I last posted an update on the copyright consultation discussion forum on July 24, 2009. Discussion has slowed since then, but the total number of comments is now well over 1,000. Frances Munn provides a summary.
Copyright and You
How do Canada’s copyright laws affect you? How should existing laws be modernized?
Tuesday August 4, 2009 (639 responses)
Over the last week, posters continued to voice their support for great consumer protection. In particular, many advocated for greater personal use protections to make copies and backups, ending the use of DRM, and expanding fair use. Further, one thread debated whether digital copying was theft while others debated whether it was fair to only prosecute those that shared files for commercial gain.
- A poster argued that any new laws should comply with human rights legislation and the Constitution so as not to create a counterproductive law.
- Several writers argued that authors should be paid fairly and that creators needed a copyright law with “sharper teeth.”
- Several posters expressed frustration with the high cost of music/movies, pointing out that expensive media makes file sharing an attractive option.
- Several people argued that the Internet has given creators the means to connect directly with consumers and that the distributors and ‘middle-men’ are the ones pushing for stronger copyright laws.
- One poster proposed a fee on Internet use to compensate creators in the same way that levies were added to blank CDs.
- One person pointed out that the disabled are particularly susceptible to DRM and should be allowed circumvention exemptions.
- Another poster proposed re-writing the Copyright Act to eliminate references to specific technologies and ensure that it is up to the creator to track and investigate infringements.
- One person advocated modernizing the Copyright Act by implementing WIPO, arguing that creators needed copyright protections to earn a living. In response, one poster replied that they did not support Bill C-61 because its DRM protections would “chill” innovation. Another poster pointed out that the DMCA did not kill innovation in the United States.
- Another poster argued that consumers had no excuses for obtaining illegal copies of works. The poster said that depriving artists of their livelihood and their rights over how their creations are used “does not contribute to expanding the national culture.” In response, several people pointed out that it was too harsh to create laws that allowed corporations to bankrupt families and teenagers and that the old business model was outdated and should be changed.
- One poster argued that the term “copy” should be removed and that the focus should shift to the right to distribute and the right to profit.
- One person supported private copying rights, but argued that anyone who distributed or lent copies to another person should void their private copying exemption.
- A poster suggested shortening copyright protection to 20 years and using a “digital footprint” to tie content to the purchaser in order to trace pirated material back to the person who distributed it while also allowing the consumer to make copies for personal use.
Test of Time
Based on Canadian values and interests, how should copyright changes be made in order to withstand the test of time?
Tuesday August 04, 2009 (110 responses)
Over the last week, posters argued for a technologically neutral law and opposed another Bill C-61 approach.
- A recent poster worried about protecting him or herself from theft given the absence of laws dealing with the new economy.
- One poster argued that the old copyright model was designed during the Industrial Age to protect creators from being exploited by big distributors. The poster argued that we have now entered the Information Age where distributors are no longer needed, and that the government should not enact laws to protect big industries from individuals. The poster said that freely sharing ideas should not be illegal, and that copyright should be directed at those who aim to make a profit off another person’s work.
- Another poster argued that Bill C-61 was unfairly labelled as “too American,” pointing out that it was also similar to the European, Japanese and Australian approach to copyright. The poster promoted expanding private copying while also ensuring that creators were fairly remunerated.
Innovation and Creativity
What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster innovation and creativity in Canada?
Tuesday August 04, 2009 (239 responses)
Along with some criticisms of Bill C-61 and preserving an outdated business model, new posts included:
- The most recent poster argued that “intellectual property” should be renamed “intellectual monopoly” since copyright does not deal with real items of property. The poster went on to question whether having a monopoly of intellectual products benefits society as a whole.
- Another poster argued that having a monopoly on a cancer drug is more harmful to society than a monopoly on a hit song.
- One person argued that publishers and distributers make far more money than creators and that there should be a fairer system of reimbursing creators for their work.
- A writer argued that authors needed more copyright protections in order to make a livelihood.
- Another poster proposed a system where users pay for file sharing, arguing that they would be willing to pay for the right to download.
- One poster argued that copyright should operate more like patent laws with copyrighted works entering into the public domain after a period of time.
- Another poster advocated for educational exemptions for teachers and students.
Competition and Investment
What sorts of copyright changes do you believe would best foster competition and investment in Canada?
Tuesday August 04, 2009 (32 responses)
There was little change in this discussion over the last week. One poster argued for an end to Crown Copyright, pointing out that Canadians pay for government documents through tax dollars and should have the right to them without government permission.
What kinds of changes would best position Canada as a leader in the global, digital economy?
Tuesday August 04, 2009 (230 responses)
- One person proposed a ‘notice and notice’ strategy over ‘notice and takedown.’
- One poster argued that enforcing laws will be a problem and instead proposed “monetizing the networks” in a payment scheme similar to cable TV.
- One poster began a debate when they came out strongly against P2P networks like The Pirate Bay, arguing that downloading for ‘personal use’ is the same as stealing from the artist.
- Another thread debated whether or not P2P music downloads translate to lost revenue or whether P2P serves as a way to sample music before buying it.
- One poster argued that the new business model in the music industry has shifted towards giving away music for free over the Internet and making money off merchandise and concerts.