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Access Copyright Warns On Copyright Consultation

On the day that Howard Knopf blogged about how Access Copyright is offering licences for public domain materials, BoingBoing points out that the copyright collective sent out a dire warning to its members.  Copyright Debate Takes Aim at Your Livelihood claims that the online debate is "dominated by individuals who do not agree you should get fair compensation for digital and other reproductions of your works."

23 Comments

  1. Glad to see hypocracy is still well practiced.

  2. Bob Morris says:

    Why is it hypocritical to object to someone deciding that you have to give some of your work for free?

  3. I e-mailed Access Copyright to ask them why they were offering to sell a licence to make copies of “The Man from Glengarry”, published in 1901, whose author Ralph Connor (Charles Gordon) died in 1937. It’s been in the public domain in Canada since 1988 and even in the US it’s in the public domain.

    I still haven’t heard back from them.

  4. RE: Bob Morris
    I guess your right. They’re not being hypocritical. Only unethical.

  5. Dwight Williams says:

    The hypocrisy?
    It may be in decreeing motives unto your critics that they don’t actually have and hold in order to justify making villains of them despite the truth.

  6. Actually... says:

    Actually they are quite accurate.
    Have you read many of the consultation posts? Most are for full personal use of anything. Many want any free dissemination of media to be legal. This means the second something you create exits the commercial sphere you have no rights or control over it.

    From the free software perspective this terrible. When you distribute something that is copylefted you are obligated to follow the license and pass the copyleft along. But is personal distribution and personal use are absolute there is no way to stop a user from simply stealing your software and closing it up, causing down-stream users to be deprived of the same freedoms you and the that developer enjoyed.

    I am very worried that the young pirates of Canada will drown out the reasonable responses.

    Distribution is a big issue, free personal distribution is not necessarily what Canada needs.

  7. It’s not hypocrisy so much as a straw man argument. I haven’t heard anyone argue that creators shouldn’t receive fair compensation. Of course, according to Access Copyright, “fair compensation” might mean “every penny a compliant legal system will allow us to squeeze out of the public” and not “compensation commensurate with the skill and investment made in creating the work.”

    I do hope that they are right, though, about the debate being dominated by people who are against the Access Copyright position. If reasonable compromise is impossible, the next best option is to make sure we’re on the winning side and get to dictate terms.

  8. Bob Morris says:

    But it is still perfectly reasonable for Access Copyright to mobilize its members against changes that might affect their liveihood.

  9. David Collier-Brown says:

    Is no-one interested in the illegality of this?
    I find it odd that no-one is concerned that
    Access Copyright seems to be accepting money
    for something they don’t, and indeed can’t, own.

    Back in my youth this was something we were
    warned to watch out for, and encouraged
    to report to our officers and the police.

    –dave

  10. I agree both things are perfectly reasonable. They should be exposed for “stealing” (hehe I made a funny) work from the public domain, and there is nothing wrong with them trying to alert their members to the copyright debate.

  11. Bob Morris says:

    Dave – regard it as an honesty box. They do send the money to the owners, which, let’s face it, is more than would happen if it didn’t get paid to them. And it’s not illegal.

  12. Re: Bob Morris
    “But it is still perfectly reasonable for Access Copyright to mobilize its members against changes that might affect their liveihood.”

    That’s fine, and I agree with that, but they shouldn’t be mislead going into this consultation process. The vast majority of discussion I’ve seen thus far are around the lines of “How creators are compensated”, not “If creators should be compensated.”

    This basically plays directly into the hands of those charging in stating that the copyright collectives are misleading a lot of creators (which they are in this case). And maybe these copyright collectives such as access copyright are not actively involved in ensuring the right direction taken to ensure it’s members are paid in the digital economy. That my friend, will now become quite clear to creators as they get into the discussion, read the responses. I’m glad to have the opportunity to read and respond to creators on this. They need to be on the same page everyone else is in the discussion, on how to effectively ensure we have a balanced copyright law that is effective.

  13. Vincent Clement says:

    Funny how “fair compensation” seems to mean “a government-mandated monopoly that is able to squeeze above-market rents”.

  14. Bob Morris says:

    And yet with most services and products, you either pay the asking price, maybe negotiate, or move on. Why with IP is there this expectation that someone forces creators to give up a portion of their output without payment? Let me see…sorry Prof. Geist, but fair dealing means we chop 10% off your salary.

  15. Bob –
    There are no copyright owners of works in the public domain to try to send money to. If it’s not illegal to sell licenses to content you don’t own the rights for, it definately should be.

  16. Bob Morris says:

    We can debate this endlessly, but I doubt that’s what they were actually doing. More likely it was either a mistake or the publisher had specified the terms, or there is a supply of an electronic version.

  17. “And yet with most services and products, you either pay the asking price, maybe negotiate, or move on. Why with IP is there this expectation that someone forces creators to give up a portion of their output without payment?”

    That discussion should be brought to bare where it counts, which is in the copyright consultation discussion forum, and with your personal submissions. Not here..

  18. Public domain doesnt mean free
    The idea that an underlying right to a book, has fallen into the public domain, does not make it unethical and much less illegal, to sell that same underlying right to someone of sound mind and body, wishing to purchase the work…you are paying for delivery, at that place and time, and that seller has delivered it to you, presumably packaged in such a way as to be compelling, or you would not be interested. This is business, and should be applauded, not frounded upon…Disney and all major Labels richly ‘borrow’ from public domain stories to make what become copyrighted works, but no on is arguing they have not created a new work, wish is a brand, a film, a DVD, new characters, which become part of the our new ever-expanding culture.

    The idea that Public domain materials are available as a sort of natural resource to draw from, I think is great, and if you want to start an e-book business just based on those properties, still requires that you find willing buyers, which means you still need to make the meal, make it appealing and serve it up…that has value or no one would buy it…

  19. It’s pirate time! Arrrgh! Blame copyrasts
    “I am very worried that the young pirates of Canada will drown out the reasonable responses.”

    The pendulum is slowing down and will go back eventually. And it may cross the balance point at full speed.

    Yes, open source software are at the cross-fire between copyrasts and pirates. Yes, this is unfortunate. There are solutions to this mentioned in the Ars Technica article, e.g. commercial code has to be submitted to the escrow so that when its copyright expires, the source is opened for everyone to build upon.

    But the copyrasts should be blamed for all this and open source knows it.

  20. Re: Bob Morris
    A special interest group encouraging individual artists to pollute and monopolize public debate, and you see nothing wrong here, Bob?! Artists do get paid – nobody is taking away their right to get paid for their work. Instead, people are simply arguing that we as citizens and consumers have certain rights that cannot be eroded to favour the selected few – and that is what is at stake here in this consultation.

    I think that in this electronic age, we need a new law that forces special interest organizations, like CRIA for example, to identify themselves and their agents when posting online and inciting change to public opinion.

  21. Yes but
    Of course it’s not unethical to sell public domain work and no one claimed it was. Chapters does it all the time and everyone is happy.
    Claiming to sell licenses to public domain work is completely fraudulent in my eyes though.

  22. @ Vincent Clement
    “Funny how “fair compensation” seems to mean “a government-mandated monopoly that is able to squeeze above-market rents”.”

    Very much agree. Simply put, copyright and it’s protection is a privilege that we as a society grant to inventors and creators to honour their labour. However, when this protection goes too far and starts jeopardizing our freedoms, that’s when we have to step back and revoke some of these so-called “rights”. I hope that this consultation will result in improvement to consumer rights and not further erode from them.

  23. @DanS
    I have to agree with crade here. Selling PD works, in particular in hard copy, recompenses the publisher for the time, material and distribution costs. Anything beyond that is profit, as the author (rightsholder) doesn’t get a dime.

    However, AC charging a license fee for works that are PD is either opportunistic (taking money from folks that don’t know any better), lazy (they don’t need to keep track of what is in the PD) or potentially fraudulent (after all, they can claim that licensing means that you can’t be sued… don’t forget that because laws in Canada can’t be made retroactive even if they do increase the term to 75 years it is effective that day… if you made the copy before they can’t sue you, although they may try).