Why Bill C-11's Digital Lock Rules May Hurt Copyright Enforcement

Michael Geist, Weblog, Jun 13, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The 'digital lock' provision is one of the more controversial provisions of the proposed Canadian copyright law, bill C-11. Basically it makes it a crime to circumvent digital locks, even if the intended use is non-infringing. Critics say the digital lock would prevent legal uses such as satire and quotation. But as Michael Geist writes, the digital lock provision might actually make infringing more difficult to detect, as infringers would simply hide their activities behind a digital lock. It doesn't have to be strong; it just has to exist, and if it exists, it would be illegal to break it to discover infringing uses. Of course, this could be fixed legislatively: in New Zealand "they have the concept of an authorized circumventor which essentially defines the situation where circumvention is allowed." But it's a slipperly slope, right?

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