Canada’s Copyright Law Canada’s copyright law is one of our hardest laws to enforce. The reasonthe police have so much trouble enforcing this law, is due to technology. Thislaw is very easy to break, and once broken, it is very hard to track downviolators. So although some form of a copyright law is needed, the one we havehas, too many holes to be effective. There are three main ways in which thecopyright law is broken in everyday life. They is audio/video tape copying,plagiarism, and software piracy. The first, and most commonly violated aspect of the copyright law, is thecopying of audio tapes for oneself and friends. Thanks to the invention of dualcassette stereos, this has become very easy. You simply take an original or evenanother copy of a tape, as well as a blank tape. Stick them both in to thestereo and bingo you have a new tape. You also just broke the law. Along with copying audio tapes, now we can copy video tapes almost aseasily. If you hook two VCR’s together, they can copy from one to the other.You could rent a movie form the video store, copy and return it, with no one thewiser. The problem with copying video and audio tapes is that for every copy youmake the recording artist, the actors, producers and everyone else who collectroyalties from the tapes lose money. If the companies start to lose money, theyraise prices. Thus a vicious circle begins. As prices go up, fewer people buyoriginal copies. If less people buy the original cassettes prices will onceagain rise. Another major form of piracy is plagiarism. The stealing of someoneelses ideas or work. The biggest category of people who fall into here arestudents. Very often a student when doing a research paper will “accidently”forget to footnote his work. By “forgetting” to give the author credit, thestudent has claimed the work as his own. Another reason students may copysomeone else’s work is to sound more sophisticated hoping that if they usesomeone elses words it will sound better than their own. Generally, thisprovides an easy way for a teacher or the police to catch them. Teachers also plagiarize rather frequently. Very often a teacher willphotocopy several pages from a book, in order to save the students the expenseof having to buy the book for themselves. While this is a noble act by theteacher, in most cases, this is illegal. Unless the author of the book, gave
consent for his/her work to be freely distributed, teachers can’t copy it anymore than students or anyone else can. The third category of piracy is Software Pirating. There are severalforms which this can take. The most common form is very similar to audio/videocassettes. It is when someone copies a game or program from his/her computer tosomeone elses. As long as the two people have the same type of computer, (theyboth have apples or IBM’s) this is a very simple process, so long as theprogrammer didn’t put a bug into the program (a precaution they take againstpeople copying their work). Another form of Computer Piracy is a “cracker”. A cracker is someone whohas an in-depth knowledge of computers and programming. He can then remove the”bug” that prevents programs from being copied. After he removes the bug he’sable to distribute the software at his own discretion. This is in directconflict with the copyright law, because the program was not meant to be copiedthus the bug. It therefore becomes illegal to remove the bug. Like audio/video cassettes copying, computer games causes people to losemoney. In this case, instead of it being the singer, or actors, it is theprogrammer, and the software companies who lose. This leads to the same viciouscircle. More copies make higher prices etc.. The copyright law is hard to enforce likewise so are the penalties. Ifyou are found in violation of breaking the copyright laws, you probably will onlyhave to pay a fine. However, the fines can be quite substantial and dependingwhere you are in the distribution chain (how many copies were made before yours)the fine varies, with whoever copied the original paying the most. In extremecases, where a contract is enacted upon the purchase of the original copy likewith Word Perfect, a computer word processor. Upon buying an original set offdisks you must sign a contract promising not to distribute the program. In thesecases, you could face imprisonment because now not only are you dealing withbreach of the copyright law, but with a breach of contract as well. So the moralof the story is enjoy your large collection of audio/video tapes. Get those goodmarks on essays you didn’t even write. Enjoy those really fun computer games,because under Canada’s current copyright law and the amount of attention thepolice pay to this problem, it is very unlikely that you will ever get caught.