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CRIA Launching Grassroots Campaign for Canadian DMCA

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Thursday April 09, 2009
As the Canadian government considers its next move on copyright reform, it would appear that the Canadian Recording Industry Association is readying a grassroots campaign to argue for a repeat of Bill C-61.  The following leaked email was widely distributed from an executive at one of the major record labels:

I'm sure that all of you are aware of the current challenges that we have within our industry around copyright infringement. What you may not know is that there is a lack of support within our government for laws that are currently in place NOT protecting copyright work. Virtually every other developed nation in the world has taken one key step to keep peer to peer downloading under control: they have modernized their copyright rules for the digital age. It is time Canada's Parliament implement similar, long overdue reforms, in keeping with our country's commitments under the 1996 WIPO Internet Treaties.

You can make a difference by understanding the current challenging situation, talking to your colleagues about it, and letting your MP know how you feel about this. Below and attached is a Frequently Asked Question form that can bring you up to speed on the issues and other info that you may not be aware of. Take a minute to review, and then please follow up by sending an email to your MP if you feel that music and these matters are important to you.  In addition to the email message, or as an alternative, please write a letter or call your MP and the Heritage and Industry Ministers. 

The letter then lists the addresses for Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore along with links to a series of supportive organizations and a non-functioning link to a Copyright FAQ that is currently hosted at Universal Music (but indicating that the source is CRIA).

While the industry may face some challenges in generating a major grassroots campaign demanding a Canadian DMCA, more important is their planned Copyright FAQ which unsurprisingly tells only one side of the story.  There are no questions about the robust copyright collective system in Canada, private copying, the Songwriters proposal, the CMCC, the effectiveness of notice-and-notice to address online infringement, etc.  Instead, the FAQ states [with commentary in brackets from me]:

Copyright Reform FAQ
 
Q: What is Copyright?
A: Copyright is the right held by the creator of a literary work, musical work, artistic work or software to decide how that work should be reproduced and made available to the public. It is the foundation upon which the copyright industries - and the jobs they support - is built.

[according to the Supreme Court of Canada, it is also a law that seeks to strike a balance between creators rights and users rights.  The effects of copyright extend well beyond just the "copyright industries."]
 
Q: Why is copyright important?
A: Copyright is important because it provides the creator of a work with the same basic rights as an owner of physical property, including the right to determine the selling price and the right to protection from theft. By protecting a creator’s rights, copyright also promotes innovation and progress in science and the arts.

[the balance is also important to ensure appropriate access, new creativity, and enough flexibility within the law to ensure new innovative business models]
 
Q: What is piracy?
A: Piracy is the unauthorized distribution or acquisition of a copyrighted work, such as commonly takes place through online peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and CD counterfeiting. Piracy is akin to shoplifting - both involve taking property without authorization.

[There is considerable literature highlighting the differences between copyright infringement and physical theft.  Further, Canadian law includes a private copying levy that raises doubts about whether there is any infringement taking place for personal, non-commercial downloading.]
 
Q: Who does piracy affect?
A: Piracy affects everyone including YOU - regardless of whether you work in a copyright-related industry. Piracy undercuts sales, profits and tax revenues. Investment in new creations is deterred, undermining innovation and artistic development. All too often, businesses are forced to close and jobs are lost.

[There has been little evidence in Canada about reduced investment due to the current copyright law.  Indeed, it is arguably the lack of flexibility within the Copyright Act that has deterred new investment in new businesses, who have been unable to rely on a robust fair dealing provision.  Moreover, with the industry abandoning DRM, the claim that anti-circumvention legislation is crucial to new investment is just not credible.]
 
Q:  Does copyright piracy put your job at risk?
A: Yes. Canadians who work in the copyright-related industries have seen numerous job losses - from the artists who create music to truck drivers who deliver CDs and DVDs to retailers. Since the advent of widespread P2P file sharing 10 years ago, retail sales of music have declined by more than half; this has forced ongoing job reductions and slashed funds available for Canadian artist development.
 
It is not only the music industry that is affected. For example, a Business Software Alliance study found that a reduction of software piracy in Canada by 10% over the next four years could generate more than 5,200 high-skilled jobs and inject $2.7 billion into the economy.

[Loss of jobs for truck drivers who deliver CDs and DVDs is about a move to digital distribution, not infringement.  Further, there is plenty of debate over the sources of declining CD sales, including an Industry Canada funded study that found a positive correlation between file sharing and music purchasing.]
 
Q:  Aside from jobs, how does piracy affect music in Canada?
A: With much less money available today to invest in and support new artists, Canada’s leading place in the music world is slipping. As John Kennedy, the Chairman and CEO of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) pointed out recently, “Canada is now punching below its weight” on the world music stage. As reported in Billboard, Kennedy “noted that according to Nielsen Soundscan, only two of the Top 20 selling albums in Canada - Nickelback and Quebec’s Lost Fingers - were created by domestic acts.”
 
In addition, Canada has seen no significant new digital services introduced over the past year, in contrast with the flurry of innovations seen in other countries. This undercuts the development of digital music here - badly needed at a time of declining CD sales. Without a modern, robust copyright regime, companies are unwilling to invest in innovative new digital services in this country.

[Digital music sales have grown faster in Canada than in the United States for each of the past three years.  Some services like the now-defunct SpiralFrog used Canada as the host for their pilot before launching in the U.S.  There is simply no evidence that the absence of anti-circumvention legislation is viewed as a major deterrent to launching new Canadian services.  With regard to investment in new artists, programs such as FACTOR play a key role in funding artists, not U.S. backed labels.]
 
Q: Does piracy affect Canada more than other countries?
A: Yes. A 2005 study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that Canada’s per capita rate of peer-to-peer downloading was the highest among OECD countries. This directly reflects Canada’s failure to modernize its copyright rules for the Internet age, unlike other developed nations. Many countries in Europe, Asia and elsewhere implemented this basic step several years ago.

[While the OECD study showed Canada as slightly higher per capita use than the U.S., it made no conclusions about infringing activity, particularly given the legitimate uses of P2P and the existence of the private copying levy in Canada.  Moreover, the copyright reform advocated by CRIA focuses on protecting digital locks, not addressing P2P activity.]
 
Q: What was Bill C-61?
A: Bill C-61 was copyright reform legislation introduced in Parliament last year. It set out to modernize Canada’s Copyright Act to accommodate today’s digital technologies, and to address the widespread piracy of copyrighted works. The bill, which died on the Order Paper when an election was called, would have brought Canada’s copyright rules closer in line with those of other developed nations. Its passage would have signaled to Canadians that Internet piracy is unacceptable under law.

[Bill C-61 also would have created enormous problems for consumers, educators, librarians, researchers, artists, and millions of Canadians who would suffer a loss of rights over their personal property and restrictions on their ability to create and interact with digital media.]
 
Q: Is copyright reform costly to implement?
A: No. In fact, copyright reform can be implemented at no cost to taxpayers - in sharp contrast with recent government measures to stimulate the economy.

[While there may be limited cost to government, the cost to consumers and innovative businesses facing new restrictions would have been very significant.]
 
Q: What about the concerns raised by bloggers?
A: Some bloggers and academics argue against copyright reforms, citing such concerns as lawsuits and privacy considerations. But these arguments are without merit. For example, on lawsuits, the major labels in Canada have stated clearly that there is no intention to sue fans. It is simply not an issue. On privacy, Canadian law already offers strong protections, and there is nothing in copyright reform that would affect that.

["Bloggers and academics" do not argue against copyright reforms, but rather against DMCA-style, unbalanced reforms.  There is support for a fair, balanced approach that does not eliminate fair dealing in the digital environment and that addresses ongoing consumer concerns with the current law.  Fears about lawsuits and privacy are only a small part of the concerns, which extend to education, consumer rights, research, free speech, and creativity.  Moreover, concerns over privacy are not limited to bloggers and academics, but also include privacy commissioners.]
 
Q: Do artists support copyright reforms?
A: Yes. ACTRA and AFM Canada, leading organizations that represent tens of thousands of Canadian artists, fully support copyright reform. Their support is based on the best interests of their members. To see what some artists have to say, click here.

[But many artists do not.  The Canadian Music Creators Coalition, which includes some of Canada's best known musicians, argue against these reforms.  Moreover, the Songwriters Association of Canada has argued for a different approach on P2P and acknowledged that reforms based on protecting DRM are bound to fail.]
 
Q: Why has the Canadian government been so slow to reform copyright rules?
A: Given the explosion of piracy in Canada, the lost jobs, the success of copyright reforms passed by many other countries years ago, and our government’s longstanding but unfulfilled international treaty commitments, the delays defy explanation or excuse. As IFPI’s John Kennedy recently said at Canadian Music Week (as reported by Billboard): “The lack of interest in intellectual property by the Canadian government is truly astonishing.”
 
What is clear is that the Canadian government needs to hear from voters like you that further delays are unacceptable. Your local MP needs to know that your patience is running out, and that legal reforms are needed now to stem job losses and provide new opportunities for Canada’s music industry.

[The long Canadian process reflects many things, some political (string of minority governments) and some substantive.  It is the substantive doubts about DMCA style reforms that are most relevant, since they reflect the view - shared by the creator of the DMCA - that the policies have been a failure.  What is unacceptable are not the delays, but rather caving to pressure to enact reforms that would cause harm to millions of Canadians while doing virtually nothing to support Canadian artists.]
 
Q:   What can I do to help?
A: Contact your Member of Parliament to let them know that you think copyright is important and to ask that they prioritize the passage of appropriate copyright reform legislation. It will take you no more than a minute or two to send an email to your MP, and just a few more minutes to write a letter. Ask family, friends and colleagues to do the same.

[We agree on this.  My 30 Things You Can Do remains relevant (albeit a bit outdated for contact information) - Canadians should contact their MPs and urge them to ensure that any new reforms strike the right balance.]
Comments (29)add comment

CHRONOSS said:

Save out net PRESS LIBERALS
http://voice.liberal.ca/pages/on_probation

go here and vote the hell out of the seocnd one about infrastructure
it outshot every other topic for like a week and suddenly in last day 722 votes went to another topic.

LETS SHOW THEM WHO THE PEOPLE REALLY ARE
you get 3 votes total per person

so all we need are 300 out of all this to make a differance
April 09, 2009

Irate Canuck said:

Is it still Grassroots...
When it's organized by corporate shills carrying water for foreign organizations?

I thought the term was "Astroturf".

Not only is this an ugly development, but I don't trust the Harper government further than I could throw a dead Muskox. He has repeatedly shown that corporate interests trump public interests.

This is a bad sign. Thank you, sir, for keeping we plebes informed.
April 09, 2009

Simon said:

Economics
It's ridiculous to suggest that copyright infringement ultimately damages the economy. Someone who downloads an album doesn't then burn $15, they spend it on something else they wouldn't otherwise be able to.
April 09, 2009

Devil's Advocate said:

Typical 1-sided corporate BS
The one key part of the copyright mechanism these "informative" messages from the MAFIAA always avoid is that it's a CONTRACT that's supposed to EXPIRE!

The expiration of the copyright is chiefly what puts most of the "balance" in the agreement. Works are supposed to be released to the Public Domain after a reasonable period of "monopoly" is enjoyed by the copyright holder.

Instead...
1) New copyrights being granted are for LONGER periods of time than originally mandated by previous copyright laws.

2) Everything under the sun now seems to be granted a copyright, including things that copyright was never originally intended to cover.

3) Copyright holders are being granted EXTENSIONS to their licenses... very exhorbitant extensions.

4) Works that made it to the Public Domain are even being taken back and placed under copyright.

If things keeps going this way, there will be no Public Domain!!

Copyright wasn't originally designed for electronic media. It was the PRINTING PRESS they had in mind. Publishers were given a monopoly to PRINT something for a short period of time, and when that time was over, the monopoly was over, leaving the work to the public to build on and innovate with.

The whole thing makes me sick.
Copyright really just needs to die.
It has no place in this era.
April 09, 2009

Chris Brand said:

You have to respect their guts
To argue that "we need the law changed so we can sue filesharers, but we have no intention of actually doing so". I don't think I could do that.

Oh, and this:
"it provides the creator of a work with the same basic rights as an owner of physical property"
is where a lot of the underlying problems come from. Copyright is very deliberately *not* a property right, mostly because monopolies on expression are something that we would prefer to avoid as much as possible.
April 09, 2009

MikeB said:

...
I would think that another reason for the delay of any copyright reform is the consultation process. Consultation by the public was last conducted in 2001, many moons ago by the technology calender. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry appear to not only be getting face time on a regular basis, but sound like they're right in the room during the crafting of the latest string of bills.

Process - Consult industry only, draft unfair and unbalanced bill, massive public outrage(not just bloggers and academics), government gets queasy over the groundswell of outspoken negativity towards bill, leave bill to collect dust until next election, repeat.
April 09, 2009

Anobe said:

...
I know...lets start our own grassroots campaign to prevent them from doing something idiotic again. Called it "Grassroots Campaign for Prevention of Destructive Copyright."
April 09, 2009

Jezebeau said:

...
If only there was some law mirroring defamation that could be brought to bear against the fallacy of presenting deliberately misleading opinion as truth...
April 09, 2009

Worker Bee said:

Don't let the facts bother you. Comment away!
"Simon": love your logic. So I'm going to steal my next car. It won't hurt the economy at large, since it'll leave me thousands of dollars that I'm going to be able to spend on other stuff! While I'm at it, I'm not going to pay my employees, either. That won't hurt the economy, either, since it'll leave me with tons more bucks to spend on other things. Thanks for showing me the way.

"Devil's Advocate": Hail to thee, O Beelzebub, and all, but unless Geist neglected to print part of CRIA's screed, there's nothing about term extention in there. Copyright term is life plus 50 years in this country, and has been since 1924. What's all this stuff about "new copyrights being granted for LONGER periods than in the past"?

Dude, not here. Or maybe you're some Yankee Imperialist Pigdog Running Lackey of The Doomed Capitalist Globalized One-Worlder Bilderberg Trilateral Conspiracy, eh? Think you can pull a fast one on Johnny Canuck and slip some UnKKKle $am lies into the mix behind our sturdy Canuck backs? Go away, bald eagle-fetishist! Take your starry stripes and hydrogen jukeboxes with you!
April 09, 2009

Geof said:

...
The CRIA letter positions itself very well. It frames the debate in terms of property and rights, casually ignoring the serious concerns of opponents. This is how effective propaganda works: it does not engage in detailed rational argument, but instead frames the debate in terms of what questions are to be answered or what problem solved. So long as the question is “How do we protect the property rights of artists” our arguments are pretty much irrelevant, and must always be on the ground chosen by our opponents.

As I guess folks here know, many of the assertions are questionable. Copyright, as legal scholar Peter Drahos writes, is more privilege than right. It is nothing like property rights over physical objects. BSA piracy statistics are seriously flawed. CRIA is an American proxy for corporations, not artists. And so on. But just as the CRIA sweeps our criticisms aside without serious consideration, an effective response cannot afford to bog down in this kind of detail. Some of these are worth rebutting, but it is more important - indeed essential - that we assert a clear alternative framework for understanding the issue.

For example. Censorship: as Appropriation Art argues, C-61 would have outlawed a whole class of art. Property Rights - not over ideas, but over the communication devices we own, which we would no longer be permitted to control. Book burning: libraries and schools would be required to destroy lessons; DRM would do the same to other works. Privacy: effective enforcement would require monitoring and controlling the everyday activities of Canadians in the privacy of their own homes. Business models: the real issue is encouraging art and artists, not property rights and control per se. And so on.
April 09, 2009

Hopalong said:

...
Hey, Geof, that's a lotta good stuff. You got some logical points. So howcum you can't get anyone to take them serious? Cause it all gets buried under the something for nothing crowd crying and bleating and moaning and pissing and whinging and carping and howling that they should be allowed to trade music files without paying and without any consequences. Every every every every EVERY point you make about DRM, about privacy, about everything else can get discarded cause your carrying around the deadweight of the crybaby crowd who want to defend take 'em without payin' for 'em as loud as they can. WAH WAH WAH we want WAH WAH WAH we take WAH WAH WAH dont make us pay WAH WAH WAH. Gets a bit tired after a while yes? You and your friends have some serious pionts to make and theyre worth discussion but as long as you dont distance yourslef from the snotnosed gimme gimme for free I see I want I take screw you I never pay bunch you're easy to ignore. Lose the losers and join the discussion like groanups eh.
April 09, 2009

Devil's Advocate said:

...
@Worker Bee:

1) Theft is when you take something away from someone, resulting in a loss. Stealing a car is physical theft. When you take a car from someone, that person is missing a car (or the sale of the car).

File sharing does not result in taking something away from the owner. Even if the file shared is one of copyrighted works, it doesn't result in theft, as the owner still has it.

This BS about "every illegal download equals a lost sale" or saying "it's the same as stealing the product itself" is just that - BS! Comparing digital copyright infringement to physical theft is simply assinine.

2) Copyright did NOT begin as a "life + 50 years" arrangement. It was more like 7-14 years maximum, and with NO EXTENSIONS terms. It was the extensions that have been granted in the last 10-20 years that have resulted in some 50-90-year terms.

It is these "extensions" that violate the very spirit of what copyright was trying to accomplish. According to laws that were in place from the start of it, extensions should never have been allowed.

The important part of the agreement was supposed to be the eventual passing of the works to the Public Domain.

3) I'm a Canadian.

4) You're obviously a k00k.
April 09, 2009

Devil's Advocate said:

The k00ks are out today!
@Hopalong...

If you have any constructive points to argue with Geof or anyone else here, I suggest you make them. Otherwise shut up and let the adults talk.

April 09, 2009

Anon Name said:

Copyright is a PRIVILEGE, a CONTRACT between creator and society
"Copyright is the right held by the creator of a literary work, musical work, artistic work or software to decide how that work should be reproduced and made available to the public."

Wrong.

Copyright is NOT A RIGHT, and it is not a GIVEN right. Not at all. Copyright is a PRIVILEGE, granted by the SOCIETY to the creator of a literary work, musical work, artistic work or software so that the creator has an incentive to create. It is granted on a CONDITION that the work gets returned to the public domain in a reasonable time, so that other creators can build upon it freely and the society can benefit. So, it is a CONTRACT between the creator and the society.

However, the "intellectual" "property" industries have been violating this contract for years, with their lobbying of copyright extension amendments everywhere. The most notorious violator is Disney, who essentially made the copyright term INFINITE to prevent Mickey Mouse from falling into public domain.

THEY are violating their part of the bargain; therefore the contract should be deemed null and the society should be freed of the obligation to respect their part of the deal too.
April 09, 2009

Mark said:

...
This "infinite" time the above poster referred to that Disney is so often blamed for is entirely an American invention, called the "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act", it predates the DMCA by a couple of years, but is a separate beast entirely. To my knowledge, Canada currently has nothing like it.

Another poster remarks, "File sharing does not result in taking something away from the owner. Even if the file shared is one of copyrighted works, it doesn't result in theft, as the owner still has it." Actually, copyright infringement does result in taking something from the owner. While it is true the copyright holder still has the actual work, file sharing _does_ deprive the copyright holder of some measure of the exclusivity he was supposed to have been granted by society to control copies being made of that work barring explicitly named exempt purposes. "Exclusive" does mean, after all, that nobody else is doing it, so if somebody else is doing it, then by definition that exclusivity is being compromised and lessened.

Sure, the exclusivity isn't tangible, but that doesn't mean it isn't of value to somebody. What's more, by infringing on copyright, the reputability of copyright as a whole is damaged, arguably even more than any theoretical damage to just the individual companies or people who make the works.

To address the actual article, I'd like to point out that I can see some validity to the notion that the Canadian copyright act needs to be updated, in light of a digital era, but I cannot help but believe that it is a gross error to pass a law which makes defeating copy protection illegal on a blanket scope without considering the actual purpose for which the copy was made. The biggest issue I have with such a law is that it is actually largely unenforceable, except when a person may happen to have done something that makes their actions publicly known. The law should, of course, apply equally to everybody, so it would seem strange for any governing body to want to pass a law that they not only ought to know they cannot fairly and justly enforce, but actually cannot possibly even have the *intent* to do so, as the only way to fully enforce it would be to spy on people while even in their own homes. If there is no intention to go after the private consumer who is merely copying a work for their own private use, even if they are breaking copyright controls to do it, then why on earth should there be a proposed law that implies they would do exactly that? The only answer that I can think of that makes any sense is that the law is only some sort of hand-waving exercise to present the facade of the government trying to do something about what I do realize is a very serious problem in our political and social climate today. I would sincerely hope that our country would consider its integrity a higher priority than that, and it is for that reason that I object most strongly to the recommendations that were made in Bill C61,
April 10, 2009

Devil's Advocate said:

...
"This "infinite" time the above poster referred to that Disney is so often blamed for is entirely an American invention, called the "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act", it predates the DMCA by a couple of years, but is a separate beast entirely. To my knowledge, Canada currently has nothing like it."

Unfortunately, the Bozo Act has been imitated in various other places of the world, thanks other countries kissing the asses of the very people that want to bring the same philosophy to Canada.

The CRIA is carrying the torch for the RIAA on this one. If we don't challenge these "trade organizations", we'll have "life+50-year" extensions just like elsewhere.
______________________

"...file sharing _does_ deprive the copyright holder of some measure of the exclusivity he was supposed to have been granted..."

In other words, if I allow my friend to borrow my car whenever he needs it, I should be considered guilty of copyright infringement, as I have deprived the automaker of a sale?

I'm sorry, I don't buy this "every file shared 'illegally' equals a theft or a lost sale" propaganda. There are people who download and still buy the product (sampling), and there are people who download who would have never bought it anyway. There can be no missing revenue from either of these groups.

The only place I would draw the line on this would be where people download stuff and then SELL it. This would constitute "distribution" and displacement of profit that belongs to the copyright holder (effectively, stealing it).
April 10, 2009

Devil's Advocate said:

...
"...by infringing on copyright, the reputability of copyright as a whole is damaged, arguably even more than any theoretical damage to just the individual companies or people who make the works."

This is because copyright was designed for the PRINTING PRESS era. By design, it can't accomodate the digital world and carry the same ideals into that realm.

That is why we all need to take a good, hard look at copyright and consider how the very Draconian measures that would be needed to keep it alive in the present environment are so counter-productive to society. Copyright needs to die.
April 10, 2009

Jason K said:

The Artistic Community isn't stupid
Over the past year or so, many artists have been following this debate online. A lot of them are starting to view the CRIA's whispers to be very irrelevant to the debate now. Artists are now seeing their peers come out in strong support for other more viable solutions that include the consumer, and are leaving major labels tied in with the "IA's in drones. The CRIA have been lobbying for change in legislation for a decade now, and artists have seen the damage a DMCA style approach has taken on our American cousins. This money could have been better spent on finding solutions to actually sell product digitally, rather then a decade of failed lobbying.

With this approach by the CRIA once again ignores the needs of the industry to move forward with a balanced approach which includes consumers and artists, you'll see more and more artists leave major labels in Canada, and investor support move towards those labels and artists that are currently using technology to innovate, and build the new economic future for the music industry. The labels role in the new economic future is very different from what it used to be.

The dynamics of this debate have changed somewhat, it's unfortunate for those with ties to the CRIA that this group continues to lag far behind it's industry's counterparts. There is major loss of investors and loss of artistic and consumer interest in these labels. They are no longer relevant to this debate. Maybe changing their tune and joining the rest of us in the Canadian music industry calling for balanced support would actually serve these labels good. EMI is close to being "belly up". Other's in the CRIA who fail to change their tone will be next.
April 10, 2009

Jason K said:

...
Once those lable start to go under, it will be blamed on piracy, but that's far from the truth. There are tons of sucess stories out there. The problem is a group of people in this industry refuse to accept change, and that group of people is starting to shrink due to the amount of sucess stories out there.

Labels are often leaving online promotional material such as much needed myspace, and social profiles for the band to develop themselves. Bands often have to front the bill this which is clearly label responsibility. And now declaring copyright infringement on their own bands who are posting promotional material to make up for label responsibilities (ie. Warner Music and Youtube). Artists are not promoted at all professionally and the way they should be online, by labels and management. This is starting to become quite clear to those in the artistic community, as newer smaller labels start taking up this task!









April 10, 2009

Mark said:

...
What I think needs to happen to copyright is not so much of a dismantling of it, but a fresh look and possibly a willingness on the part of lawmakers to take a deep breath and realize that some levels (including possibly undesirable levels) of copyright infringement is inevitable. Not that I'm saying it should be okay or tolerated, but only that it's going to happen and no attempt at actually enforcing it is going to be as effective as would be desired. To that end, I would suggest that people who are caught infringing on copyright, regardless of whether or not they profit from it, should always be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law... if they happen to have commercial interests involved, the penalty should be all that much more severe. I would also recommend, if my opinion actually mattered to anybody who created these laws, that the exemptions to infringement for personal and private use copying that are currently afforded only to musical works within Canada should apply to *ALL* forms of copyrighted works, not just music... particularly since if a person is genuinely only copying something for their own private use, there is no possible way they can ever be caught, so it simply makes no sense to have an act that a person can do in the privacy of his or her own home without involving _anybody_ else to be illegal. Threatening to assault somebody may be a crime, but should it likewise be criminal to shake your fist in anger at some nutty politician you hear on the television while in the privacy of your own home? All personal use copies of copyrighted works should be exempt from infringement. Anyways.... I also think copyright law should explicitly point out that any offerings to share or distribute any copies in any way would automatically void a notion of private use that could apply to that copy, and that, in turn, may result in copyright infringement charges if the person did not have permission from the copyright holder to have made copies for nonpersonal use in the first place (the notion of private use being exempt from infringement wouldn't need to apply to original copies of the works for them to not be infringing since they were created with permission from the copyright holder in the first place, so for example, one could still completely legally lend out their original CD's to whoever they wanted). I further think that the copyright act should be expanded on so that the personal use exemption does *NOT* apply to copying a work from a copy that itself was already infringing on copyright as it is recognized within Canada. This sort of explicit expansion to the copyright act would give copyright holders and the agencies that represent them the ability to, without any ambiguity, charge people who may simply be downloading copies of copyrighted works from sources that had not obtained permission to have made non-personal use copies. Ideally, this additional disincentive and the potential penalties to copyright infringement accompany it would dissuade at least some segment of the population from participating in it. The remainder, I'm afraid, one can do starkly little about... laws such as what was proposed in bill C61 will not impact such illegal activity in the slightest. In all cases, I would maintain it is the end-users who should face the infringement charges, and not accuse any content-neutral service providers for enabling such infringement (or else one could similarly argue that car manufacturers are enabling people to speed by making cars that can travel that fast... even though I know that there are some who would maintain such a point of view).

Okay, I've rambled on for far too long... I apologize. My feelings and opinions on this matter are quite strong, and I hope people haven't been put off by my expressing them here.
April 10, 2009

mliving said:

Give Control of Copyright Back to the Original Creators
Give control of the original works back to the creators and let them decide.

If we were talking about compensating original artists I think most people would have a different attitude. But we're not and when the recording companies and movies studios tried to convince consumers that we were hurting artists the truth didn't tale long to find the light of day.

Recently the front man for NIN Trent Reznor was quoted about the record companies business practices;

"Biggest wake-up calls of my career was when I saw a record contract.
I said, "Wait - you sell it for $18.98 and I make 80 cents?
And I have to pay you back the money you lent me to make it and then you own it?" (http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/reznor urges musicians to ditch labels_1099985)

I agree it's time to update copyright laws but only for the COMMON good. Legislative shackles like the DMCA and ACTA only serve to entrench the very establishment that want to control their vaulted free-markets. Once the balance shifts back to the people these parasites will be back at the legislative table asking for more legislative solutions to restore their vaulted free market positions.
April 13, 2009

Jackie Boy said:

...
That's an interesting idea, mliving. How would you write a law to implement it? Would the proposition be, "music (or films, or books, etc.) created by individuals is protected by copyright, but anything paid for by a corporation is not protected"? Where would the incentive to invest in the creation of new products come from? Very few movies are created solely by individuals - at least, few movies that people would want to see. Home movies are all produced by individuals, but there isn't much of an audience for them. Anyway, why should the identity of the producer be the issue? Rupert Murdoch has lots of money. Presumably he could fund the production of a big movie out of his own cash. As I understand your idea, you'd protect what he produces, but a group of young filmmakers pooling their resources into the production of a small film would get no protection if they chose to do so in the form of a corporation? Remember that grant bodies like Telefilm won't fund productions made by individuals. They require you to incorporate. Does that mean no copyright protection for works in which the public is, in effect, an investor? What purpose would that serve?

Trent Reznor is a very clever guy, and he has found success by bucking the system. That's great! Many others will attempt the same route, and most will fail. Reznor, like Radiohead and a few other acts, had the opportunity to build a career and an audience through more traditional, corporately funded means before experimenting with new business models. The example may yet come forward, but nobody has successfully managed a Reznor-like project who didn't already have a solid career going on. Doubtless this will happen sooner or later - but shouldn't it be a matter of choice?

No artist today is compelled to sign with a large corporation. But if an artist does so, should his or her choice not be respected simply because he or she chose the corporate route?

You can hate the corporations all you want if it makes you feel good. But artists need money to survive and produce their art. The tour bus demands fuel, and there's no slot on the gas pump for "artistic integrity". The gas station wants money, as does the grocery store, the Motel 6 (or worse), the promoter, the manager, the agent, and so on. Nothin' from nothin' means nothin', as Billy Preston sang. You've got to pay the cost to be the boss, B.B. King sang. Romance without finance just don't make it, King Pleasure sang. If an artist signs with a corporation because part of the attraction is an advance (and those are a lot fewer and farther between than they were in the old days, "good" or not), why should that artist's having done so disqualify him or her, or his or her work, for protection? If a corporation advances money to a new artist to build his or her career, should that corporation not be entitled to earn back that advance? What, ultimately, will induce investors to fund the production of new works if their chief source of revenue-earning opportunities - namely, copyright - is eliminated?

And if you think music or movies can be produced without money, then I've got a dandy bridge down in New York that I'd like to sell you. Have a nice day.
April 14, 2009

Gracey said:

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I seldom buy CDs in a store anymore all...it's much simpler to order online. Also, with the advent of the iPod and digital downloads (paid) people don't have the same need for purchasing music via CD. I don't see that P2P or pirating has as much effect on the industry as does the advent of legal digital files. I don't use P2P, but I also don't buy many CDs anymore...P2P had nothing to do with it.

Also, they say they have no intention of sueing fans...so just who do they think they will be suing? My understanding of filesharers is generally that they are fans. You aren't likely to be downloading files of music you don't like or don't want.

After reading the FAQ...where did they get this information? I don't see many things that are FACTS backed up with some form of proof. Mostly it seems to be conjecture and opinion.

I support copyright, if it's done right. As a photographer and digital artist I better support it, but I don't support what has been happening lately in copyright, whether it's the music or movie industry, or the other arts. I'd definitely like to see a more balanced system.
April 15, 2009

MIchael said:

They have already lost.
They can pass whatever laws they want, and attempt to protect their "copyrights" til the cows come home, but they are not addressing the real point. There is NOTHING they can do. They cannot stop people from downloading music, they can't even come up with a DRM scheme that lasts more than a day. The downloading will continue while they argue, and they will continue to be nothing but voices on the wind. Until they decide to embrace the internet and file sharing nothing they do means a thing.
April 15, 2009

Jackie Boy said:

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Really, Michael? Why haven't you gone the distance, then, and suggested that they torch their premises and slit their wrists too? As near as I can figure out your message, it comes down to, "record companies and movies studios have dared to deny the truth that the Internet has killed their business. I'm offended that they're trying to survive. Why haven't they done the right thing and committed suicide so that we can share files in peace?"

Um, in your glorious filesharing future, who's going to invest in the production of new content? Where's the money going to come from to develop new artists and new content? Who's going to fund new films if they do what you want and "embrace the internet" and settle for a future with no income?

Sorry to be rude, but do you work, by any chance, in the entertainment business? Have you ever developed a project, brought it to market, met a payroll, raised money from investors, applied for a grant or financial support? My impression is that you, and others who share your point of view on this board, here and otherwise, approach these issues solely from the perspective of a consumer with no thought for the challenge facing the artist, the producer or the investor. Somebody has to produce the content. And that somebody needs to get paid for it, or it's just not going to happen. The world you say we should "embrace" is a world in which we don't get paid for what we do. Do you work for free? WILL you work for free if we are compelled to? While I don't know what you do for a living, I'd hazard a guess that the answer is no. Have a nice day.
April 15, 2009

CrushU said:

Honestly
No one's said they have to settle for a future with no income. Stop being a naysayer. The Internet has not killed their business; It killed CDs and they're trying to cling to them. The Internet has killed their business in that it is a gun and the **IA has pointed it at themselves and is threatening to pull the trigger. They need to go out and hunt some deer. :P

Make no mistake: Record Labels Do Not Produce Content. Content will exist and be produced if they all vanished off the face of the Earth tomorrow. Stop insisting they are a necessary part of the transaction.

Here's the thing though: I don't think the Record Labels need to go away. They need to focus on building Business, not relying on Litigation and Laws and Lobbyists to provide them with income.
April 15, 2009

Jackie Boy said:

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Friendly handle you've got there, CrushU. Though they aren't what they were, CDs aren't dead yet. They're still the most popular format for the sale of music. Record labels have made millions of tracks available for commercial sale through a wide range of vendors - not enough of them in Canada, but that's another discussion. You probably think they should do it through other means, such as blanket licensing, and that may come. But their wishes deserve respect. The correct response, if their chosen method of doing business does not sit well with you, is to refrain from buying their products, not to endorse taking them without compensation. That this may be an unpopular or minority point of view does not diminish its truth.

You say that record labels do not produce content. You've capitalized each word in that sentence, so I gather you believe it emphatically. Perhaps the term "produce" should be clarified: if, by "produce" you mean "write the songs", "perform the music" and "engineer the sound recording" - and that alone - then you may be correct. But production includes far more than that: it includes mastering, preparing the resulting recording for distribution in many formats, including CD and digital, creating and manufacturing the packaging, the disc and the graphic material. The latter is relevant in the case of physical and digital distribution, while the former two tasks are relevant to physical distribution alone. But these tasks don't happen by themselves; they cost money, because people have to perform them and materials are consumed. All this requires money. Whether it comes out of the pocket of the performing artist or the bank account of the record company, it's still money. It's still an investment that's made in the hope and, perhaps, expectation of sales, so that the person or company making the investment will be able to recoup his, her or its investment and go on to create other content.

Will "content" exist even if all record companies vanished off the face of the earth tomorrow? Of course. All of the existing content that's in existence today will still be there, and people will continue to seek it out and, hopefully enjoy it. I suppose the difference, in the case of content owned by record labels, would be that nobody would have to pay for it ever again. This may be the end which you seek. We will have to agree to disagree on that point. And, of course new recordings would be made if there were no record companies. Suppose that those who made them achieved a significant degree of marketplace success; I can only conclude from your views that you would load them into the tumbrels, too. Are you saying that the only good producer of sound recordings or movies is one which never makes a profit from its activities?

You've also suggested that record companies need to "focus on building Business" and that they should not rely on litigation and laws and lobbyists. I suppose there isn't much point in reminding you that no lawsuits have been started against individuals arising out of file sharing in Canada and it seems unlikely that they will, in view of their failure to change anything in the United States. I am not a spokesman for a record company, so I have no inside information on this issue.

But you also suggest that record companies should not have the benefit of laws. Surely you're not serious. Do you have any other individuals, groups or industries taht you'd like to deny the benefit of laws? Again, you may not like record companies for any number of reasons - they really do go out of their way to be unlovable - but they are citizens, inidvidual and corporate. They are just as entitled to the protection of laws as you or I.

As for lobbyists, can I suggest that you be realistic? First, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of speech. Companies, like individuals, have a constitutional and moral entitlement to speak on their own behalf to government and to the public. If the engagement of lobbyists were a magic formula, record companies would have acheived every one of their aims in Ottawa long ago. Everybody lobbies. Record companies, telephone companies, broadcasters, cable companies, satellite companies, film producers, film distributors, actors, writers, musicians, songwriters, retailers, manufacturers, distributors ... the list is endless. To suggest that any industry should either be deprived of the right to represent itself to government, either individually or through trade associations makes no sense. And, if it hasn't escaped your attention, Mr. Geist is, in effect, the lobbyist for those who agree with his point of view. That's the way the game is played, and it's either disingenuous or naive to suggest otherwise. Have a nice day.
April 15, 2009

Fedge said:

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1. Piracy is what happens off the coast of Somalia. The entertainment industry even went as far to PROMOTE real piracy as being "cool" with the Johnny Depp movies!

2. Record companies and movie studios can take an old product, release an "anniversary" special edition and slap a new copyright date on it. IE: A reissue of U2's first album will say "P&C 2008 Universal-Island Records", thus extending the copyright FOREVER if they wanted.

3. CD/Downloads/DVD/BluRay etc cost too much. $20 for a CD? $26 for a DVD? 99¢ for an MP3? TOO MUCH! $40 for Changeling on BlueRay? Screw THAT! Lower the price to somewhere near REALITY and you might see customers come back...

4. ...if you already haven't alienated them with high prices, dickish moves with DRM (we haven't forgotten you, EMI and Sony, you GREEDY JACKALS). DRM on DVDs/BluRay is ASSININE!

5. Most, if not ALL albums and movies that end up available for free on the internet are sourced from promo copies sent to journalists. I see TONS of albums ahead of release dates this way. Same with movies - it was a Fox employee or person under contract to Fox that leaked the Wolverine movie! And Fox wants the downloaders to be sued! SUE THE UPLOADER! I'd like that - Fox sues one of its own for "stealing" a movie. Ha!

6. Bottomline: prices are too high, DRM must stop and, most importantly, the record companies (Warner, EMI, Sony and Universal) and the movie studios have lost ANY goodwill they might have had to bargain with. Being dicks to your customers will NOT save you.

7. $20 for a CD? I mean, COME ON!
April 18, 2009

Sean said:

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Jackie Boy,

It's nice to have someone arguing for the side of big content, rather than just a me-too corporate bashing. These conversations usually go along the politics of who's doing the arguing. People engaged with traditional media don't want change. They usually want new laws to prevent new technology from changing anything and don't care who they hurt. Users want the benefits of new technology and don't care who they hurt. Entrepreneurs want the benefits of new technology so they can capture marketshare from entrenched media companies.

In order to figure out the right thing to do, we have to forget about what we want as individuals and go back to moral principals. This is what I believe:

1) Individuals and corporations (which are just vehicles for individuals to organize their businesses) have a right to produce goods and services and to offer them to the market at whatever price they see fit. When I say "individual" I also mean "corporation"

2) Individuals and corporations are free to buy goods and services or not.

3) Nobody has a "right" to a job. Nobody has a "right" to housing, or food, or anything like that.

4) Nobody has a "right" to have their private interests protected by government use of force. (real or implied threat)

5) Nobody has a "right" to take freedoms of others away from them in order to protect their private interests.

6) It is wrong to force anyone to work against their will, or to take the product of their work, no matter how good the cause may seem.

7) It is wrong to force any individual to purchase any product or service against their will.

8) Real property is different than property created by Copyright, Trademark, and Patent.

Are these statements sensible to you, or do you have a different philosophy?
April 19, 2009

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