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Re: [fsfc-discuss] Petition to protect Information Technology property r

From: Russell McOrmond
Subject: Re: [fsfc-discuss] Petition to protect Information Technology property rights (Was: Re: "FSF Canada" )
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 17:21:00 -0500

(Copying the http://list.digital-copyright.ca/mailman/admin/discuss list, given that forum is where the petitions were authored)

  The existing petitions are what they are.  We can't change them and call them the same petitions.  In order to ensure signatures would be accepted we would need to go through the process of getting the new text validated through the Private Members Business Office, just as we did with the existing petitions.  I've seen signed petitions tossed out where this wasn't done first.

  If there isn't an interest to endorse the existing petitions,  then as a group we might contemplate authoring a new one and get it through the process as quickly as we could.  Creating a new petition doesn't stop us from getting signatures to existing petitions in the interim (sign all of them - signatures are not a scarce resource).

  Would someone like to take the lead for that?  I will obviously offer all the help I can given I went through the process for a few petitions already, but think it might help to get some new people involved.

  The petition for Users Rights may not be as effective as it once was.  It was generic, and dealt with issues that the government now claims they have solved.   Other than the last part where I added the right to make our own software choices, which they won't understand, their speaking points address everything else.   They claim the bill was the result of consultation (the TPM parts weren't), that they expand and not contract Fair Dealings (true, if you ignore TPMs), didn't expand the term of copyright (they did in a few obscure ways), and so-on.   If you discount the TPM aspect of the bill, it almost appears as if they listened to us.

  For the Petition for IT property rights, they thus far appear to have no idea why we are bringing that issue up at all.  They don't see the connection between TPMs and software running on our computers.  Getting them past that hurtle is the main reason for the petition.  We can't solve everything at once, especially not in petition format.  It's not a bill or policy document, but a petition.

On Feb 17, 2012 1:57 PM, "Richard Stallman" <address@hidden> wrote:
>    Petition to protect Information Technology property rights
>    ----------------------------------------------------------
>    THAT technical protection measures (TPMs), as implemented by some
>    copyright holders, can violate end users privacy rights, prevent
>    consumers from enjoying content on devices and software of their
>    independent choice, and circumvent or compromise the security of their
>    computers, including rendering them vulnerable to attack, as was the
>    case in the well publicized Sony-BMG RootKit fiasco.
> "Protection" is a propaganda term of the enemy, so we should
> not use the term "technical protection measures" as if we
> agreed with it.

  It is a label within government documents, and ultimately what ended up in the bill.  If the Canadian Government had called them "Fred", then I feel it would have best served our purposes to also call them "Fred" so they would at least recognize what we were talking about.

  We could have included a clause where we clarified that the word "protection" was inappropriate (and a little of why), taking into consideration that for size reasons/etc it might have meant we wold have to give up mentioning something else.  It does come down to a matter of priorities with these things for the petition format : both for the citizens reading to decide if they want to sign, and the politicians we are trying to convince.

> Regarding the conclusion:
>    THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon Parliament to prohibit the
>    application of a technical protection measure to a device without the
>    informed consent of the owner of the device,
> That seems very weak.  It would not require any change in practices,
> it would only require telling users that they are screwed.  So what?

  Valid concern, but we were trying to move things in at least the right direction from the current situation with politicians unaware that owners are valid stakeholders.  This is the same government that objects to the mere registration of long-guns, so the hope was that once they understood the basic concern that they would do the aggressive talk themselves.

  I still believe, as I did when we authored this petition after the Conservatives formed government, that if the conservative base understood this issue the way the technical community did that they would be making all the arguments for us -- our job would be done.

  I worried that if we came on too strong that they would dismiss us, and this is an issue we can't allow them to ignore.

>                                                 and to prohibit the
>    conditioning of the supply of content to the purchase or use of a device
>    which has a technical measure applied to it.
> I can't figure out what that would mean in practice.  Consider DVDs.
> Would this prohibit selling DVDs with CSS?  Or would it mean that if
> they sell DVDs with CSS, they must sell DVDs without CSS for the same
> price?  Or would it mean that they can sell DVDs with CSS, they just
> can't officially demand you use CSS to play it?
> It doesn't seem useful to make such an abstract demand when we
> can't tell if it would solve any problem.

  That sentence is linked to the one about the Canadian Competition Act and tied selling.   They essentially could not offer only CSS or any other mechanism that ties the ability to access lawfully purchased content with specific brands of devices.

  It is not the technological mechanism that is the issue with the Canadian Competition Act, so this won't translate directly into a technical answer to your specific technological question.

  Price, whether they could offer multiple formats, and other such things come under review of the competition bureau, and is already dealt with.  The idea wasn't to re-invent in sentence an entire body of law, but to reference an existing body of law.   The same was true of the reference to the existing Canadian federal privacy act PIPEDA.  The point was to alert politicians to the fact that they are seeking to pass laws that contradict with many areas of existing Canadian law.

>                                                 We further call upon
>    Parliament to recognise the right of citizens to personally control
>    their own communication devices, and to choose software based on their
>    own personal criteria.
> It is not clear to me that this implies any conclusion about the
> issue.  It seems to hint at something without saying it.  What is it
> meant to mean?

  I believe you are reading this as a technical person, with your very intimate knowledge of how computers work, what software is, and so-on.   This petition was authored to try to educate non-technical politicians who are seeking to pass laws where they have no idea of what the impact will be on  what you or I do.

  Hope this clarifies the existing petition, with the Petition to protect IT property rights being the existing one that could have the most impact.  I still hope there may be endorsements, existing flaws and all.

  If it is seen as ineffective and should be replaced, I hope we can quickly move on getting that process going.   Even if we get new final text authored in the next two weeks it is unlikely that we would get petition signatures onto the floor of the house of commons until after the bill is through the committee and back in the house.  We don't know how much time there will be between when the bill is sent back to the house at report stage and when it will be passed at third reading (and then on to the Senate).

On that point: anyone have an existing relationship with any of the senators, and can help set up meetings?  I've been writing letters for quite some time, but no interest in meeting yet.   Ideal is Conservative senators given they will have the greatest influence, but any senators would be a great improvement.

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