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    Del Mastro on Format Shifting

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    Wednesday May 16, 2012
    Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro offers up one of the oddest copyright analogies during the C-11 debate, likening format shifting to socks and shoes.
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    Cdn Music Industry Assoc Chair: Format Shifting, User Generated Content Keep Piracy Sites Going

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    Wednesday September 15, 2010
    J.P. Ellson, the Chair of the Canadian Council of Music Industry Association and board member of the industry's Balanced Copyright for Canada site, makes some rather surprising claims in a post urging Canadians to join the BCFC cause.  After the usual industry talking points on C-32, Ellson implausibly argues:

    Among Bill C-32’s objectives is to put the pirate download and file-sharing sites out of business. But the provisions of the Bill that permit user-generated content and transferring digital files to other formats would in fact, keep the pirate flag flying and their sites in business.

    Ellson's comments are consistent with adage that when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In this case, when piracy is your only frame of reference for copyright reform, everything looks like piracy.  Ellson makes an incredible leap in claiming that consumers that format shift are somehow engaged in piracy or supporting sites that promote piracy.  Format shifting involves nothing more than allowing consumers who have already purchased products to shift the content from one format to another - ie. move songs from a CD to an iPod.  The new provision includes numerous limitations - the original cannot be an infringing copy or it must be legally obtained, the individual cannot give away the copy, and it must be used for private purposes (unfortunately, the provision is also subject to the presence of digital locks). Even the BCFC recognized the reasonableness of format shifting as an early form letter designed for consumers stated "If Bill C-32 passes, it will give me the peace of mind of knowing that when I take music I've purchased and downloaded online, and copy it to my player, it's legal." Given these restrictions and background, how can the lead representative of Canadian Council of Music Industry Association now argue that this promotes piracy?

    Similarly, the user generated content provision allows Canadians to make non-commercial new works that incorporate other copyrighted works.  This provision - dubbed by many as the YouTube provision for supporting popular online mashups - has nothing to do with piracy. It is remarkable to find the chair of a leading industry association now claiming that these provisions support websites that promote piracy.  In fact, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore had a better description for these kinds of claims - radically extreme.
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    UK Launches Copyright Consultation on Exceptions

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    Monday December 14, 2009
    The UK has launched a new copyright consultation on exceptions.  The consultation notably recommends against a narrow format shifting exception, arguing instead that something far bigger is needed.  It states "we would however encourage the EU to look at options that benefit consumers, including the possibility of a broad exception to copyright for non-commercial use."
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    Access Copyright: Reduce Fair Dealing, No Taping TV Shows or Format Shifting

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    Wednesday October 14, 2009
    The Government continues to post copyright consultation submissions (still lots to go one month after the consultation concluded) with many making for interesting reading.  Access Copyright's submission is worth noting for two reasons.  First, rather than simply arguing against flexible fair dealing, it argues that the current fair dealing provision as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada is actually too broad.  It states:

    Rather than an expansion of fair dealing, Access Copyright believes that it may be necessary to qualify the fair dealing provision as set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in the CCH decision, in order to ensure that Canada is compliant with the three-step test. Access Copyright contends that the fair dealing provision as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada conflicts with the normal exploitation of a work and causes an unreasonable loss of income to creators and publishers.

    The collective goes on to say that research should be limited to non-commercial instances only (the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that there was no such limitation).  Access Copyright also takes aim at format and time shifting, submitting "that good public policy should not be dictated by legalizing common public practices." It is particularly concerned with format shifting, arguing for additional compensation for such exceptions.
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