Point of Order by Stéphane Groulx – Canadian’s right to consume digital content for personal use in jeopardy under bill C-11

CFN –  Some people have noticed that CFN really wants to play a role in helping young people become more active in politics and find their voice.

What I like to do is find politically active young people and share our platform with them.   And that’s where Stéphane  Groulx enters.  We are proud to create this column for him to share his views as he works his way through University studying Political Science.

Here is his first entry for his new Column; Point of Order.

Not that long ago, the fear that the United States government was going to  police the internet and infringe upon online freedom through proposed bills SOPA and PIPA led to a massive online protest spearheaded by websites such as Wikipedia, Google and Reddit. The protest ultimately led to both pieces of legislation being postponed indefinitely.  The successful online protest to these bills served the purpose to both inform individuals of the propositions of SOPA/PIPA as well as what they could do in opposition to the bills.Canadians got swept up into the debate when it became apparent that SOPA/PIPA had the potential to have a profound effect on the websites which host user-generated content we hold dear to us – such as Facebook, Youtube, Wikipedia, and Twitter. Many Canadians came out in opposition to SOPA/PIPA and that was great, however one must not forget that these are American pieces of legislation. Canada cannot intrude on the domestic policy of another sovereign state.

Since Canada can not meddle in the affairs of government south of the border, what can Canadians do to fight to keep their digital and internet freedoms? They can come out en masse against similar legislation proposed by the Conservative government. I’m speaking of course of bill C-11,  which would bring sweeping reforms to Canada’s current copyright laws.

Bill C-11 was introduced September 29th 2011 by the Conservative government in the House of Commons and is essentially a carbon copy of bill C-32 which was tabled in June of 2010 but was killed in March of 2011 when the Conservative government lost the motion of no-confidence in the house which led to the last federal election being called; a fate similar to that of bill C-32’s predecessor, bill C-61 which also died on the floor after the call of the federal election in 2008.

An issue of concern related to bill C-11 is the proposal to prohibit the breaking of digital locks, which is software placed on digital content which attempt to limit the ability to copy or save the content somewhere else after its been purchased. Take for example you have a DVD of your favourite movie and you want to save it onto your computer for personal use, under current copyright law in Canada nothing stops you from breaking the digital lock (if there is one placed on the DVD that is) and going forward with the saving of the content on your computer, however if bill C-11 becomes law, such an action would be deemed illegal.

Even if you legally purchased the original piece of digital content, it would be illegal to save it to your computer or make a back-up copy of it if the content were to have come with a digital lock. These locks can be found on DVDs, CDs, eBooks, Internet music (like songs found on iTunes) from a great many industries including music, film, television, video games, and etc.

The Conservative government has stated that such restrictions on the breaking of digital locks are in line with world standards however as Professor of Law Michael Geist rightly points out “the Canadian digital lock rules are more restrictive than those required by international law, more restrictive than those found in many other countries” most of the countries which have implemented similar laws relating to digital locks have differentiated between the legality of breaking the locks for personal use, and the prohibition of the breaking of the locks for the purpose of sharing these files non-personal use; such as online piracy, the selling of bootleg copies, and etc. Bill C-11 does not in its current form make a distinction between breaking the lock for personal use or for the intention to counterfeit.

It should not be against the law to break a digital lock on something you have legally purchased as long as it is for your own personal use and is not done with the intention to counterfeit. To make such an action illegal is to punish the consumer.

Unfortunately given the current make-up of Parliament, the Conservative government is going to get its way in passing this legislation unless we stand up against bill C-11 with the opposition parties in Ottawa. Canadians need to stand up and not let the government take away their right to use the goods we have legally purchased to our own discretion! Whether that be through writing your MP, speaking up against the bill when it reaches the committee stage in either the House of Commons or the Senate, or taking part in peaceful protest. If enough Canadians get involved, we can send a clear message to Prime Minister and the Conservative Government, because this could very well be just the tip of the iceberg.

Born and raised in Cornwall Ontario, Stéphane is a social activist and political science student at the University of Ottawa who is avidly passionate about politics, policy-making, as well as getting youth involved in the democratic process.
Stéphane also loves to observe and explore his surroundings, take part in rational discussion, learn new things, write, and meet new people.

If you wish to contact or sponsor Mr. Groulx email us at info@cornwallfreenews.com or call our hotline at 613 361 1755

JL Computers


  1. This was a great article! The only comment I have is that people sometimes misunderstand what they purchase when they buy a DVD or CD. They purchase a copy of artistic material with a license to view or listen to it for personal use. If, for example, a restaurant owner liked a particular CD in their collection, and began to play that as background music at their restaurant, it would be a copyright infringement, because it would be used for more than personal use. Same thing if they had a DVD running for their customers to view as they dined.

    Because the music or movie is being used in a commercial establishment, a separate licensing arrangement exists, where royalties and other payments are collected.

    My point here is just to clarify that we never ‘own’ the music or video we purchase, we only own the permission to enjoy the material personally, but not to share it publicly.

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