The conservative government has once again made an attempt atintroducing new legislation to update Canada’s copyright act.In some ways it isn’t nearly as crappy as previous versions, but there’s one major problem that needs fixing before it hits the House of Commons.
Included in the proposal is a section forbidding people from breaking any digital locks that companies decide to put on anything they create. Not only do I hate this from a purely consumer standpoint (if I wanted to rent things rather than buy them that’s what I’d be doing), but it also poses a major problem when it comes to equal access to information for people with disabilities.
As a blind person, I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been presented with a document that in its original form is either problematic or completely unusable to me for one reason or another. Sometimes my screenreader doesn’t play well with the program I would have to use to read it, so I need to convert it to a format that works better. Sometimes the document is put together in such a way that it looks terribly disorganized, but with a few modifications it’s totally fine. I could go on, and I could also point out that it’s not just blind people who need things changed. People with reading and learning disabilities routinely modify documents so that they are more easily accessible to them. But if this new bill becomes law as it currently stands, making those changes would make criminals out of us and out of those people who would help us if there is any kind of digital protection on the file in question.
I’m sorry, but being labelled a lawbreaker by my government when all I’m doing is acting in the interest of equal rights is not something I’m willing to accept. Entertainment companies be damned, my right to the same access that everybody else has trumps your right to prop up your failing business models with poorly thought out laws as far as I’m concerned. I hope that all Canadians will speak out against this. You don’t have to have a disability to be impacted by what the government is proposing. do you really want broadcasters to be able to delete things from your PVR just because they’ve been there for a completely arbitrary amount of time? Is it right that you should be unable to record something you would really like to save just because some asshat in a suit doesn’t think you should be able to? If this passes, both of those things could happen. and if this passes, people like me who are already behind the curve when it comes to information equality will be even further back,and all of the strides we’ve made to close the gap will be taken away from us.
Industry Minister Tony Clement and Heritage Minister James Moore have stated that there is still time for Canadians to voice their opinions on the bill, so for what it’s worth, there’s mine. I urge everyone reading this to read about the bill and make your feelings known however you can. This thing isn’t totally horrible, but the parts that are make it all pretty well worthless. Here’s hoping we can fix it before our government and big media set the rights of the disabled back a good 20 years.