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The Toronto Music Industry Town Hall

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Thursday August 27, 2009

Tonight the government held its second copyright town hall.  Only it wasn't really a copyright townhall in the sense of bringing the community together to talk copyright in an open and balanced manner.  Instead, the music industry stacked the room to such a degree that little else was discussed.  There was the odd intervention from ACTRA, the Writers Guild, the education community, and software developers (and a self-professed pirate who may have worn a fair copyright shirt but did not discuss anything that resembled fair copyright), but the repeated music industry representation was the dominant theme of the night (you can see for yourself here).

My own view is that it was so over-the-top that their message was lost in light of such an obvious orchestrated attempt to stack the deck.  This was not a real townhall that brought together differing views, but rather an all-out effort by the industry to scoop up the available seats, guarantee themselves a dominant voice, and exclude many alternative voices in the process.

With just over two weeks left in the consultation, there should be no doubt that the lobby groups will be engaging in a major effort to push for their DMCA-style reforms.  The calls for three-strikes and you're out, notice and takedown, DMCA anti-circumvention legislation, and no flexible fair dealing will only get louder.  Now is the time for Canadians - many of whom could not get a seat at the townhall since it was filled by industry reps just days after the consultation launch - to speak out.  Don't wait - send in your comments today and encourage others to do the same.

Comments (96)add comment

Jason K said:

...
"and a self-professed pirate who may have worn a fair copyright shirt but did not discuss anything that resembled fair copyright"

Probably paid by industry to do this. Don't forget this is an entertainment cartel that was in attendance tonight. The thing is, bloggers own this debate, not them. People get their information now from blogs, and the net, not from stacked townhall meetings. Sony music installed rootkits on its DRM and was sued, Warner has lost a tremendous amount of talent because of the way they have acted against the consumer, and talent, and Universal is traditionally and always the last to change with the times in the industry.

My comments at least made it to the floor, although in the middle of this industry swan song:

"Independent Research has clearly shown (in economic terms) a cycle of creative destruction in the IP industries. The old system and model of IP is obsolete as it relates to the digital revolution. We need to provide new revenue streams for our creative talent, and monetizing the peer to peer networks is a great part of the solution to this problem. Will the government put forth an understanding of the process of Creative Destruction, stop looking at other countries who do not have a complete understanding of this process and how it relates to IP, and put forth a true Canadian approach that will allow our creative talent to emerge far ahead in the global marketplace?"



August 27, 2009

Jason K said:

...
"My comments at least made it to the floor, although in the middle of this industry swan song:"

Sorry ment to say: "My comments at least made it to the floor (although in the middle of the industry swan song):

August 27, 2009

MVEG said:

Thank you for your tweets (that includes your followers/friends)!
Your commentary made the webcast so much easier to sit through. It looks like I will be doing an e-mail marathon tomorrow!
August 27, 2009

Bob Morris said:

...
Sorry Prof but you have only yourself to blame. You were calling for YOUR supporters to turn out in force so why is it so wrong for people who don't agree with you to do the same?
August 27, 2009

Paul Tichonczuk said:

...
I was there. It was sad to see.
Here is my post on it
http://tracer99.blogspot.com/2009/08/canadian-copyright-town-hall-toronto.html
August 27, 2009

Stephen van Egmond said:

...
Bob,
The difference is between people who have to show up to protect their job or suck up to their boss, and people who are genuinely passionate on a given topic.

A friend of mine was there, and by his estimate there were three (3) people who are outside the creative/copyright industry.

http://tracer99.blogspot.com/2009/08/canadian-copyright-town-hall-toronto.html
August 27, 2009

Paul Tichonczuk said:

...
haha.. Thanks Stephen. We double posted.
August 27, 2009

akston @ statismwatch.ca/tag/media/ said:

The traffic back to 'Liberty Village' must have been horrendous
This is just so demoralizing... what can we do to get Canadians to wake up to the fact this is an international regime that's being pushed through into Canadian law? It's a specific issue, and should be dealt with on its own merits, but the realization should also be there that ACTA and similar international treaties are a threat to this nation's sovereignty. We need to find our own solutions. Borders still exist. I read with interest the American judgement today that MPAA (?) couldn't simply assert that IsoHunt had breached American DMCA since the plaintiff had not yet made its case that American citizens had breached American law and engaged in infringement using IsoHunt. It's this kind of thinking, and the erecting of decentralized legal firewalls between jurisdictions, that needs to be encouraged, since the pressure seems to be towards ignoring national jurisdictions and forcing everyone onto the same copyright treaty. You know what? I didn't vote for it.
August 27, 2009

Warren Sheffer said:

Compelling Comments
I was at tonight's Town-hall. Undoubtedly there were a significant number of employees from record companies that had their numbers drawn in the random speakers' list lottery. However, I would have thought that the government gave no preferential treatment to people that signed up to attend. Michael, perhaps you have proof to the contrary.

I think all of the record company employees spoke genuinely about their livelihoods depending on copyright, regardless of whether or not you agree with their views. However the most compelling comments tonight, in my view, came from eloquent creators in the crowd that had their numbers picked, which included musicians, actors, authors and a screen writer. I think the only real 'over-the-top' comments this evening came from the ridiculous, self-declared pirate. Arrgh matey.
August 27, 2009

James Cogney said:

Are these Town Halls Open to the Public?
Hi,

I've been following these consultations a little passively, but tonight has got me a little confused.

1) Was tonight a true town hall, where anyone can come, and *potentially* ask a question, or was it still by invite only?
2) If it was by invite only, how did so many industry supporters get an invite?
3) If it wasn't invite only, was this AstroTurfing similar to the problems in the US right now in their town halls for Health Care reform?

I have great respect for Michael and Jesse, keep up the good work.

James
August 27, 2009

Roger Festle said:

The sad thing was Mr. Clement was there
This will stick in his mind more than 3000 letters written by concerned Canadians. Somehow a stacked audience with a random draw will mean more than what is expressed within the econsultation.

This is very disappointing.
August 27, 2009

Chris Jarvis said:

Re: Warren Sheffer
Warren,

Many of these groups that appeared in this townhall have already spoken (in some cases several times) in this debate and through town-halls previously through groups like the CRIA who these groups that showed up tonight pay to advocate for them. The public barely had a chance to get tickets because it was quite obvious tonight the vast majority of those ticket sales were scooped up by industry. Even local MP's have to fight to get a seat.

I found the whole thing quite childish in my oppionion, and rather than giving the night to the people of Toronto, we ended up with a lot of wasted time. This "stunt" has done very little other than serve to piss off the arm that feeds creative talent, the Canadian public, and some of those creators in the crowd tonight who have vastly different views from those already represented were not given an equal chance to be heard tonight. By pulling this stunt, these groups have further alienated their future income and customers, and from what I heard tonight, a lot of admission from creative talent that they are fleeing to smaller labels. Is law really the reason why, or is it stunts like this that's providing a much needed double take on contracts? Grow up, this is not how professionals act.



August 27, 2009

Logan Marshall said:

...
...
"Sorry Prof but you have only yourself to blame. You were calling for YOUR supporters to turn out in force so why is it so wrong for people who don't agree with you to do the same?"

I agree 100%.
Also I was there as well - and the other thing that you apparently didn't notice, Mr. Geist, were the number empty chairs and the number of name tags that were not picked up prior to the Town Hall. (my count was in the 75-100 range).
We'll never know who registered and didn't show up - but perhaps your supporters were the ones missing from the meeting? Perhaps they could have made a difference. Perhaps they didn't think it was important enough. I guess we'll never know.

...
"The difference is between people who have to show up to protect their job or suck up to their boss, and people who are genuinely passionate on a given topic. "

Stephen,
I was one of the people from the music industry, although I did not speak as my number wasn't called.
And I can tell you - I was not forced to be there. I was not sucking up to my boss. I am "genuinely passionate" about this topic. It may shock you to learn that there are a great number of people just like me. People within the music industry who DO care about this issue. Passion is not something exclusive to your side of the discussion.

James,
This town hall was indeed open to the public.
There was a limited number of spaces - but it was indeed open to anyone who registered, and was not invite only.


August 28, 2009

Chris Jarvis said:

...
"Sorry Prof but you have only yourself to blame. You were calling for YOUR supporters to turn out in force so why is it so wrong for people who don't agree with you to do the same?"

You know the more the industry goons write the more stupid you sound, and the more it can be used against you in other blogs. This isn't about Giest or Industry supporters, tonight was supposed to be about the people of Toronto, and the voting public.

"James,
This town hall was indeed open to the public.
There was a limited number of spaces - but it was indeed open to anyone who registered, and was not invite only."

Which was sold out in 3 days to people who already had their voice heard through the CRIA and other lobby groups in other townhalls, and round tables.

"I am "genuinely passionate" about this topic. It may shock you to learn that there are a great number of people just like me. People within the music industry who DO care about this issue."

There are also people in the industry that disagree with the majority of Music execs and Musicians that didn't have the chance to appear tonight.
August 28, 2009

Ben Lewis said:

Student Prevented from Flyering at "Public Town Hall"
Myself and a few other representatives of the Canadian Federation of Students attended the town hall, although we did not "win" the right to speak.

Knowing that this might be the case, we brought some flyers to distribute beforehand detailing our position on expanded fair dealing, regulation of TPMs, "notice and notice", and the elimination of crown copyright.

Unfortunately, event organisers immediately sent hotel security guards after us who stated that we either needed to put the flyers away or we would be removed from the premises. Alarming and frustrating to say the least. So much for the idea of it being a "public town hall".
August 28, 2009

Jason K said:

...
One of the voices silenced by a heavy CRIA showing at this town hall:

http://lovehatethings.com/impromptu-lovehate-podcast

August 28, 2009

Jeff Preboy said:

Citizen
I attended, and I may have been unable to communicate my position or incoherent, I'm not sure. I was upset.

There really wasn't time to make a presentation or put forth thoughts. I contend that the system was rigged. The time allotted was too short. The town-hall was run as a lottery, but most of the people in the room were either music industry or friends of music industry.

What draws my attention to the fact that I thought this was an organised Sham was the fact that aside from the lottery, an allotment of "individuals and organisations who specialise in copyright issues" were going to be forcibly feed into the lottery by the organisers "for viewpoint". We do not know what percentage of those people were allowed to address the gathering were those interested in lobbying the bill from the content side, but someone could certainly do a tally.

For every one person who may have wanted to talk in favour of consumers, 15 were allowed to talk for organisations whom already had the government's ear. This only made it such that real input (other than the lobbyists) was denied.

PS. for those who don't know, the Devo thing with Warner music is this link http://daringfireball.net/linked/2008/05/22/devo
I also made mention of Cinar, a film production company, who recently lost a suit for copyright infringement in Quebec.

I just want consumer entitlement defined without all the industry greed involved. also, I see no need to enact legislation which will allow legal action against non-commercial copyright infringers. those who make money from copyright infringement are the ones who should be pursued.
August 28, 2009

Jeff Preboy said:

P.S. comments at the Town-Hall... I'm just a Canadian Voter and Citizen
My comments regarding if downloads were charged at a reasonable rate (Mad Men) was just to illustrate that IP has to be looked at from outside the box.

Maybe, content creators could compete with downloads if they weren't always trying to rip us off. If everyone in Canada where offered a reasonable price, economies of scale to deliver valuable amounts to the content industry. We know that there are less production costs and distribution costs in this digital age.

This whole commentary tonight was just supporting the old business model. A new model has to be come up with. Government should not be instituting legislation which will prop up an old manner of doing business and should most certainly not do the dirty work for the content industry in policing or making it a criminal offence as one speaker wished.
August 28, 2009

Ian Runkle said:

Copyright Sham Consultation
At the 11th hour before the meeting, those scheduled to participate received an email that included this line:

"4. In addition to those who registered for the Town Hall through the website, we have invited some individuals and organizations who specialize in copyright issues or can speak on behalf of a large number of Canadians for whom copyright is a significant issue. So that everyone can benefit from a breadth of perspectives, we will also be calling on some of them — again, selected by lottery — to present their points of view."

This was not an unbiased townhall. This was a forum that was deliberately seeded by the government. Warner Music Canada in fact had three rows of people present. Even presuming that the actual draw was fair (which I think there is reason to seriously doubt under the circumstances), the pool of participants was so badly skewed, and deliberately skewed as to make the exercise futile.

Personally, I am active with Fair Copyright Canada's Edmonton chapter. We were denied an invitation to the round table there. I flew out to Toronto at my own expense to participate in this farce of a town hall, but like many others there to speak for more fair copyright laws, I never got near a microphone. Instead, we got to hear Warner Music's opinion several times.

Consumers are being shut out of the discussion. Round tables are being held that consist of industry representatives, plus possibly a token other voice "for balance", as though a table consisting of representataives from the content industries and a single consumer rights advocate is balanced. The town halls are rigged. The consumer has been relegated to the most easily ignored form of communication. The process appears to be entirely corrupt.
August 28, 2009

Jeff said:

...
Was it frustrating to finally participate in a balanced conversation where someone other than the children that want free access to music was heard? I bet it was. Poor you.
August 28, 2009

Andrew Butash said:

Seriously stacked room
I was there last night, and there was a serious disconnect between what was being expressed in that room and the obvious prevailing opinions in the online discussion. Jeff, this wasn't a "balance conversation" at all. It was heavily skewed toward the industry. We heard from no less that four people from Warner Music, as well as people from Universal and Sony Music. They complained about how they've lost artists in their labels, but neglected to mention that most Canadian artists are under independent labels who broke away from the CRIA in 2006 because they didn't agree with the direction the major labels were heading. They have no Canadian interests left to represent! They represent foreign companies with a vested interest in keeping their obsolete business model going as long as possible.

I didn't get a chance to speak from the "random" lottery (I have my doubts about that now), but the few people who actually tried to present the other side of the debate were scoffed and laughed at. People called out taunts during their comments. I was very unimpressed with the people from the industry last night. Some of them were downright rude. We didn't interrupt when they were speaking, even though we disagreed with what they were saying.
August 28, 2009

Darryl Moore said:

...
I was there as well, but unfortunately never got a chance to speak. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a sham, but the music recording industry certainly did their best to stack the room. Too great effect.

It was ironic in hindsight to have heard the moderator tell participants before the actual webcast that they should consider passing on their opportunity to speak (if their number was drawn) if the point they were going to make was already made by another person, so as to give other perspectives an opportunity as well. The advice was obviously ignored, as the message coming from the well stacked floor was very much the same through the night.

One other poster above suggests there were only three people outside the industry sector who had a chance to speak. I would agree with that, but only if you included the pirate in the count and it was rather difficult to take him seriously. Unfortunately none of them were well articulated either.
August 28, 2009

Robbo said:

Absolutely Pathetic
That a dying industry from the past century holds significant lobby power to skew government policy and hobble this country from advancing with the innovations that are screaming past us is just frickin' sad. That these smug pricks think they could do this and get away with it is just pathetic. It's Comcast and the FCC all over again. How do they exist in this world without being aware of transparent and ugly their actions are?

We know the government won't arrange to hold a second townhall to make up for this ridiculous childish prank by citing the limited time available. Our only recourse now is to continue to make as much noise as possible. Get the true perspective of the citizens heard and keep revealing the tactics of lies and obfuscation practiced by both industry and government.

What a shameful bunch of pinheads.

Cheers
August 28, 2009

Joe Clark said:

Shorter Toronto copyleftists Everyone should have the right to speak at a government-sponsored copyright town hall except our opponents
At a meeting where anyone from the general public may attend, what is the maximum number or percentage of your opponents who may attend?

When speaker positions are determined by drawing numbers rather than lining up at microphones, how many of your opponents need to win a chance to speak for too many of your opponents to have spoken?
August 28, 2009

EK said:

Message re. 'individuals and organizations who specialize in copyright issues'
Can others here confirm receipt of the following?

"4. In addition to those who registered for the Town Hall through the website, we have invited some individuals and organizations who specialize in copyright issues or can speak on behalf of a large number of Canadians for whom copyright is a significant issue. So that everyone can benefit from a breadth of perspectives, we will also be calling on some of them — again, selected by lottery — to present their points of view."
August 28, 2009

Paul Tichonczuk said:

...
EK
I can confirm section 4. was in the email.

Logan Marshall
"We'll never know who registered and didn't show up - but perhaps your supporters were the ones missing from the meeting?" I seriously doubt it. Especially since I overheard many times from several groups how so and so couldn't make it. I'm sure people from both sides couldn't make it. I barely could.

Jeff
Please review the definition of Balanced.
For the record, I'm not demanding free access to anything.
August 28, 2009

Darryl Moore said:

...
Yes EK, I got the exact same email. More irony. The "individuals and organizations who specialize in copyright issues" were the only ones who really got a voice at the town hall. So much for any "benefit from a breadth of perspectives"
August 28, 2009

Harold said:

fairness?
Is there any way to tell if an emailed submission is received at the Copyright Consultations website, and what happens to it from there?
I have seen that it may be counted as a signature on an online form even though I made sure to send it from my computer. Because I have doubts that mine will counted fairly, I registered at the website and put the whole thing up as a comment.
August 28, 2009

Marcel said:

Not one word spoken about digital data or maps
Not one word was mentioned all night about digital data and maps. I tried but through the instituted lottery I was not able to speak. Interestingly 4 warner music canada reps did get to speak.

Data and maps are important tools that Canadians simply cannot do without but that are being withheld or strongly controlled from us because of Crown Copyright. And yet all we can talk about are DRM's and royalties. These are important issues, but there are other issues that are just being completely drowned out by the culture factor.
August 28, 2009

Geof said:

...
@fairness:

At the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition (the Vancouver chapter of FCFC) had heard rumors that the government might be using software to classify all received form letters as a single submission, even if the writers had made changes. A couple of days ago Michael Geist confirmed that something like this is in fact happening.

We have put together a guide to make it easy to write a consultation submission. We want to encourage as many people as possible to write by making it easy to write a submission - in your own words, avoiding any filtering. You can get the guide at http://faircopy.ca
August 28, 2009

Roger Festle said:

Marcel please submit to the econsultation about data and maps
Marcel it is very important that when you are an expert or interested in an area to illuminate the issues that you deal with in the area. In Canada where our country is so vast map data is valuable to the public at large for recreation and for activism, but if it is locked within libraries and locked within city hall with expensive licensing fees we're all screwed. Please submit a letter.
August 28, 2009

MythBuster said:

...
When the tide turns against Geist's anti-reform crusade, we're told the consultation is "stacked", with ominous hints of a conspiracy to "exclude" other voices. When the tide runs in his favour, it's "a grassroots uprising" reflecting collective will. Can Geist not just accept the possibility that so many creators and creative industry people signed up precisely because they are truly passionate about this issue - the same passion that was evident in their remarks? Oh, sorry, when THEY are passionate, no matter how thoughtful and well-informed their interventions, they are "over the top".

As for the many empty seats, if Geist's minions were truly motivated enough to get down to the Royal York, those seats would have been filled. But they were not.

Best of all is Geist's weak attempt to disassociate the "self-professed pirate" from his Fair Copyright group. Here's the truth: guys like him are the BACKBONE of Fair Copyright. With the acknowledged 6 terabytes of stolen material on his hard drive, he's probably the Belle of the Fair Copyright Ball.

All in all, this was one of the best postings yet. Many, many thanks, Michael.
August 28, 2009

Anobe said:

...
Yep, like I said before in the comments section, somehow they're going in for the kill right at the last minute. I knew this was going to happen sometime soon, and this is going to get ugly real fast.
August 28, 2009

Marcel said:

Marcel please submit to the econsultation about data and maps
Yes, I did submit my presentation, have written a letter and will post further comments. I have also pointed many to read to my full entry from my blog at http://maplib.blogspot.com/
August 28, 2009

Rob Bolton said:

...
I was one of the music industry speakers last night – a “shameful pinhead”, I guess (charming). Want to address a few things I’ve seen posted here and on the Twitter feed in the interests of clarity:

"Music industry stacks deck, excludes alternate voices."
Yes, there were a lot of people there that worked in the music industry. We care about this issue, so we went. Speakers were chosen by a legit lottery. I registered because I wanted to (not “sucking up to my boss” etc), attended, my number was picked (just random luck), I spoke. Nothing unfair about the process. As for “excluding” others, how did I do that by attending an open forum? Anyone could have registered and attended just like I did - it was easy. Simply not true.

"Stacked #copycon many wanted right to sue consumers for not paying for music"
When has this ever been put forward? The suing of consumers (e.g in the US) didn’t exactly make for good PR, did it? Everyone learned that this isn’t the approach to take, and moved on. Suing grannies? Won’t happen, full stop. In fact, I wouldn’t even want to sue the 6TB “pirate” dude – would rather enforce the ability for those who don’t want their works on his servers to have them removed through a legitimate and open process supported by our government. I’d actually rather work WITH him to see how his technical expertise could help us build a great new legitimate service here.

"This whole commentary tonight was just supporting the old business model." And the industry wants to "skew government policy and hobble this country from advancing with the innovations that are screaming past us"
Nope. Everyone I know in the industry is 100% interested in pursuing new digital business models – and (gasp!) even ones that (like Spotify) use P2P technology! We are practically begging for exciting new services to come and operate here, but they don’t really see Canada as a viable or safe market. This is fact, based on my real experience.

"It's sad that the majority of people who seem to make it out for #copycon are those being paid to be there. / one of the few who's not a paid shill). #copycon"
Seriously? Obviously not true. I’m paid to help promote artists in the hopes that people will want to part with a little bit of money for enjoying their hard work. I went to the town hall of my own free will. Crazy, I know!

"Oh yeah, they sure are losing jobs and "artists cannot support themselves. Bring on the liesss.. #copycon"
Whoa. Lies? Nope – mountains of data to support the decrease in revenue, income and jobs throughout ALL areas of the music industry.
August 28, 2009

James Ashton said:

@Mythbuster
If you're going to hide behind an alias may I suggest "Industry Shill"? There is so much nonsense in your post I'm going to address it point by point.

"When the tide turns against Geist's anti-reform crusade, we're told the consultation is "stacked", with ominous hints of a conspiracy to "exclude" other voices." When the tide runs in his favour, it's "a grassroots uprising" reflecting collective will."

There are thousands of Canadians dedicated to balanced copyright reform, get it though your head that this isn't Prof. Geist's personal crusade. The only reforms we're against are the backward, misguided laws (DMCA, HADOPI) that have failed miserably in the other countries that they've been attempted in.

"Can Geist not just accept the possibility that so many creators and creative industry people signed up precisely because they are truly passionate about this issue - the same passion that was evident in their remarks?"

The vast majority of submissions to the copyright consultation are in favour of balanced copyright reform. The town hall was in no way indicative of that. Such a ridiculous imbalance doesn't tend to happen at random, especially not when the organizers announce at the last minute the certain parties will be given preferential access to speaking.

"As for the many empty seats, if Geist's minions were truly motivated enough to get down to the Royal York, those seats would have been filled. But they were not."

Only you and one other commenter here have claimed there were empty seats, and the other commenter stated they are an industry rep. Can you elaborate on this empty seat claim? For all we know the seats were empty because the participants hadn't arrived yet or the left early disgusted at the blatant imbalance of representation. The claim that anyone in favour of balanced copyright reform is somehow Prof. Geist's personal minion is absurd and paranoid.

"Best of all is Geist's weak attempt to disassociate the "self-professed pirate" from his Fair Copyright group. Here's the truth: guys like him are the BACKBONE of Fair Copyright. With the acknowledged 6 terabytes of stolen material on his hard drive, he's probably the Belle of the Fair Copyright Ball."

Saying something is the truth without backing it up doesn't make it a truth, it makes it an opinion. In this case it is your opinion that the members of Fair Copyright are pirates. Back up your claim if you want it to be taken seriously.
August 28, 2009

Sal74845 said:

...
@Rob Bolton

I think why many are upset is due to the fact that the music industry already gets plenty of access to government to have their feelings known.
August 28, 2009

Geof said:

We are not Geist's "minions"
James Ashton writes, "get it though your head that this isn't Prof. Geist's personal crusade."

Thank you. I am a co-founder of the Vancouver Fair Copyright Coalition. We are not Professor Geist's "minions" - or anyone's for that matter. My perspective is dramatically different from his. If Geist and I were talking to each other regularly (which we aren't), I suspect we would spend most of our time arguing. Geist prompted the formation of the groups, and suggested meetings, but that’s about it. He does not give us directives or instructions. On two, maybe three occasions he offered his advice - and as I recall we didn’t agree.

Geist was the trigger for this movement, but the movement was already latent. Individually, we already existed - thousands of us had been concerned for years. We just had not found each other, or found a way to give our concerns voice. (And we are the tip of the iceberg.) Then Geist started the original Facebook group. He was the trigger. He is a tremendous resource of information, reporting and analysis. But he is not our leader. We do not have a leader. In many ways, hierarchies are more powerful and effective than networks (as we saw last night). The vast majority of our opponents are hierarchical organizations. We are not. We are fundamentally different from them. We are ordinary citizens come together around a common interest. I truly believe that we are more democratically legitimate than the companies we oppose (not than the individuals). We are more disinterested than them, and we are citizens. Everything we do is on our own time and our own dime.

For the record, pirates are not our “backbone.” I personally do not engage in filesharing. I know other active members of my group have said the same. Nobody claims or boasts about filesharing at our meetings, nor do we encourage it. Try talking to someone who is only in it for “free stuff.” You know what they say? “I copy stuff now. I don’t care what the law says: I will continue to copy stuff. They can’t stop me, so why should I care?” The most these people do is open their mouths occasionally to show how smart they think they are. They are not the ones who come out to meetings or make the effort to write letters to their MPs.

Who *does* come to our meetings? We have had musicians, artists, a video game designers, computer programmers, a translator, librarians, educators, businesspeople, students, and ordinary folks. Whatever the reasons for the industry domination of last night’s meeting, it is obvious that it was utterly unrepresentative of citizens concerned about copyright.
August 28, 2009

Chad said:

Rob Bolton
"Everyone I know in the industry is 100% interested in pursuing new digital business models"

If this was the case and done properly than the tone of last night’s conversation would have been far different than what it was. I am a part of the industry as well, and represent in the new digital model (making money for the talent I represent), and I didn't hear anything that came from the Reps last night that even remotely resembles and understanding of talents needs in this marketplace, nor an understanding of where the market is currently place or how to actually sell and promote in that market. If that understanding does not change, than it will be people like me that will be putting you out of work, not consumers.

As for the self professed pirate, I found that to be quite the obvious prank pulled by industry considering who was in attendance last night, and the threat the fair copyright group has posed to outdated business models (and was obviously written in the script when this consultation started). In the past 2 years, the Fair Copyright for Canada group has had enough time to establish and communicate it’s principals to the public, and that’s represented by the over 3000 submissions to this consultation. If you want a reality check, many high level reps at Sony, Warner, Universal that I know do use P2P personally, and some professionally. In fact when Napster was around, some of the people working for the copyright department over at Universal were taking advantage of the T1 connection the company offered for their downloads. Not to mention all the DVD screeners that are currently worked on in the studio's and "magically" find their way to the public P2P networks.

We are all pirates right now. Anytime you visit any website you are downloading copy protected material (logo's, graphics, text) on to your HD so the page can be viewed, it's unavoidable. I guarantee at one point in time Rob, you have also used the P2P networks, or you have someone in your family that does. It's the nature of the beast. We need to make money off of this, not criminalize our main source of income.

Last night did nothing but alienate you from your main source of income, the consumer. That's how it came down with respect to the public. Industry Reps that appeared last night have very little credibility with the Canadian Public, and stunts like what happened last night, kind of drives that home for many. The more companies do these types of things, the more people they represent go elsewhere. It's a major turnoff for talent to see professionals in this industry act like grade 5 students in a school yard brawl, I know because I deal with a lot of those leaving Universal, Warner and Sony in Canada. A huge number of talent is fed up with the behavior of these organizations.

I am 100% behind the fact that artistic talent needs more money, but also mindful that only 2% of talent actually make enough to call it a career. That figure hasn't changed at all over the past 50 years, and it could be actually a lot higher now, because of the opportunities presented by the P2P networks. Some us know how to properly promote talent on these networks, which turns into $$$ and professional work down the road. There is not “choice” creators have on what system they prefer. The system has changed, and that choice right now with respect to talent is between labels that have adapted and moved on vs. ones that are failing and not even promoting in the current marketplace to ensure return on investment.

One of my favorite interviews thus far that's come out of "the industry" is this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA9SQZOq0nc

While you guys weren't calling to sue consumers, you want ISP's to take their connection away (according to the groups who have advocated on your behalf in this debate) if caught downloading. If the P2P networks are hindered in anyway, the talent you represents stands to suffer a great deal, since there is massive evidence to prove it's actually helping the situation. Good luck, and you guys have given me a tremendous amount of material to work with when I start speaking to your talent about contract renewals.

Cheers!
Chad



August 28, 2009

Chris Brand said:

Minister's wrap-up
I missed the majority of the webcast, due to being in the wrong part of the country. I did catch the end, though, when the Minister said something like "I have an open mind, but we have to update the Copyright Act. It's over ten years since we signed WIPO". It struck me as funny that he seems to have decided that we have to ratify WIPO, yet still thinks he has an "open mind".
August 28, 2009

David Collier-Brown said:

I attended and noted a block of reserved seating
Which arguably was the invitees.

I did notice the number of musicians and
music industry employees was high, many
of whom expressed entirely understandable
concern for their jobs.

I didn't get selected to speak, but if I
had, would have appealed for the people
who have benefited from new media to
speak up and advise Parliament on what
they need, lest they be drowned out by
people who have not figured out how
to benefit.

--dave
August 28, 2009

Wendy said:

What caused you to become such a negative man?
I am concerned that a seemingly educated person such as yourself Professor Geist, has so little regard for the rights of those creators who write books, music and produce all sorts of other entertainment media which enriches our lives.

Clearly you are gaining attention in all your slandering, but it's not positive attention when you are clearly so biased.

The myth of the record company "fat cat" is just that- a myth. The high flying arrogant book publisher lying in a bed of money? Not true. These people slave over product for hours every day trying to best represent the work of their clients. They do this so that the rest of the world can be touched, affected and consumed by beautiful words, images and music.
I think your sneering comments about the record labels turning up in swarms at last nights Town Hall are completely juvenile. Of course people will turn up when their livelihoods are at steak! If record labels are the one's being accused, then why shouldn't they have the right to speak in mass? You would be saying something else patronizing if none had shown up, so they cannot win it seems.

The self proclaimed "pirate" who made a fool of himself as he's popped off a number of names of Australian and New Zealand made independent films only further convinces me that is where the true "fat cat" resides. I'm sure the film makers who slaved to get funding for these projects in their own country; only to have their product squandered on Canadian free for all sites; would be disgusted to have a man such as this even mentioning their films.

Demonizing the laws that may or may not be put into place does not help the public to have a true reflection on what will happen. At the end of the day Canada is allowing their people to steal by not putting copyright laws in place. What kind of up bringing did you have that tells you that this is ok?

A little more un-biased commentary would be appreciated- then you might gain a little creditability.
August 28, 2009

Griffin Carpenter said:

My frustrations
I do not personally believe that there was a conspiracy to get as many industry reps to the microphone as possible. Plain and simple, the music industry did a great job of mobilizing dozens of artists and executives to register early for the Toronto town hall. I might even go as far as congratulating those in the industry who were able to disseminate information on registering for the town hall so quickly.

That said, it was one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had to sit behind the microphone and watch dozens of speakers hit the same talking points. Artists have a right to be paid. We like artists in Canada. Therefore the government should be doing more to make sure that artists are getting paid.

The problem with these talking points is that they're surface level, they operate on assumptions, and they insinuate certain reforms.

Many copyfighters like artists and like music. Simply stating that (or repeating) the point that the music industry likes music isn't adding anything new to the discussion. Furthermore, it should not be conceded that those in the industry like music more than any other group in the discussion no matter how often that point was repeated. Furthermore, the underlying assumptions of many claims made last night need to be addressed. Those outside the industry such as a recent U of T graduate and a man who was cut off at the end of the night asked openly about where exactly these rights and entitlement that artists have actually emanate from. As for insinuation, Rob Bolton, I think you illustrate this point perfectly. I greatly appreciate your comment in this response chain about developing a new business model for the industry, but if that’s what you meant last night, then you should have said it! Your talking points last night simply gave the impression to Minister Clement that your company is suffering, you feel compensation to artists is required, and the government should be more active in righting these wrongs. Those comments insinuate a much more combative form of government policy regarding file sharing than your comments here.

Instead of the same talking points, a great new point that could have been brought up is feasibility. It would have been wonderful if just one person could have said that Canada is a so-called “lawless society” because P2P technologies are relatively simple and widespread. Any government policy regarding these technologies should recognize this fact. If the industry or the government tries to take a heavy handed approach with respect to file sharing the result will be as conclusive as it is inevitable, the technology will win.

All in all, a very frustrating experience, but wonderful to hear some refreshing perspectives coming in from the web. It does seem like the web offers a better and more equalizing platform in which to conduct open discussion. It’s much harder to jeer online.
August 28, 2009

Chad said:

Re: Wendy
We have a copyright act in place, and the UK along with many other countries still have yet to implement WIPO copyright treaties, including the UK and Sweden.

WIPO is also currently consulting on "balancing" copyright law which is what Giest is currently calling for:

http://unctad.org/Templates/meeting.asp?intItemID=2068&lang=1&m=17516



August 28, 2009

Shannon said:

I'm confused? You're confused.
I'm not quite sure why people are surprised/responding negatively to a large music industry presence at this town hall. Would it not be surprising if they didn't show up? By "stacking the deck" do you mean "getting involved in that which provides ones livelihood."

I work in the entertainment industry. I have personally lost 2 jobs as a direct result of companies downsizing due to the economic impact of piracy. I have countless friends and former colleagues who remain out of work. I know performers who can't get paid for their art. I know writers who have had their pieces copied without credit or compensation.

Artists - and the professionals who promote and distribute their works legally and with permission - deserve to be paid for their efforts.

They deserve the choice to monetize their content, should they choose.

They deserve the same right, as any other Canadian does, to own what is theirs and not be stolen from.

I believe that those who feel differently should be ashamed.
August 28, 2009

Jeff Johnson said:

Dinosaurs
Felt like I was in a room with a bunch of dinosaurs slowly going down in the technological tar-pit, begging for a life ring to be cast from the Government to prop up their outmoded distribution models. I want to compensate an artist directly for their work and not a bunch of fat-cat cronies who pretend to care for the artist when they truly only care of profiting on the backs of said artists so they can distribute their wares by an ancient methodology.

News for you entertainment shills, you've already lost, no amount of Government lobbying and schmoozing will result in a law that saves your jobs. I know plenty of auto workers who are passionate about building cars, but guess what, they lost their jobs and they're not trying to convince the Government to make the buying of a Toyota illegal. Game over for these cartels.
August 28, 2009

Mr Savage said:

I find it kinda funny...
you know, where I come from, a 'town hall meeting' is where you get the community together, organize the issues get everyones opinions and then go from there, not fly in a conglomerate, have them overrun the proceedings, have this 'random draw' thing and/or just listen to executives spout off for a few hours..doesnt sound like a 'town hall meeting' that Ive ever been a part of...and I live in Saskatchewan.
August 28, 2009

Chad said:

Countries that haven't ratified the WIPO Copyright Treaties
United Kingdom, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, Nigeria, Netherlands, Namibia, Monaco, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Israel, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Germany, France, Finland, European Community, Estonia, Denmark, Canada, Austria, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)

Source: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/e...eaty_id=16
August 28, 2009

David Collier-Brown said:

I attended and noted a block of reserved seating
Which arguably was the invitees.

I did notice the number of musicians and
music industry employees was high, many
of whom expressed entirely understandable
concern for their jobs.

I didn't get selected to speak, but if I
had, would have appealed for the people
who have benefited from new media to
speak up and advise Parliament on what
they need, lest they be drowned out by
people who have not figured out how
to benefit.

--dave
August 28, 2009

Chad said:

Re: Shannon
"They deserve the choice to monetize their content, should they choose."

This is really not representing of the question posed to creative talent currently. Those that have chosen to leave the monopoly have monetized their content. Jobs are being lost in areas that are now irrelevant due to the amount of technological innovation. Just as the invention of the auto mobile put black smiths out of work. While jobs are being lost in some areas, other area's are booming. This is called creative destruction.

It's up to each industry to follow the money so to speak, and have a clear understanding of the current economics as it relates to each industry. There are value chains been presented in the media industries, one that includes monetizing the peer to peer networks.

The choice creative talent has is either to follow the marketplace or not. It's not a choice of giving their stuff away free. Those that have left, have chosen to follow the market and the consumer. For industry those that don't follow the path of the consumer will fail, and are failing hard. That's what you have been seeing.

The choice has already been made for creative talent. The market, not law determines the future of creative talent, and it's our job in industry to come up with ways to engage that market, rather than rely on law to force it back to a system that is no longer relevant. Even if we had the most strict copyright laws out of all the nations in the world, it would do very little for creative talent who are with people that refuse to change. Laws like this would be unenforceable, and irrelevant to the current marketplace, which will hurt creative talent in a big way, because they do not reflect the realities of the market.

Creators have to understand that their main source of income is Consumers. Without them, all of you would be painting or stringing instruments on the side walk. It's time all industries start to change and find ways to engage them, rather than forcing the hand that feeds them (not good in any situation).









August 28, 2009

Anthony Marco said:

The Currency of Culture
There was definitely a concerted effort on the part of lobbyists to make sure numbers were in the seats. I almost laughed when they gasped at being called "lobbyists".
I found a condescending tone around the room, especially among music execs, that somehow "music" (and in one case "Canadian culture" itself) was dependant on its monetization. Canadian music, art, and culture in general existed long before someone figured out how to monetize it. Selling Avril Lavigne across the world is NOT spreading Canadian culture!

While I would love an idealized system of free use or Creative Commons approaches to all work, I'm all for a modified system of Fair Use that is actually fair, and motivates a new system of digital monetization that feeds money back to artists instead of corporate machines.

Last night was disappointing. Maybe hold it in Hamilton next time and the execs wouldn't drive down the QEW.
August 28, 2009

Geof said:

...
Woah. This discussion is going in the wrong direction. This is not a debate between artists who want to get paid and freeloaders who want music and movies for free. That conflict is real, but it is not what this law is about.

I will focus on the push to “update” Canada’s copyright laws is WIPO ratification - mainly protection for digital locks. Artists are being told, “if you don’t get this protection, people will steal your livelihood.”

This is not true. If you think that is what this debate is about, please understand what digital locks really are and what they really do.

The U.S. banned circumvention of digital locks in 1998. It did not work. Infringement has increased since then. If you believe you are losing income or your job because of piracy, WIPO ratification will not change that.

Fair copyright activists oppose banning circumvention. We do not oppose it because we want free stuff. Even if we did, we know very well what happened in the States: if we want stuff for free, we know digital locks won’t stop us. (Let me tell you, if that’s what we wanted it would be a whole lot easier to crack the locks than to fight this political battle.)

Digital locks don’t just regulate copying. They can regulate *everything* that a computer does. Stop you from watching foreign DVDs. From unlocking your cell phone. From listening music (that you paid for) on your iPod. From making art. With digital locks, the manufacturer of the technology you own can minutely control what you are allowed to use technology for. They effectively get to write their own law.

Of course the locks don’t work. Anyone can break them: so long as they aren’t doing anything public, anything artistic, anything important - anything legitimate. The freeloaders do what they like. It’s the rest of us who suffer.

You may be told that these are fairy tales, scare stories - things that will not really happen. But they do happen. I have been watching this in the U.S. for ten years, and they happen all the time.

There is a conflict over ensuring that artists get paid. There have been real dislocations and real losses of income. (How much, and what gains in other areas is not relevant to my argument here.) But that is not what fair copyright proponents are arguing about.

If you get anti-circumvention law passed, you will find two things. ONE: it will not put a dent in infringement. TWO: respect for copyright law will plummet - it will likely become *less* effective, as people decide the law is corrupt and do whatever they can get away with (which is just about anything). If you’re really paying attention, you will also find THREE: those locks are turned against artists in order to control distribution channels and limit their ability to create without permission from entertainment giants.

For a detailed explanation of digital locks, see faircopy.ca/anticircumvention
August 28, 2009

James Ashton said:

@ Wendy
"What caused you to become such a negative man?"

You call Prof. Geist negative then make half a dozen pejorative remarks about him in your comment? Who's being the negative one here?

"...creators who write books, music and produce all sorts of other entertainment media which enriches our lives...The myth of the record company "fat cat" is just that- a myth. The high flying arrogant book publisher lying in a bed of money? Not true. These people slave over product for hours every day trying to best represent the work of their clients. They do this so that the rest of the world can be touched, affected and consumed by beautiful words, images and music."

You see everyone, multinational entertainment corporations and industry cartels are happy, fuzzy little creatures that just want to touch the world with their beautiful works. They would never do things like knowingly hide malware/rootkits in their products for copy protection, or threaten to sue anyone who provides a workaround to prevent said rootkit infection (like holding the shift key down!), or "make examples" of individual students and grandparents with exorbitant lawsuits, or threaten to sue half of the Internet for publishing the AACS key, or file DMCA takedowns on family movies on YouTube because a copyrighted song is playing on the TV in the background, or mass mail lawsuit extortion letters to students with no evidence behind the claims, or aggressively lobby governments to pass draconian copyright laws and openly state the intention to do so.

Contrary to what you naively state, these entertainment companies aren’t here to benevolently “enrich our lives”. Corporations are in business to make money, period. They will lobby to get laws skewed in their favour and damn everyone else. Remember the last time the entertainment industry was the only group consulted for copyright law reform? The resulting Bill C-61 was terribly imbalanced against both consumers, teachers, ISPs, librarians, artists, technology innovators, and basically anyone not invited to the closed door meetings. So forgive us if we say these new consultations seemed slanted; something about history repeating itself.

"I think your sneering comments about the record labels turning up in swarms at last nights Town Hall are completely juvenile."

Of course, record label representatives scoffing and laughing at those proposing balanced copyright reform during the meeting is completely mature.

"...I'm sure the film makers who slaved to get funding for these projects in their own country; only to have their product squandered on Canadian free for all sites;"

Please name examples of "Canadian free for all sites", which I guess means sites that illegally distribute copyrighted material. I'm guessing you probably can't name a single Canadian site that matches this description. The argument that Canada is somehow an international piracy haven has been thoroughly debunked repeatedly. Repeating this lie isn't going to make it true.

"Demonizing the laws that may or may not be put into place does not help the public to have a true reflection on what will happen. At the end of the day Canada is allowing their people to steal by not putting copyright laws in place. What kind of up bringing did you have that tells you that this is ok?"

As was stated before Canada already has copyright laws. While they are outdated they still exist. Please give examples of the kinds of "stealing" occurring that the existing laws allow for and don't compensate.

"A little more un-biased commentary would be appreciated- then you might gain a little creditability."

Maybe if Prof. Geist had gotten his commentary from the Conference Board of Canada it would have met your standards of "creditability".
August 28, 2009

640k said:

clips from the townhall
For anyone who doesn't want to download the whole wmv, I'm collecting clips of the event in a youtube playlist. It's at: http://www.youtube.com/view_pl...8023F835E2
August 28, 2009

Rob Bolton said:

...
@Sal74845
Fair point. But last night was about citizens, and I was attending as just that - a concerned citizen. I just happen to work in the music industry (and only for a brief time at a label I might add - mostly I've been involved in new media/technology/etc)

@Griffin Carpenter
"I greatly appreciate your comment in this response chain about developing a new business model for the industry, but if that’s what you meant last night, then you should have said it!"
Would have loved to, but at the end of the day it was a forum about copyright, not new business models for the music industry - plenty of other conferences/etc about that. And more to come I'm sure! Plus there wasn't a lot of time ;)

And for the record, when I said "lawless society", I wasn't trying to attach that label to Canada personally - I was referring to it as the perception other territories have of Canada's marketplace, which sadly, in many cases is true. Sorry if that got lost somehow.
August 28, 2009

Brian Decoup said:

...
"How much, and what gains in other areas is not relevant to my argument here."

I completely disagree with this. It's at the core of the argument, and yours as well. The laws must fit with where the market is placed otherwise they will be irrelevant. As you stated with DRM, the market rejected it. How are laws around DRM going to be enforced? They can't be, it's not relevant to the discussion. DRM is a political issue, not a practical one.

The economic of this situation need to be fully understood by both sides, in order to come up with a balanced approach. So far neither side has put forth an understanding, and those of us in the middle sitting as independent academics in this debate see the real economic issues not really being debated here. It's not to say that either side is right or wrong, but the middle ground that is presented in a lot of independent research which is to the benefit of creative talent is not being actively discussed.

That's extremely depressing for those in the creative industries, and for those that want to move this debate forward. A balanced approach can only be met in the middle ground, and we have too many people on all sides acting like 4 year old kids, rather than rationally thinking about solutions that benfit both sides.

August 28, 2009

Geof said:

Careful. Emotion wins debates.
Copyfighters: I am concerned about the tone of some of these remarks. Someone on Twitter said that the industry reps last night all used emotional arguments, while the copyfighters gave specific detailed analysis. There is a reason for that. Emotional arguments win. Have you seen a car commercial lately?

We can put forth the best, most logical arguments in the world, provide the most solid evidence, demonstrate our overwhelming numbers - but in the end, people are convinced by emotion. If you are posting here, then I suspect you - like me - feel very strongly about this. Every time I want to demonstrate how strongly I feel, I remind myself: I want to *win*.

Listen to what the artists posting here are saying. They are saying "we are losing our jobs, we are losing our livelihoods - and you are making excuses for not paying us for our work!?" This is not what we are saying, but it is what they hear.

When we say the big entertainment companies are dinosaurs, it might or might not be a fair comparison - but many artists hear something quite different. They hear "YOU are a dinosaur." Instead of listening to our logic, they hear our anger. Instead of understanding how these proposals can be used by big media to gain leverage over them, they identify *with* these companies.

We must critique false claims. We must be clear, we must be reasonable, we must be precise. But we must not let it get out of hand. We must not let our emotions cloud our purpose. When someone posts here, there may be no hope of convincing them. But behind that person are many more who read the discussion. When they see someone express their own feelings - and then see it dismissed out of hand, they take sides. I bet many artists come here to be confirmed in their views. Don’t let that be easy.

Many artists are already our allies. More should be. Many come here primed with emotion. We need to respect their concerns, even - especially! - when we think they are wrong. Only when emotion is cleared away is their room for reason.
August 28, 2009

Geof said:

Economics
@Brian Decoup: I said economics are not relevant to my argument about DRM. They aren’t. Even your summary agrees. If a measure is intended to have an economic effect, and it does not do so, then the existing economic realities are not relevant.

As I said, there are real economic issues. The proposals we see promulgated by big entertainment are all for increasing the scope of copyright. I am not aware of any evidence that this has worked anywhere. You talk about a middle ground: if you know of such evidence, I would like to see it. The economic evidence I have seen (e.g. Heller, Lemley, Boldrin & Levine) points to this being economically counterproductive. Though the fact of the matter is we have precious little good empirical evidence about copyright’s efficacy - which is pretty extraordinary considering the radical changes implemented in many places around the world.

In assessing economic impact, it is not nearly sufficient to sum up the balance sheet of the creative industries. Creative works are an output, but they are also an input, a factor of production - not only to creative industries, but also to many other industries as well. Increasing their price can increase revenue for one sector of the economy, while reducing it for others. Furthermore, the impacts of many of these proposals reach far beyond what we think of as “creative industries.” As my explanation of DRM outlines, anticircumvention law could impact the competitiveness of the market for mobile phones. Furthermore, we can’t only look at money. Much economic activity takes place outside the market, and that is particularly true of culture. The activity of nonprofessionals is incredibly productive - just look at the quality of specialized amateur blogs, for example.

Regardless, an economic argument does not suffice. (Even if you take the position that a free market produces near-ideal outcomes, we are discussing how that market should be structured - so we cannot depend on market signals to tell us what people value.) Everyone agrees that culture is a social good - that creativity should be encouraged. But what is it about culture that we value? We need to know in order to be effective at promoting desirable outcomes.

Culture historically is not primarily physical artifacts like books or CDs. It is social activity: dancing, sports, music - which until the 20th century was usually something we had to make ourselves - and so on. I believe the value of culture resides in that social dimension, in the connections forged between people and within communities. This kind of involvement is the basis of much human happiness, and also of democratic politics. New technology has a tremendous potential to promote participation and involvement by everyone - and is doing so. To me, the great danger of bad law is that it will limit that social participation: that the Internet will be turned into cable TV, and the social disengagement we saw in the latter half of the 20th century will repeat.
August 28, 2009

Jay said:

...
I really don't understand why everyone on this board is outraged at the debate that took place at the town hall. If more copyright abolitionists/minimalists wanted to have their voices heard, they could have come to the event. There were plenty of empty seats. Instead, all you got was a self professed pirate taunting copyright owners and another ranter appropriating a speaking slot without having been selected in the lottery, refusing to identify himself, harranging the audience and minister incoherently, and refusing to yield the microphone to allow the minister to speak. It's not surprising when you hold an event like this that the majority of attendees will be people who are truly vested in the implications of copyright - artists, lawyers, software developers, writers, librarians and many others who work in the music, movie and publishing industries.

What I find interesting about all the "copyfighters" is that they claim to be passionate about copyright issues, but all they seem to do is copy/paste other people's arguments (such as the ones on this blog). That's why, when it came to the town hall and people had to actually express their ideas, what did we get?
-A guy who couldn't stop talking about how much he loves to download works for free
-A guy who charged the mic only to yell at the crowd
-A university student who could barely string a sentence together
-Someone who dedicated his comments to attacking the private copying levy without knowing he had been paying it for years
-Someone who thought that Bill C-61 had been passed into law and had been bad for Canada
-Someone who called for taxes to be passed on bandwidth on every imaginable media including all computer hard drives

This is why the town hall format is so essential: so that the decision makers on this file can truly hear from people actually affected by copyright reform and realize that the majority of these "copyfighters" do not represent the views of Canadians and are little more than a group of uninformed kids who took time out of copying other people's works to copy other people's arguments and submit them as their own.
August 28, 2009

Classact said:

Re: Mr. Bolton's post
Great to see Mr. Bolton exercising his right to deal fairly with the works and words of others in the creation of his post above. Or, maybe when he used those quotes he asked for permission from the copyright owner or purchased the rights from Access Copyright? Could it be that those quotes were so trivial that they did not attract copyright protection?!?

Fair dealing is not a free for fall. People who deal fairly with materials are not pirates. Mr. Bolton is not a stealer because he quoted the words of others (without citations mind you; which for research or private study would be fine...), but some rights-holders want to be compensated for EVERY use of their material. In fact, a lot of the submissions on the consultation website are from individuals demanding to get paid for every use of their work. They almost seem to fear fair dealing. They are under the impression (from their collectives I imagine) that the user community will completely disregard their right to compensation. This is false. Fair dealing means you use only as much of the material as you need to support your legitimate purpose. That said, currently fair dealing does not recognize all legitimate uses, but only a few select purposes. Strange. Sometimes it is only necessary to quote a few words or lines, perhaps add some commentary, as did Mr. Bolton. In other cases this may mean and entire work is copied, as would be the case of an individual providing a critical analysis of a photograph.

In my opinion (and others will differ of course), rights holders who want to narrow fair dealing or limit access to copyrighted materials (via contracts or using DRM) are just as misguided as the person who pirates without regard for the rights of owners.
August 28, 2009

Rob Bolton said:

@Classact
To my knowledge the music industry isn't against the concept of fair dealing. I'm not. It's certainly one of the areas that needs addressing, i.e. academic use, etc. The funny thing is, if we all sat around chatting about all the various issues, we'd probably agree on quite a lot!
August 28, 2009

Griffin Carpenter said:

@Rob Bolton
You may be right. Too bad we didn't get that chance last night. Instead we had people like Jay (see a couple posts back) belittling any detractors when they got the mic. Truly a disappointing display of etiquette.
August 28, 2009

Brian Decoup said:

...
@Geof

There is a lot of "could" in this debate. What we've seen in the market is an attempt to bring DRM in to certain markets, however that was unsuccessful, and just served to drive people away from that market. Yes you're right in a sense that it "could" serve anti-competitive behavior, just as the same argument made on the other side that it "could protect creators". That's not relevant to the current direction the market has taken on this issue of DRM, and I'm sure I don't have to quote any research on that to you. This is not about ideology, or what has or hasn't been proven to work (since there is no evidence either way). It's about the direction of the marketplace, and newly born innovation. How do we tie both of these issues together, you do what's known as "Market Research" and come up with practical solutions to the problems in each industry. Laws have a very small part to play. They are meant as guidelines to keep the marketplace in check, but if those laws are not relevant to what's taking place in the marketplace, well then you have the stock market crash a year ago, and a bunch of pissed off guitar players that haven't been paid in a decade. It's not about right or wrong, who's a pirate or who's not it's about following the market, and developing laws relevant to this market. The only law that should be implemented around DRM is to ensure we have a big blue DRM sticker pasted on product so that the consumer has the "choice" to engage in the purchase of that product or not.

A lot of this debate is based on ideology rather than practicality. There is a lot of resources in Professor Geists' blog posts over the past several years that has quoted a large amount of research that has been done on the market by academics, and by government. If you are fighting for Fair Copyright I have every confidence you have at least read one of those reports.

Each Industry is affected differently, and each must re-evaluate the situation and understand the market prior to engaging in a debate on copyright reform. Geist has taken his position as a U of O professor and what's needed in that area with respect to protecting those interests. His position is bias, but honorable on principle. You can't achieve a fair balance with bias in either direction or by advocating a position. You have to be basically not representing anyone and looking at the market objectively to see the solutions that are presenting themselves.

For example, and I’m not advocating here but, artists main concern is to get paid for the work they have done. The market's concerns is that want to get their media from a wide area of places online, and do want to pay for it. A balanced solution to this is to monetize the networks somehow, and legalize file sharing which Geist has no position on nor is Fair Copyright calling for this approach. There's a lot of conversation around certain people on both sides "choosing" not to go that route and are fighting it. The choice has already been made by the market and the consumer. It's not up to industry or government to control that choice, or even present a choice to industry with respect to this. The choice for creators is "Do you want to get paid, or do you want to eat kraft dinner", because there's little law can do to protect the analog "rights of creators" in an environment that has made analog obsolete. The only thing that can be set up is laws that are unenforceable, create deterrence that are proven not to work, and further plunge our creative communities and our economy into further chaos.
August 28, 2009

Brian Decoup said:

...
@Geof, there was a presentation at the Gatineau round table, that I think was quoted in here a while back somewhere. Listen to the presentation around the 65:00 mark.
August 28, 2009

Tariq Muinuddin said:

@Jay
I was the guy who was attacking the private copying levy, and you know what I haven't been paying it for years. People may assert otherwise but a simple look at the facts easily shows them to be misinformed:

The levy has been $0.21 per CD since 2001. For a spindle of 50 CDs that would come out to $10.50. When I go to my local computer store to buy my spindle the total I pay (before sales tax) is less than this. So I'll repeat, I do not pay the levy.

Sadly there was no forum at the town hall to address this misinformation besides me going up to the guy who claimed I was paying the levy and giving him some basic math (which I did).
August 28, 2009

Bob Morris said:

...
re ClassAct: "Fair dealing means you use only as much of the material as you need to support your legitimate purpose." No it does not!!! And this is the root of the problem. Fair dealing has to be fair, and that may be far short of what you rhink you "need". Comments like that are why creators are so concerned about any changes to copyright law and why they are supporting DRM.
August 28, 2009

Brian Decoup said:

...
@Bob Morris

"Comments like that are why creators are so concerned about any changes to copyright law and why they are supporting DRM."

I'm not trying to start an argument here, just curious to understand the logic behind the support for DRM. I know many in the creative sector consider any law on this as a deterrence, but in a court of law, how can the creative community prove a DRM lock has been broken, by an individual? How does the creative community think this can be enforced?
August 28, 2009

DMc said:

...
Tariq there was plenty of misinformation to go around. And you evading the levy buying grey market Chinese CDs proves bupkiss. People sell knockoff Nikes too. It doesn't kill the sneaker market. If you want to take pride in evading the mechanism that attempts to make up lost income for artists, good for you. It puts you arm in arm with the guy w the 6 terrabyte pirate server.
August 28, 2009

Ian Runkle said:

The Toronto Townhall Pirate
I spoke with the guy who gave the pirate speech after the Townhall (largely to ask what he was thinking). He claimed not to be affiliated with Fair Copyright in any way--someone had given him the shirt, and he thought it was something vaguely cool to wear to the consultation. I don't think he's an industry plant, as some have suggested--but just not particularly clever about effective discourse. It is still a shame that those at the townhall who seemed to have prepared statements against copyright weren't chosen, and that those that were chosen were mostly either industry representatives, or else unprepared or unhinged.
August 28, 2009

Ian Runkle said:

Re: Professed Pirate
The professed pirate at the Toronto Townhall was not a member of Fair Copyright (I spoke with him after the townhall). Someone just gave him the shirt, and he thought it'd be a good thing to wear.
August 28, 2009

DMc said:

It's all in the framing.
"those who prepared statements against copyright weren't chosen."

This is where rhetoric leaves the planet. You say that it's "unfortunate" that the people who were chosen to speak against copyright were weak...

I submit to you that the words you choose -- I'm sorry, that's my business -- are more revealing than you think. To speak "against copyright" is to, on a fundamental level, swim with the nutters like Mr. 6 terrabyte, and the ranting gentleman at the end that -- incredibly -- I've seen actual journalists try to defend in print like he's Patrick Henry.

There are lots of code words that get thrown around on any side of a debate, and last night, in a lot of the "fair copyright" crowd I peruse, the weasel words are some derivation of "respect for artists." You may feel because of politics or convenience, or naivete or sheer ignorance, that intellectual property is something that shouldn't be protected. And that's fine. But for the people who look to this as their livelihood, your sneering, unthinking, "oh, yes, of course artists should be paid" without any concrete models, or cockamamie pie in the sky utopian B.S. might seem like the height of cool wonder. But it's not.

See, every one of those artists you dismiss as being in it for themselves, or part of "guilds" or "the industry" are also consumers. They all face the same dilemmas and choices you do -- whether it's using material for research, dealing with digital locks, trying to negotiate the waters of parody or fair comment -- believe me, as a writer of TV in this country, I've banged my head against the wall with the restrictions on satire and parody more than most. But it's cheap and easy to reduce it to weasel words, and engage in ridiculous conspiracy theory. The Pirate was an industry plant? Give me a break. There was a nefarious plan afoot to shut out consumer voices? Give me a break.

The sad and simple truth? HIstory and policy is made by people who show up. You didn't show up. It's not surprising. I showed up -- and my registration when it was announced was no weird dealmaking thing. I knew it was coming up, I registered, and I went. As did, apparently, just about every record company employee left in Toronto. They organized. They got in there and confirmed. You didn't.

To then turn around and say that the reason that there weren't more consumers called, or consumers in the hall, is because of "the big fix" isn't only convenient -- because it lets you off the hook -- it's pathetic. You want to be taken seriously, but you default to the worst kind of tinfoil hat paranoia on a dime. I suppose the reason that talk radio is so stupid is because of the genetically engineered plants that "the man" makes sure calls in and discredits the true, reasonable citizens.

Poppycock. They're just the people who jump when they say call. And the regular consumers who showed up involved a high concentration of those same people. They were on top of it. You weren't. So like the music company reps, they were over represented. That's the reality.

It's unbelievable to me that you've got people here who will rail against Geist, who -- though I don't always agree with him -- is never anything other than clear about his perspective, where he's coming from, and why.

It's great to whine from the sidelines and get yourself off the hook by virtual high-fives and convenient conspiracy-theory excuses. But the fact of the matter is that the people who really cared -- who put their time, and their efforts on the line -- were in that room.

If you weren't, and you're armchair quarterbacking now, well, take some responsibility. It's amazing that you can blithely talk rhetoric that might destroy the livelihoods of content creators but you hide behind the skirts of, "the man fixed the game, man..." The internet is the world's largest echo chamber -- and you guys clearly need to step into the light a bit and interact with others instead of congratulating each other for how smart you are and how dumb and backward everyone else is.

I struggled desperately over the last weeks, trying to figure out a position that could balance what I believe about creators rights, with what my Guild was advising, and what I felt in my heart, as a consumer, was right. It was a hard road to come to an opinion about a bunch of imperfect solutions. So the glibness with which some of you dismiss all that is odious.

If you were a consumer in that audience who had something to say about fair dealing, or copyright extension, or parody, or digital locks, or collective licensing or creative commons and even open copyright -- I'm truly sorry you didn't get a chance to speak. But for the smug tinfoil hatters taunting Geist here, or dismissing the people from small organizations like The Writers Guild of Canada, or the Writers Union or even SOCAN as "lobbyists," Lay off the conspiracy theories. How about concentrating on showing up?
August 29, 2009

Jason K said:

...
Sent Wednesday August 26th, 2009 as an Official Government of Canada Communication. Point #4 seemed quite odd to me considering this event was sold out:


Thank you for signing up for the Toronto Copyright Town Hall! We are in the final stages of preparation and are looking forward to a successful event.

The Toronto Town Hall is expected to be our largest copyright consultation event, with participation not only from those in the room, but also from Canadians sending in online comments and views. We wanted to provide you with some information in advance so that registered participants can start thinking about their contribution to this important dialogue.

1.The host for the evening will be the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. He will be onstage all night and will offer brief closing remarks once you, the participants, have had your say.

2.The evening will be moderated by a third-party facilitator to help ensure we hear from as many people as possible in our limited time together. Her job will be to coordinate the online and in-person discussions and keep everything running on time.

3.Due to the large number of registered participants, those wishing to speak at the Town Hall will be selected by lottery.

4.In addition to those who registered for the Town Hall through the website, we have invited some individuals and organizations who specialize in copyright issues or can speak on behalf of a large number of Canadians for whom copyright is a significant issue. So that everyone can benefit from a breadth of perspectives, we will also be calling on some of them — again, selected by lottery - to present their points of view.

5.Online participants will be able to submit comments throughout the evening. Comments will be chosen at random and read onstage at regular intervals by a designated official.

The Town Hall will get underway promptly at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 27, 2009. If you have general inquiries about the copyright consultations, please contact info@copyrightconsultation.gc.ca.

August 29, 2009

Griffin Carpenter said:

@DMc
I don't think you can dismiss those holding alternative perspectives as nonparticipatory. For one, the town hall was booked solid so it wasn't simply a matter of "showing up". We truly have no idea what the audience composition would have been if the consultation was held in a stadium of unlimited capacity. I've already noted in a previous comment that clearly those in the music industry were very well networked, but I don't think it follows to chastise alternative perspectives for not attending the event. Simply put, they could not. What we do know however is that the online consultation has taking in comments of an unlimited capacity (assumingly) and a great number of those comments (I would suggest the majority) were from alternative perspectives. If the access was there, alternative perspectives were using it.
August 29, 2009

Ian Runkle said:

...
DMc: If you want to nitpick my words, great. Unfortunate: Against fortune, unlucky. Also, bad. Yes, I'm exactly fine with that connotation.

As for copyright: Clearly the notion of copyright needs to be re-examined. Copyright is, at the most fundamental level, a bargain the public makes with prospective makers of content in order to encourage the production of it. It worked pretty well, but now it faces a disruptive technology. The internet destroys the assumptions on which copyright is based. Artists will need new business models. If we are going to continue with the notion of an entitlement for artists, it needs to be built from the ground up, taking the fact of this new disruptive technology into account. Trying to keep doing things the old way is a little like trying to figure out how to save the wagon industry now that cars exist, and continuing to build roads to handle wagons. Before the internet, copyright functioned by giving artists a monopoly on scarce goods--copies of the work. Now, a copy of a work is not a scarce good. People make copies without even realizing it. When you play a music CD in a computer, the contents of that CD are copied into RAM so that it may be played. When you stream a TV show from a legal provider, a copy is still (briefly) made on your computer. If you wish to intentionally make copies, it requires no effort.

The levy isn't a bad idea. It's a means to ensure artists get paid without essentially trying to deny the fundamental change that has overtaken the industry. Still, trying to tax all storage media becomes a bit silly as the forms of media expand. A simple straight tax would probably be a better idea. But, I am in fact all for free markets. I don't believe in any right to get paid. I believe that your right to get paid depends on your ability to bring in money in a free market. A system of government-issued monopolies is not a free market.

In the modern world, writing a book is a little like shovelling your neighbour's driveway. You have done him a good deed, but there is no reason to be able to demand money from him, unless he has asked you to do this. You can ask him for compensation, but he should be free to refuse. In actual fact, this is how the market is currently working now. Anyone who purchases a track on iTunes has /chosen/ to do so, rather than getting it for free. Every dollar sent to the content industries for the content is already effectively a voluntary payment. You underestimate the degree to which people want to pay you. Crying about your right to get paid is a little like crying about your right to free candy. No such right exists. You only deserve to get paid if you are doing something that enables you to get paid. If I shovel my neighbour's driveway, I may have done work, and I may have benefitted him, but unless he asked me to do so, I can't demand payment even if he walks on that driveway. I don't deserve anything.

Content can also be used as effective advertisement to allow you to sell scarce goods--concert tickets, T-shirts, the keyboard you used to hammer out the first draft, and so forth.

Artists managed to get paid before copyright. I'm sure you'll manage it afterwards. I am becoming convinced, however, that the copyright model no longer works for either artists or consumers, and thus needs to be replaced by something else entirely.

Take the example of a board game. The actual mechanics of this game are not protected--you can freely copy how a game works, and make your own. You can even sell it. (The name of the game and the images involved are protected by trademark and copyright respectively). And yet, they still manage to make money. There is a board game industry. I don't think that the music industries, video game industries, TV industries, and so forth are any dumber than the board game industry. I just think that they've had a taste of monopoly, and want more... and want the good old days when the earlier technological limits made an absolute iron-fisted monopoly possible.
August 29, 2009

DMc said:

The Flaw in Your Analogy
You've got a first two paragraphs there where you don't say a single thing that I can really disagree with, and then you go into cloudcuckooland. I'm not demanding an entrenched right to be paid. It frustrates the hell out of me when I see project after project that has no audience get Telefilm money get government funding.

But it's interesting that you choose to use the Candy analogy, where the artist is, I suppose, the spoiled child in this construction. Because when you strip away the rhetoric, it's not a bad analogy. Only the spoiled child in the analogy isn't the artist. It's you.

You (the collective you) know that a book, or a music track, or a TV program has a value attached to it. You could pay that freight, or not. But now there's a little helper that has found a way to let you in the back door of the candy store to take the candy for free. And when the owner of the Candy store says, "hey, you shouldn't take that candy, you haven't paid for it," you stamp your feet and complain loudly that you want it, and you can get it, so you should have it.

Well, when a kid does that we call it a tantrum and we give them a time out. Far from this being a case of artists creating works and then demanding payment even if they're not wanted, it's a case of things clearly having a value -- because people download them and download them -- but choosing not to pay that value because of a quirk of the technology.

Far from me shoveling your driveway and then demanding payment for something you never asked me to do, you're using my water to water your lawn, and then getting perplexed and bent out of shape by me having the nerve to call you on it, and asking you to pay the bill.

Levies are definitely an imperfect system. But it's way better than DRM and suing people. If we get beyond this argument, and find a way to legitimize the peer to peer model, then maybe the monetization possibilities of that technology can finally open new ways of distributing products, and new markets, new audiences. And maybe we can focus more on some of the real consumer-side issues surrounding copyright: like fair dealing, protection for parody and satire, copyright terms and the public domain, crown copyright and the like.

There are certain things that are not necessarily completely equitable that we do because it's for the public good, and because it contributes to the kind of societies you want to have. If you read your Creative Class theory, if you want livable cities with innovation and ideas and vibrancy, you support the arts, because that attracts the people who innovate.

I am single, and I don't have kids. And the last couple of years from my writing, I've been fortunate enough to pay a whole whack of taxes that have gone to subsidized daycare, playground construction and upkeep, schools, the child credit, school immunization, health, ESL programs, after school programs, and any one of a thousand other things that I do not benefit from in any way, shape or form. Well, it's wonderful if you want to have kids. But you shouldn't demand that anybody pay for them, right?

But we do. Because that's the bargain we make to have the society we want and cherish. And I recognize that. I'm proud to pay taxes that go to making children smarter, healthier, and happier, because it benefits my society as a whole.

So, you know, just as you don't seem to have much sympathy for artists who look at their entire livelihood crumbling, I don't have a lot of sympathy toward someone who bitches at paying 50 bucks more for a 6TB hard drive. These both fit very nicely into the category of "first world problems."

Every time I come across somebody who says something to the effect of, "script fees for TV are outrageous," I say the same thing. "you're not paying me for this script. you're paying the amortized cost for the twenty years of labor that went into me learning my craft and getting to the point where I"m good enough to write this script."

The infrastructure around record labels, or production companies, or the CBC, or any of that -- different issue. But when it comes to the free candy issue, it's nice to paint us as the ones stamping our feet, but with the levy -- we're suggesting a way that we can get paid, and recognize the reality of peer to peer and the ease of trading digital bits. You have an alternate solution? Float it. But don't presume to lecture me on how I'm going to manage post-copyright.
August 29, 2009

Darryl Moore said:

DMc Candy Analogy
DMc, your modified candy store analogy might also work too, but not quite. You are right about the kid coming in the back door to take all the candy for free. That is what happens now with P2P file sharing. The part you are missing is the sign that the owner has at the front of the store which says what that anyone buying the candy never actually gets to own it (EULA and the like) and that if you want it you have to pay for it now, tomorrow, next week, and forever. Who can respect that?

The problem with current copyright and future proposed changes by industry isn't that it gives copyright owners rights over the dissemination and use of their work. Few here would argue against that. The problem is that it takes away my right to use my hardware the way I want (DRM); that the monopoly granted through copyright is too long (50 years after death here, 70 in the US, 90!!! in Mexico); that political and social cometary are stifled (witness 1000's of DRM takedowns on Youtube)

Stop demanding total control of culture and my private property and reduce the term of copyright to something fair for society and you might find more people here supporting you.
August 29, 2009

DMc said:

Where the Rhetoric meets the Road
Besides some differences on the amount and extent of the "fair dealing" exemptions, (though not for parody and satire -- which I feel should be widely interpreted and allowed) I don't believe any of the things that you list above. In fact, I speak up in favor of all of them on my blog, in my remarks on Thursday, and every time the subject comes up in casual conversation.

You want to frame artists' objections as simplistic, go ahead. But you should arm yourself with the facts. The Writers Guild of Canada, for instance, has a position that embraces most of what you object to above. And personally, I go even a little further than that. We are not all the record industry. Calling yourself a "copyfighter" isn't enough if you're going to argue against what you think people are saying, rather than what they're actually saying.
August 29, 2009

Jason K said:

...
@DMC Watch the first 3 parts to the following video. It's a possible value chain for TV using bittorrent, with cost analysis. Can you explain to the rest of us why we haven't seen this yet?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxCoCTc3T5Q
August 29, 2009

DMc said:

Sure, I'll take a shot.
@Jason K
I don't know what your economic circumstances are, but let me put you in a category, Jason. It doesn't matter if this is actually your category or not. I'm going to say that you're a guy who wants to buy a condo next year. Your condo is going to cost you $400 000. Which in Downtown Toronto might get you a nice condo, but not a princely one. Anyway, the problem right now is that you don't have the money to buy that condo. But you're going to make it, say in the next five years.

Now all you have to do is to go out and get someone to lend you the 400 000 with no collateral because you're going to make that money in the next five years -- you say. Have fun! Let me know when you move!

The nice thing about theoretics is that you don't have to translate them down to messy realities. Sure, I suppose we artists could just go into stasis for the next five years or so and wait for this model to emerge. It's coming, right? I hope that all our mortgage payments, responsibilities, kids and landlords and student loan holders will understand and give us a pass while all this works itself out.

All business operates on something called cashflow. In the case of TV production, for instance, there is a HUGE outlay upfront. That guy talks about 50 to 80 K an episode and advertising costs and such, but doesn't deal with the fact that first, somebody needs to pay to make the thing. And for a TV series, let's use one of the examples he uses, Desperate Housewives, that's 3 million an ep. They do 22 eps a year. That's close to 70 million dollars. Plus costs to advertise so that people know it's out there. Right now, that money gets raised in the USA by networks putting up a license fee that might amount to, oh, I don't know, say 40 percent of the cost of the show. The studio puts up the rest. How? Their money, or bank loans that guarantee the money until such time as the project is made and starts generating revenue. Or maybe the studio will presell some amount of the DVD rights, or the foreign territory sales. Point is, it's a few years at least til that money starts flowing back. Now, what happens in those few years? Who has enough money to wait out those timelines?

In Canada it's slightly different, as there's agencies like the Canadian Television Fund that make up part of that cost -- and there's tax credits, which governments extend because it encourages labor spends in their provinces, with all the various ancillary benefits to local economies. But you don't get your tax credits till the very end of the process. So again, a bank guarantees a loan.

Now. How does adveristing work? Well, I plan out my year, and I have a budget, and I know what products I'm going to launch and where I'm going to spend my money in each quarter.

Do you see the problem here? One business operates on years, the other about a year ahead. Now, this advertising money, are you going to get the people to commit to advertising four or five years out so that you can get money to make the show? Good luck with that. You'd probably have better luck getting into your condo.

It never ceases to amaze me that people can blithely talk about "your economic model is crumbling, blah blah" and parrot rhetoric without the slightest grounding in economic theory. Why hasn't it happened yet? Because like jetpacks and condos on the moon and VR sex robots, Bittorrent distribution on a large scale, replacing the way that high value shows like Battlestar Galactica and Desperate Housewives get financed, is way, way, way, way, way far off from being viable. Maybe one day it will work. But until then, the people who lend tens of millions of dollars are not going to loosen their purse strings.

Another point:

what were you doing in 1993? Cause I can tell you exactly where I was. I was working on a show called "Media Television" at CityTv. And you know what I was doing? Interviewing all sorts of people talking to me about how the internet was going to make monetizable business models EXPLODE! It was going to completely revolutionize entertainment and people were going to get rich from the brave new order! Well, it's now sixteen years later. SIXTEEN. We're still waiting. That presentation could have been given in 1993, and the programs would have been different, but the rhetoric would be the same. I've been hearing this for a long, long, long time my friend. Rhetoric is not a business model. When the model is viable, all sorts of things are going to change. Until then, well, how about you go out in your life and try to get the things you want -- a home, a dog, a wife, a ficus, a car -- by explaining to everybody that the money's going to be there in sixteen years.

And Jason, I really, really mean this -- Good Luck with that.
August 29, 2009

Darryl Moore said:

...
So, DMc what you are saying then, is that we need permanent regressive changes in copyright law because a relative few people will find it difficult or impossible to make this transition?

You know my grandfather use to make a living making and selling lead acid batteries for farmers to run their vacuum tube radios during the great depression before the electricity grid was as wide spread is it is now. Damn, where were people like you back then? I could be running the family business now if you were around then.
August 29, 2009

Jason K said:

...
@DMc - You realize that this model is going to be put into practice in the traditional media in the very near future right? In many cases has already been applied to traditional media, and is a viable solution. I would figure as someone in the TV Industry that you would be up to speed on the death of the 30 second commercial, and the fact industry has already decided to move forward with this, due to the advent of PVR's and other digital media, where the consumer can skip through the ads. The ads will be embedded (already are in some cases) and this video is close to 5 years old! This ad market has already matured.

You can raise the money through advertisers during pre-production stages. Advertising revenues is what the TV industry is supported by. Nothing will change on this, other than a large audience for the production and views per ads, which can turn into value chains for the producers. The money will just be shifted more towards the advertisers.

This is one area that's already changing, and it floors me that someone in the TV Industry is not up to speed on those changes, and continuously arguing points against change that this industry has already decided to do in many respects with respect to Traditional media. The question is not where I was back in 1993, it's where are you in 2009? You are arguing something that has already been decided by your industry.
August 29, 2009

DMc said:

Now you're just being an idiot.
I suppose you can't take a drink because that's illegal too, right? And I certainly hope you pay that guy to run in front of the automobile announcing that you're coming down the road. And gosh, I hope you're not a slave, or one of those horrible suffragettes expecting the right to vote.

Laws change with the time. No law is "permanent." And even precedent is overturned in the face of change made manifest.

The large problem with a lot of you wonderful net-fueled copyfighters is you need to actually get out in the world and live a bit of a life, walk in other people's shoes a bit, and see things from the other side. It must be wonderful to be able to smugly toss out warmed over rhetoric that isn't really new, and pooh-pooh the experiences of people who struggle every day to find a middle road, and a workable solution in the face of great technological change.

Part of my job is examining the way other people live, what drives them, why they feel what they feel, how they survive, and what's important to them. That means trying to understand perspectives and experiences that differ from my own.

So when that comes to an issue like this, rather than have a nice, clean, knee jerk sensibility I have to messily wade through wearing my many hats. I have to think about what would be best for me as a consumer, as someone who's politically involved and trying to participate in my democracy. What would be best for me as a creator, someone who's trying to tell stories? What is best for society? What is best economically, for both artists and consumers, and even corporations that maybe aren't artists themselves, but who try to carve livelihoods from the marketing of the work of artists. It means looking at every issue, and actually trying to figure out something that works, and will work now. It means, in the case of a copyright bill, trying to suggest something that might just be flexible enough to survive the transition to a new economy. You can only go so far down that road, and there will come a time, no matter how forward looking, where that document needs to be updated, adjusted -- maybe even thrown out.

But to sit there smugly and parrot the slogans that you've heard in your little echo chamber is to absolutely miss the point. If you seem like you're living on theoretical cloud nine -- what you're going to get from the next copyright act is EXACTLY what you don't want. You're going to get a DRM filled, digital locking, sue the pants off everybody, copyright extends for big corporations forever cluster**** -- because the people in power will look at you and they will not take you seriously. Puff out your chest all you want. Yell the slogans. Talk about how powerful you are. The history of Canada is full of people complaining endlessly and then never in the end really doing anything.

You can be smug and cold and self satisfied how right you are, or you can wade in messily, try to understand the other person's point of view and come to a compromise. The people who think differently than you are not idiots. You do not have the monopoly on good ideas. And when you say the same thing that some of us have heard before a million times and think that somehow you're being daring and new, it's a little trying. You serve your cause better if you talk with less glee about all the things you're going to tear down, and talk in concrete terms about that which you're trying to build. History -- and town halls, are built by those who show up. Now, I'm done on this thread. The choice is yours. Reject all I've said and go back to back patting, or spend a little time actually trying to look at it from someone else's POV. Don't tell me what the consumer thinks. I'm the consumer too. Let go of the conspiracy theories and the stamping of the feet and high falutin theory and get down in the muck, roll up your sleeves and get to work with the rest of us. Then maybe you'll deserve your fair comment down the line, and what you'll say with your new found freedoms might actually be worth listening to.
August 29, 2009

Darryl Moore said:

Good video link
BTW, thank you Jason, I have been arguing similar things to what is presented in that video for at least the last few years. It is good to see the same argument coming from someone in the industry with some numbers to back it up.
August 29, 2009

DMc said:

Geez Louise
Jason, respectfully, right now you're like the kid who read an article in Discover talking to the Paleontologist about dinosaurs. I'm well aware of the innovations in my industry, and where it's going. I also gave an interview back in 1993 in Eye that predicted the Ipod and the problems the music industry would face. So what? The devil is in the details. You start in a previous comment from "why hasn't this happened yet?" and then try to tell me that "this is happening in the very near future" like I don't know about it? Give me a break. If it was as cut and dry and as "done deal" as you suggest, the money would be flowing from the banks like water. If you want to affect a greater knowledge than anybody who's actually tracking and working in the industry then that's great. But one of us in this discussion has interacted directly and discussed this issue with sales people, content creators, privacy advocates, producers, financiers, completion guarrantors, network executives, distributors, brand managers, business reporters, intellectual property, labor, and media lawyers, agents, studio vice presidents, ad buyers, and others on the front line every day -- and by your PhD level dissertation above, buddy, that's not you. But be well. I hope you're just as forceful and articulate and conversant with all the nuances of the issue as the University types who got up to speak last Thursday. They certainly reflected their side of the debate well.
August 29, 2009

Darryl Moore said:

...
DMc: " Now you're just being an idiot.
I suppose you can't take a drink because that's illegal too, right? And I certainly hope you pay that guy to run in front of the automobile announcing that you're coming down the road. And gosh, I hope you're not a slave, or one of those horrible suffragettes expecting the right to vote.

Laws change with the time. No law is "permanent." And even precedent is overturned in the face of change made manifest. "

Oh very good, you come up with some examples of when laws have been changed for the betterment of society. I suppose your point is that any change in copyright law which increases its breadth can at some point in the future be scaled back to reduce it as well.

Please elaborate on this point a little. Copyright has been around in one form or another since at least 1710 (Statute on Anne). Can you provide a single example of when the terms of copyright have been reduced, or maybe when works covered have been reduced. Or perhaps when legislation has taken a narrower instead of broader view of what qualified as a derived work. Please show me one concrete example of this anywhere in the word (except possibly for a failed state) and I will concede that I may be being an idiot for thinking that any strengthening of copyright law would not be a permanent change.
August 29, 2009

Jason K said:

...
@DMc - One of the things the people in all affected media industries need to understand is that the very negative impression they have with the public with respect to copyright. Rather than spending money asking the people what they want, and developing new models around that, and trying to repair it's image in the publics eye, we've seen a vast majority of money spend on lobbying for what you guys want to see.

DMc you have to understand that your posts here are understandable considering the frustration felt by members of the industry but do nothing to help your case in the public's eye, neither did the stunt that was pulled on Thursday. It's not the industry Minister that will determine the out come of this, it's those that vote that will. If the public doesn't like what it see's the we'll be back to square 1 in this debate. The industry isn't helping anyone at all by coming onto a blog and start pointing figures and crying foul on those very people responsible for your future. You started out with little to no credibility in this debate because of what the public see's and what's been very well represented by industry people like yourself in this blog.

A lot of us here want to support the industry, but the industry has to stop pushing it's negative persona of itself every chance it gets in order for them to take or have any credibility in the public domain. I understand how frustrated many are, but maybe getting on beat and learning what the market wants, adapting to it, and calling for things that are market friendly would win you the day on this one. As far as I'm concerned Industry owes creators quite a bit of money for failing to adapt to the market, not consumers. If the money had been spent on adapting to the digital world over the past 10 years and less on lobbying, you would be making a hell of a lot more money then you are today.

The industry may have thought they won the day on Thursday, but the reality is quite different to Canadians. The message was lost due to an over the top stunt that was pulled by both the industry and Clement himself. Your position may have been well received by Clement on Thursday, but completely out of touch with those that are in the position to decide where this goes, the Canadian Public. We are a democracy, please try to not forget that. We need solutions, not petty bickering by out of work writers who are holding on to 1993 as the highlight of their careers. This is 2009, get a reality check!
August 29, 2009

Tariq Muinuddin said:

...
@DMC
wrt levies I understand you feel that the music industry needs to get paid. Can I just ask you why you ought to be? Canadians have spoken with their wallets that they no longer want to spend the same amount of money on your product as they used to.

You blame downloading and piracy for losses in sales but ignore that since 1996 video game sales have quadrupled in size and are now bigger than music sales. Video games are easily pirated and are available for download at pirate sites before they can be purchased in stores. Additionally games cost quite a bit more than CDs.

Yet given the choice between music and video games, both of which can easily be pirated for free, people have shown themselves willing to pay for video games in a way they no longer are for music. That is the market speaking, and it is saying that music can no longer expect to keep its share of the entertainment dollar (which really can only stretch so far). Attempting to tax people to make up for their loss of interest in your products, while an understandable goal for the music industry, is not something of benefit for the 99.9% of Canadians who aren't in the industry.

Notes
According to CRIA stats, sales of music in 2008 were roughly 57% of their 1999 level, so this is not a case of video games taking a bigger piece of a smaller pie. If anything the pie has grown.

In 2007 the CPCC distributed just under $28 million. Music sales for that year were $440 million. I don't have figures for how much of the $440 million makes it to artists so can't say how big a percentage the CPCC distributions are. The CPCC distribution is 66% to authors and publishers, 18.9% to performers and 15.1% to record companies. For most music then the CPCC distribution could be rephrased as 18.9% to performers and 81.1% to record companies.
August 29, 2009

Geof said:

...
@DMc: "You (the collective you) know that a book, or a music track, or a TV program has a value attached to it. You could pay that freight, or not. But now there's a little helper that has found a way to let you in the back door of the candy store to take the candy for free. And when the owner of the Candy store says, 'hey, you shouldn't take that candy, you haven't paid for it,' you stamp your feet and complain loudly that you want it, and you can get it, so you should have it."

That is not why I'm here. I've spoken to others at my group's meetings, and it's not why they're involved either. If you look at our consultation guide (at www.faircopy.ca), I think this is pretty clear.
August 30, 2009

ecade said:

...
"Yet given the choice between music and video games, both of which can easily be pirated for free, people have shown themselves willing to pay for video games in a way they no longer are for music."

Not sure if this a fair comparison. Sure, music and video games can both be easily pirated for free, but there are some pretty fundamental differences between the two. First, while a typical mp3 is around 5MB, a typical Triple-A game is around 4-6GB and takes ALOT longer to download. Second, while cracked versions of single-player PC games can be played immediately, pirated console and handheld games only work on modded consoles and handhelds, making piracy more difficult and involved than simply downloading music.

Moreover, recent experience by indie developers show some very high piracy rates, so I'm not sure that your assertion is even true. 2D Boy has reported that its game World of Goo has a 90% piracy rate, while Stardock reported that only 18,000 of the 138,000 users who connected with their servers on installation of its game Demigod in the first day of release game were legitimate (meaning that the remaining 120,000 were pirates).
August 30, 2009

Michael said:

Hard to express my view
Thanks Mr Geist for "fighting the good fight" for those of us unable to adequately express our opinions on this matter.

I am scared that US style political games like the one described in your article will become commonplace here in Canada.
August 30, 2009

Tariq Muinuddin said:

...
I am not ignoring the fact that there is a large amount of game piracy, yet somehow the game industry is able to make it work for them. And if you compare it to the music industry they are able to do so to a spectacular degree.

Both the Nintendo Wii and DS can play pirated games without any modification to the hardware. The two systems are far and away the best-selling game consoles and games for these systems made 5 of the top 10 selling games for 2008. The XBox 360 does apparently require modification, and the Playstation 3 can not be modded to play games. The XBox 360 is the second best-selling console behind the Wii and the Playstation 3 is third. Modding these devices isn't difficult but for those who are hesitant to do it themselves, a couple of inquiries to high-school aged acquaintances would point you in the direction of shops who will do the modding for a nominal fee.

Game size would not be a big issue either. Pirate games for the DS are for the most part less than 100MB which would take a couple of minutes to download. Games for the Wii can go up to DVD size (4.4GB) and XBox 360 games are larger - around 7GB. That just means to leave a download running over a weekend. If someone's download cap for the month was 50GB they would easily be able to download more games in a month than they could play. If pirates co-ordinate with their pirate friends and share the games they have downloaded then they can save both the time spent downloading and their usage against their caps.

Game piracy isn't hard yet the industry has found a way to grow their industry. It would be nice if the music industry could follow suit instead of trying to tax people (taxing CDs and audio tapes? In the age of the $30 MP3 player no one uses either of these media for copying music to any meaningful degree). But if there is a levy, maybe it ought to be split with the games industry to make up to all of their lost sales due to piracy. Of course software piracy is also a problem, as is downloaded movies and tv shows... Surely they are as deserving as the music industry?
August 30, 2009

Jason K said:

Re: Darryl Moore
"BTW, thank you Jason, I have been arguing similar things to what is presented in that video for at least the last few years. It is good to see the same argument coming from someone in the industry with some numbers to back it up."

I'm one of the few that's educated and working in both media, and tech. "The Medium is the message" as stated by Marshall McLuhan a Canadain U of T professor. This quote to those in the media industries is the core of a lot of our training. It's too bad a lot of those in media, see the internet as "The Internet" and not a medium, nor using it properly to their advantage. This entire blog post is evidence they still have no clue how to use the net effectively. That's sad.

My media thesis was done on McLuhan, and actually how technologies like Napster could benefit from this and tie into McLuhan's "Medium is the message" statement. The thesis was done at a time when Napster was just another "Shareware" app, and before it was deemed evil in industry.

If McLuhan was a live today, I think he would be sitting back and laughing at the pure stupidity shown by industry here and in the T.O. town hall, and that room most certainly would have got a massive lecture by McLuhan for not embracing this new medium, and that creators need to look at the industry if they need someone to blame for their issues, not law and not government. It's no wonder why a lot of creators are having problems.

For more on McLuhan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_McLuhan

August 30, 2009

Ian Runkle said:

Copyright and the Internet, pt 1
Here's the fundamental problem:

We have a thing we want people to do (we want people to create new art/literature/media/etc). It is very difficult for people to get paid for this. Absent other factors, they're effectively doing a public service--they're benefitting others, but there isn't any inherent connection to money.

Now, copyright was, for a time, a very elegant solution. It worked by binding the difficult but profitless task up with one that was potentially quite profitable--selling copies. It wasn't ideal, but it worked well enough, mostly because the task of creating copies required infrastructure (meaning that you could shut illicit operations down), and because the act of copying was a thing that had value.

Enter computers and the internet. Suddenly, the act of making a copy of something is trivial. It's significantly less difficult than typing this sentence. The equipment required is not particularly expensive (it's well within the means of a middle-class family). Worse, the equipment is ubiquitous--most households in North America have it, and even if you don't, getting access to the relevant equipment is easy. Computer time goes for about 10$/hour at an internet cafe, or free at the local library. Economics predicts that the value of a copy should go down. Way, way down. Worse, a restriction that formerly only applied to few (printing companies and other publishers) now restricts everyone. The new abilities to get and manipulate content drastically changes how the average user expects to interact with their content. People expect that they can put a track from a CD they bought as background music to their birthday party, and post that birthday party video to YouTube. People expect that they can find a picture of a cute cat, slap a funny caption on it (in the process probably drastically increasing the interest value of the picture), and post it to icanhascheezburger.com.
August 30, 2009

Ian Runkle said:

Copyright and the Internet, pt 2
The various copyright-based industries have reacted by trying to make copy into a valuable thing again. They're fighting against a disruptive technology, which history should tell them is always a losing game. Wagon manufacturers couldn't defeat the car, even with rules that required cars have flag-wavers and the like. Similarly, the copyright industries will not defeat the computer, or the internet. In the process, they are making a lot of people angry, as people discover that DRM seriously impacts the property rights (actual property rights, not IP) of the consumer. People are being threatened with legal action because their YouTube video of their birthday party includes audible music from someone's boom box. As profits shrink from the standard mode of doing business, they look to press people they never bothered before--so people like construction site workers who listen to the radio are getting asked for cash.

Going forward, preventing copying is just going to get harder and harder, regardless of whatever legislative changes they throw in the way. Further, as the current generation ages and demographics shift to include more internet-savvy people, the political will for tough laws is going to shrink. The same thing happens as the results of harsh laws are reported--1.2 million dollar judgements might scare people into obedience, but they also sap agreement with the laws in question. Putting in strict laws is a stalling game for the copyright industry that is doomed to inevitably fall, but in the meantime it may mean destroying a number of people's lives. I very much want to prevent this.

A post-copyright model is clearly needed. Now, I was asked how artists can get paid without copyright. The glib answer is: "Not my problem." The even more glib answer would be something like, "I hear Wal-Mart is hiring." And it's entirely possible that art goes back to being something that only the rich do full-time, and which a lot of people do as a second job that takes up a lot of time and never generates more than beer money. However, I think that's unlikely. The internet makes reaching a vast variety of customers easier than ever. Maybe you can't sell them a copy of your track, but you can sell them T-shirts. You can sell them concert tickets. You asked for a model--that is the model. Use the music to become a name, use the name to sell products. No, it probably won't make artists as much money as they made in the era just before Napster. That period was a freak anomaly, and is never to return. But, artists will earn more money than they did in the era before copyright, when people like Shakespeare had to make a go of it.

There are other possible models, including such things as ransoming content (write book one, and release it. Then write book two, and have people send in donations which are held in trust--if the total reaches a set amount, book two gets published and the author keeps the money. If not, the donations are refunded). The real test of which model is the best is the market. And the sooner the market is allowed to dictate these things, the better.
August 30, 2009

maebnoom said:

...
(nice post Ian Runkle)

A great read: http://www.demonbaby.com/blog/...th-of.html

It’s pretty simple. The less middlemen, the more money gets to the artist. And in this digital age, things are heading into that direction, with direct online sales becoming more prevalent. (RE: http://www.zeropaid.com/news/8...oad-sales/ ) In the online world, artists don't need to rely on the labels & distributors the way they used to. Overheads are much lower. Heck, a few artists are/have released content *for free* with an option to donate, and made as much/more money than on previous hits. (Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, The Flashbulb...) Fans have no problems with supporting artists, if it's within reasonable limits...

You're witnessing the death throes of the "old way" of the music industry. They can pass all the laws they want; it won't do much other than delay the inevitable.
August 31, 2009

John said:

Magazine article?
Some good posts, DMc. I would suggest that you turn them into an article for a magazine, as they are quite informative. You could educate the public a bit about the lives of artists. I certainly don't think most of the bunch here, with their pseudo-economic analyses, spooky predictions about the future, stupid analogies, and inability to grasp that theft of a creator's work is the same as theft of any product, represent the general public.
October 14, 2009

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