McGill University hosted an interesting conference today on music and copyright reform. The conference consisted of two panels plus an afternoon of open dialogue and featured an interesting collection of speakers including Bruce Lehman, the architect of the WIPO Internet Treaties and the DMCA, Ann Chaitovitz of the USPTO, Terry Fisher of Harvard Law School, NDP Heritage critic Charlie Angus, famed music producer Sandy Pearlman, and myself. A video of the event has been posted in Windows format.
My participation focused on making the case against anti-circumvention legislation in Canada (it starts at about 54:30). I emphasized the dramatic difference between the Internet of 1997 and today, the harmful effects of the DMCA, the growing movement away from DRM, and the fact that the Canadian market has supported a range of online music services with faster digital music sales growth than either the U.S. or Europe but without anti-circumvention legislation.
The most interesting – and surprising – presentation came from Bruce Lehman, who now heads the International Intellectual Property Institute. Lehman explained the U.S. perspective in the early 1990s that led to the DMCA (ie. greater control though TPMs), yet when reflecting on the success of the DMCA acknowledged that "our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well" and "our attempts at copyright control have not been successful" (presentation starts around 11:00).
Moreover, Lehman says that we are entering the "post-copyright" era for music, suggesting that a new form of patronage will emerge with support coming from industries that require music (webcasters, satellite radio) and government funding. While he says that teens have lost respect for copyright, he lays much of the blame at the feet of the recording industry for their failure to adapt to the online marketplace in the mid-1990s.
In a later afternoon discussion, Lehman went further, urging Canada to think outside the box on future copyright reform. While emphasizing the need to adhere to international copyright law (ie. Berne), he suggested that Canada was well placed to experiment with new approaches. He was not impressed with Bill C-60, seemingly because he does not believe that it went far enough in reshaping digital copyright issues. Given ongoing pressure from the U.S., I'm skeptical about Canada's ability to chart a new course on copyright, yet if the architect of the DMCA is willing to admit that change is needed, then surely our elected officials should take notice.
Update: BoingBoing notes that there is now a more accessible Google Video version of the video.