of all a concerned Canadian. The issue of preventing the circumvention of technologies used to protect copyright material is one that, when addressed, must not infringe on our right to use what we have purchased or obtained in a fair manner nor infringe on the notion of the presumption of innocence.

I mention that I am a computer scientist as I understand the issues relating to technologies. I mention that I am an investor because I hope to profit from corporations that do well. I mention that I am a concerned Canadian because I do not want profit as an investor at the expense of my freedoms.

The industry term "technologies to protect copyright material" is misleading and should be termed "technologies that restrict the usage of copyright material". While certainly the circumvention of such technologies can be done for illegal practices there are many legal reasons for doing so:

- copyright exists for a finite time so it should not be illegal to circumvent technologies which protect any material no longer under copyright protection (this would include the right to circumvent technologies where even some of the information is not under current copyright)

- if one has purchased copyright material that works on a single computer operating system and then decides to change to a non-supported operating system or the supported operating system has become obsolete one should have the right to circumvent technologies to allow a change of operating system. Examples of this can be seen by users who had purchased DVDs for use on computers with Microsoft Windows and then wished to migrate to the Linux operating system which at one time did not support DVD. Their ability to remove technology protections to allow them freedom of choice of operating system for using legally purchased copyright material was thwarted by United States law and protected by Australian law. One can also imagine that the software used to control copyright material may be obsolete in 20 years time, and the purchasers of that material must be allowed to migrate the material even if the copyright holder does not support this migration.

- technologies which prevent freedom of movement must be allowed to be legally circumvented. I have a collection of DVDs purchased in Europe while I was stationed there. The motion picture industry has technological measures to prevent such DVDs being played on North American machines, yet I, or anyone who travels frequently, should not be forced to purchase multiple copies of copyright material for this reason (such freedoms should not be sacrificed for a motion picture industry business case based on release dates, nor could such a business case explain regional encoding for films over 30 years old)

- technologies can restrict the use of copyright material by persons with disabilities. The recent case in the United States involving Adobe E-books is a case in point where the available software prevented blind readers from reading legally purchased books, but the circumvention of encryption would allow them to move the copyright material to software they could use.

- consumers have an expected right to make one backup copy of software in case of the loss of the original (anyone who uses a computer knows that hard disks crash). Circumvention of technologies which prevent this must be allowed.

- technologies used to protect copyright material should not impose on our freedom of privacy and any that do should be declared illegal, such as the new Microsoft Office XP package which forces users to identify themselves to use the product.

There are many other examples of legal reasons why someone may which to circumvent technologies which infringe on their rights as legal purchasers of copyright material.

A recent rewording by the Council of Europe on their Convention on Cybercrime made it illegal to use cracking software that was for illegal purposes but noted that there were many legal reasons to use such software (such as testing your own computers) and those legal reasons must be protected. The same must be done with respect of the circumvention of technologies that restrict the usage of copyright material.

Furthermore, as a Canadian I have been brought up to believe that the notion of innocence until proven guilty was fundamental and is often quoted as one of the differences between a free society and one that is not. Yet most Canadians don't realize that we have already begun to surrender that right. Someone who does not own a car would never dream of paying a parking fine because they live in an area where others habitually park illegally, yet a "tax" that has been levied on blank CD media to pay the entertainment industry, assumes that I am guilty of copying copyright material. I have purchased hundreds of blank CDs and yet have never used them to copy copyright materials of others for myself or of mine for others. I have stored over 7000 images of my photo collection on them, I have stored hours of video I have made personally and I have stored backups of my computer system. Yet I am found guilty of infringement of copyright and must pay a fine for every CD I make. We must not allow the same to happen wi th the circumvention of technology that restrict usage rights. Copyright holders have a right to protect their material but not at the expense of the rights of the consumer. When we start to surrender such rights where do we stop? It is okay to lose some of our freedoms because there are those who act illegally or technology allows such acts more easily? How much loss of freedom is acceptable? Where do we stop?

The pursuit of financial gain should not impose upon our freedoms, for if we sacrifice our freedoms what have we left?

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