Copyright Modernization Act
Copyright protection is an issue of considerable interest. The law recognizes public interest in extending creators the right to benefit from their creations. The most plausible way of protecting creators of works is through the securing of their property. Despite the obvious need to accord such protection, a delicate balancing act must be struck. In particular, users’ and creators’ rights ought to be assessed and provided for accordingly. Whereas, limiting the usage of copyright content too much might constrain the ability of the society to meet its demands and future expectations, leaving it unprotected would deny the creators an opportunity to benefit from their work. It is observed that the digital locks law conflict the law on reproduction for private use regarding the handling of copyright content.
The new provisions indicate that institutions or persons acting under them are free to reproduce work or engage in necessary acts for purposes of displaying. In addition, individuals under an institution have the freedom to reproduce work and communicate it to students subject to given conditions. Besides, telecommunication or recording and transmission of such content are permitted although subject to certain regulations. Overall, flexibility exists on reliance of educational exceptions as pertains to reproduction of copyrighted content. Moreover, content reproduction and digital locks are also affected by the amendment.
Based on the Copyright Modernization Act, digital locks pertain to technological protection measures that often fall into two large categories: access control and copying control. Regarding access control, reference is made to effective technology, component or device that regulates work access. Concerning copying control, the talking point is effective technology, component or device that restrains an individual from exercising exclusive rights that belong to the owner of a copyright or remuneration rights. In other words, the latter part of the provision regulates the copying of copyright content.
Bill C-11 disallows any form of circumvention of access control that is attached to a work. In addition, even if the content is transformed into another form such as a sound recording, it is illegal. This is applicable if the work is subject to digital locks. Digital lock restrictions as stipulated in the Act stand a chance of trumping certain exemptions advanced under the Copyright Act. For instance, educational exceptions and fair dealing are likely to be undermined.
Under the Notice and Notice provisions of Bill C-11, content owners have the right to communicate with those suspected to have infringed on their privileges. As pertains to digital works, content owners have permission to monitor online access to their content. In this regard, they can identify those who download their materials or files. However, the owners can only identify network providers as opposed to IP owners. As a result, the owner might contact the provider with the objective of finding out who the perpetrators are.
Under the fair dealing provision, the Copyright Act focuses on balancing users’ needs and creators’ rights. The extensions under the fair dealing might constitute infringement in certain circumstances. However, the setting of conditions as pertains to the application of the fair dealing provision makes it difficult to be abused. For instance, the expectation of fairness must be satisfied.
Based on the above discussion, it is evident that the law on digital locks and reproduction of works conflict on the aspect of conditionality. Whereas under the reproduction part, users have leeway, under digital locks their freedom is highly curtailed. The digital lock amendments remain controversial and contradictor to the reproduction law. Although reproduction law allows sharing of legally held content, digital locks law seems to take that provision away. Despite the attempts to bring fairness through fair dealing, digital locks emerge as outliers which would impose severe restrictions on content usage. Currently as proposed, the laws would only benefit corporate interests rather than those of users.
Legal Issues Arising when the Rules Overlap
An inconsistency in the laws is likely to emerge if the digital locks provision is not amended. Circumvention of digital locks is a violation only if it occurs where a link exists to genuine copyright infringement. For example, such should have taken place when a party breaks digital locks and reproduces many copies with the objective of selling them. However, as currently constituted, a buyer of a DVD who wants to play it in a foreign location, a student using an electronic book, a journalist seeking to use a video clip to make a report or a teacher who is doing a multimedia presentation are going to be on the ‘wrong side of the law’. Although the law on reproduction for private purpose allows users some freedom regarding how to use copyright content, the digital locks law takes away such important provision.
In addition, under digital locks provisions, educators and students are required to destroy online course content that might have relied on copyrighted material within a period of thirty days on completion of the course. From the above, it is apparent that the implication of the new law is far-reaching concerning restricting learning. The emerging question is if the parties involved ill have to begin the course afresh every time. It is apparent that the law is discriminatory in reference to protecting producers while taking no credible steps to secure the interests of the users.
The allowance for reproduction for ordinary/ private activities might be technically illegal under the digital locks law. Thus, in such a scenario, the courts will be mandated to determine if the latter or the former law takes precedence in resolving issues. In other words, the new provisions contribute to creating a legal tussle regarding the use of copyright content.
Digital locks largely focus on “any effective technology, device or component that, in the ordinary course of its operation”, either “controls access to a work” or “restricts the doing” (TPMs) of given functions related to reproduction. Often, TPMs are on electronic books, DVDs software and digital media. On online stores, TPMs restrict visitors from downloading files. The circumvention of the TPMs is disallowed. The controversial aspect emerges based on the provision that an individual that downloads files by breaking TPMs is liable for prosecution and owes the copyright owner all remedies.
It is concluded that the two laws are geared towards discouraging theft or piracy of copyright works. Although the la on reproduction for private use allows users adequate freedom on usage of content, the digital locks provision seems to erase such benefits. Thus, it is held that the laws are incompatible and discriminatory to users.