Canada’s Copyright LawsCanada’s copyright law is one of our hardest laws to enforce.
The reason the police have so much trouble enforcing this law, is due
to technology. This law is very easy to break, and once broken, it is
very hard to track down violators. So although some form of a
copyright law is needed, the one we have has, too many holes to be
effective. There are three main ways in which the copyright 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 the copying of audio tapes for oneself and friends. Thanks to
the invention of dual cassette stereos, this has become very easy.
You simply take an original or even another copy of a tape, as well as
a blank tape. Stick them both in to the stereo 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 as easily. 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 the wiser.
The problem with copying video and audio tapes is that for
every copy you make the recording artist, the actors, producers and
everyone else who collect royalties from the tapes lose money. If the
companies start to lose money, they raise prices. Thus a vicious
circle begins. As prices go up, fewer people buy original copies. If
less people buy the original cassettes prices will once again rise.
Another major form of piracy is plagiarism. The stealing of
someone elses ideas or work. The biggest category of people who fall
into here are students. Very often a student when doing a research
paper will “accidently” forget to footnote his work. By “forgetting”
to give the author credit, the student has claimed the work as his
own. Another reason students may copy someone else’s work is to sound
more sophisticated hoping that if they use someone elses words it will
sound better than their own. Generally, this provides an easy way for
a teacher or the police to catch them.
Teachers also plagiarize rather frequently. Very often a
teacher will photocopy several pages from a book, in order to save the
students the expense of having to buy the book for themselves. While
this is a noble act by the teacher, 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
several forms which this can take. The most common form is very
similar to audio/video cassettes. It is when someone copies a game or
program from his/her computer to someone elses. As long as the two
people have the same type of computer, (they both have apples or
IBM’s) this is a very simple process, so long as the programmer didn’t
put a bug into the program (a precaution they take against people
copying their work).
Another form of Computer Piracy is a “cracker”. A cracker is
someone who has 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’s able to distribute the software at his
own discretion. This is in direct conflict with the copyright law,
because the program was not meant to be copied thus the bug. It
therefore becomes illegal to remove the bug.
Like audio/video cassettes copying, computer games causes
people to lose money. In this case, instead of it being the singer,
or actors, it is the programmer, and the software companies who lose.
This leads to the same vicious circle. More copies make higher
The copyright law is hard to enforce likewise so are the
penalties. If you are found in violation of breaking the copyright
laws, you probably will only have to pay a fine. However, the fines
can be quite subeztial and depending where 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 extreme
cases, where a contract is enacted upon the purchase of the original
copy like with Word Perfect, a computer word processor. Upon buying
an original set off disks you must sign a contract promising not to
distribute the program. In these cases, you could face imprisonment
because now not only are you dealing with breach of the copyright law,
but with a breach of contract as well. So the moral of the story is
enjoy your large collection of audio/video tapes. Get those good
marks 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 the police pay to this problem, it is very
unlikely that you will ever get caught.