Digital rights software to protect CanCon copyright

A Montreal-based Web developer is creating open source digital rights management software to aid the protection of Canadian cultural content on the Web.

Six months into what Reeves Communication Inc expects will be

a year-long development project, the company Monday said the software will use metadata in order to monitor the distribution of each work over the internet and will generate reports of its usage online. The reports, the company says, will help rights management agencies to collect royalties in a national and international context in real time. It is also creating a distribution portal for Canadian artists that will digitize their works.

Reeves Communication president, François Reeves, says the company has been in contact with a number of theatre and dance companies through its Web development work. It became obvious, he says, that these companies had a large amount of audio and video material they wanted to put online but didn’t know how to get around the concerns about copyright.

“”There are a lot of solutions for the billing aspect (of arts material online) but there was no open source solution for the actual digital management of rights. There are two big solutions, one by Real Networks and one by Microsoft. But they’re so expensive that within the Canadian context I don’t think anyone can afford to use them,”” he Reeves says.

Reeves was granted R&D credits from the federal government to come up with Canadian software capable of managing the lawful dissemination of Canadian arts content over the Web, Reeves says. He adds that Montreal’s Societe de Soutien Aux Projects en Imagerie Numerique Pour le Cinema provided some initial funding for the development of the software.

Barry Sookman, chair of Internet and e-commerce law at McCarthy Tétrault, says there’s been a large amount of international legal activity around the area of digital rights management. In fact, he says, the Wold Intellectual Property Organization mandates its member companies to implement technological property rights protection measures and to specifically make it difficult for companies to reverse engineer and bypass these kinds of software.

“”As soon as people start using the (software), other companies will try to reverse engineer it and find ways to circumvent it. The software is greatly enhanced by NT circumvention legislation,”” Sookman says. “”It essentially makes it illegal to do a number of things that relate to the reverse engineering or the distribution of products that are designed to basically let people circumvent these technological protection measures.””

Canada is lagging behind countries like the US, UK and Australia and does not have such legislation in place.

The kind of encryption software that Reeves

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