A Detailed Look at Bill C-32 – Canada’s Copyright Reform Bill (Part 3)

We have already made a lot of ground in reading through and attempting to understand the legislation currently being analyzed by many other Canadians right now. It’s already been quite a mountain climb of text to get to this point and we aren’t quite to the summit (half way), but we are getting there with part 3 of our detailed examination of Bill C-32.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes


While it’s easier to just read someone else’s opinion on the legislation and just take their comments at face value, it’s not so easy to actually take parts of the legislation and dissect it piece by piece to fully understand the legislation and form an opinion based on that analysis. That’s what we are trying to do. It is probably the most difficult way to examine the legislation, but it’s also the most ideal way to examine it since every detail can be picked up.

We’ve already gotten about one and a half pages through the legislation (Part 1, part 2) of the legislation so far. It doesn’t sound like much, but by the time you get to the end of section 22 of the legislation, you’ve got quite a lot of ground covered and have plenty of topics to discuss (i.e. the BitTorrent provision and the YouTube provision as well as how digital locks seem to trump digital rights that would otherwise be granted in the legislation) We aren’t even half way through, so we’re not entirely sure exactly what we’ll come up with for the remainder of the legislation, but we’ll eventually find what else is in this bill.

We should note that this is not a review by someone professionally trained in the field of Canadian copyright law. This is merely a review by an average Canadian concerned about copyright law. None of this should constitute a legal opinion or legal advice at all. This is merely an article that shows parts of the bill in the hopes of uncovering what is really being said in the legislation.

We continue with part 3 which appears to launch straight in to educational related issues. Even that has some controversy already in it.

Section 27 – 30 Day’s Before Destruction

Ask a number of instructors how controversial it is to demand students to destroy their work within 30 days after the course has ended and you’ll more than likely get a spirited response (or maybe just an annoyed grunt). It seems that the provision has not gone away as we can plainly see here:

(5) It is not an infringement of copyright for a student who has received a lesson by means of communication by telecommunication under paragraph (3)(a) to reproduce the lesson in order to be able to listen to or view it at a more convenient time. However, the student shall destroy the reproduction within 30 days after the day on which the students who are enrolled in the course to which the lesson relates have received their final course evaluations.

(6) The educational institution and any person acting under its authority, except a student, shall

(a) destroy any fixation of the lesson within 30 days after the day on which the students who are enrolled in the course to which the lesson relates have received their final course evaluations;

(b) take measures that can reasonably be expected to limit the communication by telecommunication of the lesson to the persons referred to in paragraph (3)(a);

(c) take, in relation to the communication by telecommunication of the lesson in digital form, measures that can reasonably be expected to prevent the students from fixing, reproducing or communicating the lesson other than as they may do under this section; and

(d) take, in relation to a communication by telecommunication in digital form, any meas- ure prescribed by regulation.

I’m not sure how someone could scream, “DRM everything!” any louder without actually mentioning digital locks, Digital Rights Management (DRM) or actually talk about any technical measures. The only other way is the instructor beg their students to delete their homework after classes are finished.

Really, if you have a bunch of homework at the end of the semester, you’re either going to throw it all out or, if you’re like me, square it away in some corner of a room with the hopes of figuring out what to do with it later… which is… whenever because, in a lot of the cases, most text related material winds up getting printed off anyway.

What is suppose to happen when an instructor winds up running afoul of this anyway? Is CSIS going to bust down the dorm room door of some unsuspecting student on day 31, riffle through any stack of paper that is found, pull out the offending course packet and lock up half a school faculty because the course work had a picture of Shrek on one of the pages? What is an instructor suppose to do though to keep up with teaching? Are they suppose to completely re-write every lesson every semester? Isn’t all this a bit unnecessary – especially when it appears to practically force instructors to deal with a whole bunch of technology some of them might not even understand all that well? I’m of the opinion that this part of the legislation is excessive.

Section 27 Continued – Institutes Policing Internet Users?

This is a rather odd use of the “break no digital locks” provision scattered throughout the legislation:

30.04 (1) Subject to subsections (2) to (5), it is not an infringement of copyright for an educational institution, or a person acting under the authority of one, to do any of the following acts for educational or training purposes in respect of a work or other subject-matter that is available through the Internet:

(a) reproduce it;

(b) communicate it to the public by telecommunication, if that public primarily consists of students of the educational institution or other persons acting under its authority;

(c) perform it in public, if that public primarily consists of students of the educational institution or other persons acting under its authority; or

(d) do any other act that is necessary for the purpose of the acts referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c).

Sounds par for the course until you get to this part:

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply if the work or other subject-matter or the Internet site where it is posted is protected by a technological protection measure that restricts access to the work or other subject-matter or to the Internet site.

While it’s strange to have to say that, check out what followed shortly after that:

(5) Subsection (1) does not apply if the educational institution or person acting under its authority knows or should have known that the work or other subject-matter was made available through the Internet without the consent of the copyright owner.

This is getting dangerously close to asking institutes to spy on their students and looking for any forms of copyright infringement. It walks the line, but it almost looks vague enough to demand campuses to spy on their students. I’m looking specifically at the language, “should have known” because what would constitute “should have known”? Is “should have known” meaning watching for “-(insert scene name).rar” at the end of a file name or is “should have known” meaning “should have put spyware on everyone’s network connection to watch for copyright infringement”? This is extremely risky language in my opinion.

Section 31 – Interoperability of Programs

There’s an interesting provision at the very bottom of the second page of the legislation:

30.61 It is not an infringement of copyright in a computer program for a person who owns a copy of the computer program that is authorized by the owner of the copyright, or has a licence to use a copy of the computer program, to reproduce the copy for the sole purpose of obtaining information that would allow the person to make the program and any other computer program interoperable.

So, judging by this particular provision alone, it sounds like if a program like a drafting program is on one computer and someone wanted to design a program that would make the screen of that program appear on two different computers on a network, then they would be able to reverse engineer or do whatever it takes to make that happen. They could make two different computers use the same program at the same time so one person could make one edit on one side of the world, while at the same time, allow someone on another part of the world to make a different edit live.

Barring any provision that says, “unless there’s a digital lock on it” on another part of the legislation, it sounds like there is room for tinkering with programs within the law. Interesting to say the least.


When I was first realizing that this section would deal with educational related issues, I questioned whether or not I should go through it or skip the whole section entirely. Well, I didn’t and found a few interesting things in the legislation. While a lot of parts were quite skipable, some parts were surprisingly relevant to us. Some parts of the legislation in this part of our review seemed a bit excessive, but it ended on an interesting note.

We’ve reached the end of page 2 of the legislation and are, subsequently, half way through if you count the total number of pages (4). There’s already a bunch of different things one could discuss so far in a number of different fields. Still, as things roll along, there’ll no doubt be more and more opinions on the legislation surfacing (as we’ve already witnessed). As we tackle the back half of the legislation, we’ll have a clearer understanding of the legislation and be able to respond in many different ways accordingly. It may be the hardest way to formulate an opinion on the legislation, but it’s also the best way to get the clearest picture since there isn’t a need for secondary opinion.

Previously: A Detailed Look at Bill C-32 Canada’s Copyright Reform Bill (Part 1)
A Detailed Look at Bill C-32 Canada’s Copyright Reform Bill (Part 2)

See also: Bill C-32 – Canada’s latest copyright reform bill

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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