Canada has a new copyright law that limits consumers' liability for copyright infringement but exposes them to thousands of dollars in penalties for circumventing anti-copying technology, the Globe and Mail reports. The existing copyright law, passed in 1997, exposes consumers to a maximum of $20,000 in statutory penalties. The new law cuts that to $500 for all infringements contained in a lawsuit, the newspaper reports. But, says Prof. Michael Geist in the Star the limitation doesn't apply to uploads to YouTube or peer-to-peer networks. Anyone caught messing with DRM or other anti-copying technology could be slapped with $20,000 fines. Says Geist:
The law creates a blanket prohibition on picking the digital locks (often referred to as circumventing technological protection measures) that frequently accompany consumer products such as CDs, DVDs and electronic books. In other words, Canadians who seek to circumvent those products – even if the Copyright Act permits their intended use – will now violate the law. While this sounds technical, circumvention is not uncommon. Under the Prentice bill, transferring music from a copy-protected CD to an iPod could violate the law. So, too, could efforts to play a region-coded DVD from a non-Canadian region or attempts by students to copy-and-paste content from some electronic books.Some artists have spoken out against the law.
"The question is, who gains from this bill?" said Brendan Canning, a member of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition and a co-founder of the band Broken Social Scene. "It's not musicians. Musicians don't need lawsuits. ... What we do need is a government that is willing to sit down with all the stakeholders and craft a balanced copyright policy for Canada that will not repeat the mistakes made in the United States."