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"That's an arcane question": Prentice on the Copyright Act ~ Thursday, June 19, 2008

I listened to the podcast on CBC's Search Engine a few minutes ago.  As the interview progressed, I found myself shaking with the strangest combination of hilarity and outrage.  I was laughing at the absurdity of Prentice's responses while at the same time feeling a rising anger, as he again and again responded to commonplace scenarios with claims that the questions were very "technical" and "arcane."

Just for some context, the "arcane" and "technical" instances he referred to were scenarios like:  "My grandfather had a large collection of vinyl standards.  He then bought them on cd.  Some of those cds are locked but it's easy enough to break the copy protection so I can load them onto an ipod for him.  Given that he's already purchased them twice, would we be liable for breaking the copy protection so he can listen to his music?  Does he have to buy the same music a third time, just because the technology has changed yet again?"


"If I go to another country and get my phone unlocked, so I can use it there, is that considered illegal?"

For the first question, I think Prentice blustered that it was very "technical," also indicating that there aren't too many copy protections on cds anymore.  

Right, Prentice, but what about the dozen or more cds I bought a couple of years ago that are copy protected?  Given that I suspect that most of the cd-owning public has at least one or two cds whose copy protection they'd have to break if they want to listen to it on their portable players, I don't see how the question being "technical" makes it any less pertinent or worthy of a straightforward answer (which, incidentally, he never gave--because it would be damning, or because he didn't know the legislation he's putting forward well enough?  He did, after all, make several references to the fact that it's a very long and technical document.  Either way, it doesn't look good for Minister Prentice).

The second question, Prentice felt, was "arcane."  Because after all, so few of us travel abroad and want to be able to call ahead to hostels and pensiones using a locally-purchased SIM card rather than paying the astronomically high rates charged by our carriers here.  It just NEVER happens.  

The bottom line of that, btw, seemed to be that if we unlocked it here in Canada, we were potentially liable for the $20,000 in Statutory Damages (because that's totally different than a "fine," as he was careful to spend several minutes pointing out--though regardless of what you call it, our bank accounts will still be short $20K).  If we wait till we go abroad, then it's just fine and dandy.  

Prentice blustered and dithered further (and this on obvious questions that all of us are facing--and are the very reason we're fretting about the proposed legislation in the first place!), before citing a meeting and hanging up on Jesse Brown, the interviewer, who never did get a chance to ask the key question:  "How exactly is any of this going to be enforced?  Will ISPs have the right to monitor and report traffic to the government or other regulatory / watchdog groups?" etc.

Aw shucks, Prentice.  Just when it was gettin' interesting...

::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 5:57 PM::::


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