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Dear Mr. Harper:

If I buy something, I own it.  It is mine.  That is the nature of property law.  If I want to pry it apart with pliers, that’s my right.  If I want to hook it up to a Tesla coil to see it glow, that is my right.  If I want to take a piece of media that I bought and have the receipt for, and crack some silly encryption scheme that prevents me from enjoying it on the device of my choice, that is my right.

That is not piracy.  That is making personal use of something I bought and paid for in a way that suits me.

By legalizing “Format Shifting” but making the practice of cracking a digital lock punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, you effectively countermand the legality format shifting.  What most consumers don’t realize is that virtually all modern media contains some form of encryption or digital lock to prevent copying.  This goes back to the 80’s Macrovision standard on commercial VHS and BetaMax tapes (which is way before most people realize digital locks started).

If I buy a hard copy CD/DVD of software, and want to back up an image of the CD/DVD in case the medium is damaged and I need to re-install it, there will be DRM I have to circumvent in order to perform that backup.

Also, the definition of “encryption” and “digital lock” is woefully gray.  In simple terms, encryption is merely an algorithm that must be decoded in order to view the contents of a “message” – be that message a coded letter or the movie on a Blue Ray disc.  Mathematically, and thereby legally, compression formats are no different than what most people think when they think of “encryption”.  To decompress and view the media, you must use an algorithm in order to “decode” the media.

All modern digital audio/video uses some form of compression.  To “format shift” such media from one device to another, it is often (actually, almost always) necessary to change the compression format.  Technically, this is breaking an encryption scheme.

So, if you want to “back up” a commercial CD (which typically uses the AAC compression format) to your digital media player (which typically prefers MP3 format), you would need to “crack” the AAC compression in order to “recode” the media to MP3.

Even better, if you want to download video that you yourself have taken using an HD cam-corder, and edit it with anything other than the editing software provided by the cam-corder manufacturer, you will inevitably need to recode the media to a different format, thereby “breaking” the encryption of a commercial device.

This legislation also goes against the intent of previous legislation to encourage consumer choice in the telecom market.  The CRTC, backed by legislation, has made telephone numbers portable for both land lines and cel phones, so that you can change carriers without losing your phone number.  However, with this legislation, what you will lose is the right to keep your equipment. Virtually all cel phones on the market today come with a “Carrier Lock” – a tiny piece of digital code which will only allow that cel phone to work with a single carrier.  The wording of the legislation is such that if you were to circumvent this lock, so you can use a device you paid for on the carrier of your choice, you would be in direct violation of the law, and subject to a fine of up to $5,000.

You are putting all the rights in the hands of the distributors, and taking them all away from the consumer.  You put some pleasant window dressing on your bill, but there are people out here, amongst the unwashed masses you so obviously care little about, that can see through the window dressing to the traps you have placed behind it.

And we will talk.  We will take the time to patiently explain the issues to our friends and families.  We will post messages on the Internet.

We will spread the word and work hard to see this bill crushed.  And some of us will work hard to see your government collapse – the sooner the better, although some of us are patient enough to wait for the next election.  Because some of us have long memories.

One Response to “Dear Mr. Harper”

    Thanks for the information. It is very helpful!

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