ESA Canada Endorses Controversial Copyright Bill

Those of you that follow Canadian politics are probably aware that the federal Conservatives recently tabled a copyright reform Bill that if passed, will have a significant impact on Canadian copyright law - and Canadian gamers.

Bill C-61 outlines what rights consumers will have to copy intellectual property such as books, newspapers, photographs, music and video games. The new bill would expressly allow buyers of intellectual property to reproduce one copy of each item per device owned, such as a computer or a game console.

So how will this affect video gaming in Canada?

On the positive side Bill C-61 will impose harsh monetary penalties for people caught copying video games. Consumers caught copying back-up copies of games for personal use could face up to a $500 fine, but uploading a game to a peer-to-peer network could result in lawsuits of $20,000 per file.

Many industry groups, including The Entertainment Software Association of Canada, have endorsed this bill. Speaking to CBC, Joan Ramsay, President of the group's board of directors had this to say:

“It’s simple: Every time someone acquires an illegal copy of a video game, money, in turn, is not going to those Canadians who work so hard to develop and publish games. That’s money that cannot be reinvested in creativity, job growth and industry development. Copyright reform is essential to strengthen our competitiveness as an industry.”
Hmmmm, sounds about right. I was starting to wonder if ESA Canada was up to anything lately, considering the content on their website hasn't been updated in a year or longer. Good to hear they at least doing something.

Sadly, while Bill C-61 could help balance the rights of copyright holders and consumers, is could also mean that some every day activities like transferring a CD to your PS3 or Xbox 360 could be considered copyright infringment. Micheal Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and one of the strongest critics of Bill C-61 said this on his personal blog:

"check the fine print since the rules are subject to a host of strict limitations and, more importantly, undermined by the digital lock provisions. The effect of the digital lock provisions is to render these rights virtually meaningless in the digital environment because anything that is locked down (ie. copy-controlled CD, no-copy mandate on a digital television broadcast) cannot be copied."
With the much anticipated PS3 2.40 firmware release tomorrow allowing for custom in-game soundtracks, copying music to your video game consoles is about to get a whole lot stickier. Don't worry, you'll still be able to enjoy your custom soundtracks if the CD has no lock down, and if you own the original CD, and if you keep the CD indefinitely. Of course, that's only if this bill passes in the House of Commons.

Source: - Copyright law could result in police state: critics