Copyright’s Convergence

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version and non-reg hyperlinked version, homepage version) reflects on two major copyright events of the past ten days — last week's Grokster case and the recently announced Canadian copyright reforms. Of all the interesting anecdotes about the Grokster case, I found the fact that people began lining up at 2:30 p.m. the day before the hearing the most interesting. As I argue in the column, when people are willing to line up for nearly 24 hours to hear a copyright case, something far bigger than accessing free music is taking place.
That something is a dramatic shift in the production and distribution of creative work by millions of individuals who are both creators and users and now see copyright reform as relevant to them. The column highlights the convergence between mainstream media and this new creativity in the form of blogs as one example of this.

I note that copyright reform is always contentious, but that the players involved in the debate changes regularly. That evolution is happening yet again. The rejection of the Bulte Committee report's recommendation for copyright reform may reflect the fact that it was the 1997 reform players who appeared before the committee, not the 2004 players.

I conclude that "the success of future reform depends upon recognizing this evolution and ensuring that reform processes properly accommodate the broader circle. This is not a simple task — it may require governmental support for civil society organizations to better represent the millions of individual creators whose interests are not represented by traditional rights holder groups."

Update: The Ottawa Citizen version, titled Camping out for Copyright, is now online.

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