CDN Gov't Thinks They Can Curb Piracy! *ROFL*

Tories move to crack down on download demons
Thu Jun 12, 5:51 PM
By Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The Harper government has served notice that the halcyon days of free Internet music downloading may be numbered.

The Conservatives introduced legislation Thursday that would carry a $500 penalty for Internet song-snatching and downloading of other copyrighted material.  But it's unclear how violators would get caught, suggesting illegal downloading might be like playing a kind of legal Russian roulette.

Industry Minister Jim Prentice sought middle ground between copyright holders who want strict protection for their intellectual property, and Internet users accustomed to downloading material for free.

"This bill balances the rights of creators on one hand and consumers on the other," he said.

However, critics dismissed the legislation as "symbolic," and opposition MPs wondered how Ottawa would enforce the legislation short of barging into people's homes.

The current copyright law - intended to catch commercial cheaters - carries a maximum penalty of $20,000 for each infringement.  Amendments to the Copyright Act proposed by Prentice would reduce that to a one-time, $500 penalty for all infringements.

The industry minister suggested the amendments are meant to safeguard parents against astronomical penalties if their children are caught illegally downloading reams of copyrighted material.

"At present time, for the kinds of things you're speaking about, teenagers and their families are exposed to statutory damages that would run from $500 to $20,000 per work that is infringed," Prentice said.

"It's clearly intended to protect consumers in respect of what might technically be an infringement, but relates to personal, private use."

The amendments would also make it illegal to copy a compact disc or DVD to a personal digital device such as an iPod - even if you've paid for it - if it involves breaking a so-called digital lock to make a copy.

People caught hacking digital locks or uploading copyrighted material to file-sharing websites would face penalties of up to $20,000.

Posting copyrighted material to the popular social-networking website Facebook, or the video-sharing website YouTube, qualify as infringements under the new legislation.

"I think what the government is doing is they're distinguishing between the person who is downloading and the person who is uploading," said Barry Sookman from the law firm McCarthy Tetrault.

"This gets after the person who is making the files available."

It's not clear how the government expects to enforce the legislation, which has been in limbo since the Conservatives first put it on the House of Commons order paper in December.

Mark Hayes, a partner at the law firm of Blake, Cassels and Graydon, called the penalties on downloaders "more a symbolic thing."

"In practical terms the likelihood it will ever be imposed is not all that great," he said.

Liberal MP Scott Brison called the legislation "half-baked" and chastised the Tories for not having an enforcement plan.

"The government has not thought this through.  The government does not know how it will enforce these provisions," he said.

Halifax HMV employee Todd Chapman, 29, said the legislation won't change people's downloading habits.

"It is kind of meaningless," he said.  "I don't think it's going to act as a deterrent at all ... it's impossible."

But Mike Murphy of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the bill will enshrine creators' rights in law.

"We didn't have any rights for creators in this kind of an era, and I think that's clearly been acknowledged here," he said.

Canada's current copyright law was drawn up long before personal computers and iPods were in every home.

The amendments would let consumers copy legally acquired music onto portable audio players and cell phones, which the current law does not allow.  Consumers could make one copy for each device they own, as long as any digital locks aren't hacked.

American industry groups (MPAA & RIAA) had lobbied Ottawa to follow the U.S. government's lead in restricting people from making backup copies of legally-purchased CDs and DVDs.

The U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act has drawn criticism for exposing people who have downloaded music illegally to huge lawsuits by the record labels.

Sookman said it isn't likely the Canadian music industry will start going after illegal downloaders.  The legal costs of doing so far outweigh the $500 copyright holders could recover in court.

The Canadian music industry lost a court battle in 2005 when it tried to force Internet service providers to provide the names of downloaders.

The Tory amendments include provisions to address the liability of Internet service providers and the role they should play in curbing copyright-infringing activities on their networks.

Internet service providers will remain exempt from copyright liability, but they will have to notify customers who are accused of copyright infringement.  The providers would also have to keep customer records, which they are currently not forced to do by law.

The bill would also allow consumers to record television and radio programs to watch or listen to later.  And it would allow Internet programs to be recorded as long as they are simultaneously aired on television or radio.

But forget about amassing a library of recordings.  The legislation puts unspecified limits on how long recordings would be allowed to be kept for later viewing.  Department officials weren't able to say how long recordings would be allowed to be kept.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists called the legislation "a good first step for artists."

"This is only a first step - because film and television performers need a full set of rights under copyright law, the same as every other artist," ACTRA national president Richard Hardacre said in a statement.

Consumers would be allowed to make one copy of any book, newspaper, magazine, photograph or video cassette for each device they own.  There are also new exceptions for some educational and research purposes.

Psst - If you're wondering, I don't pirate a single thing.  Have a good day! .. Oh damn, I forgot to include the copyright where I leached this article from!