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Canada's Copyright Laws


Canada'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 
prices etc..

 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 substantial 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.


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