CRIA continues its copyright lobbying today by releasing yet another poll that it claims reveals Canadians' attitudes on copyright law. This follows the fall release in which it laughably sought to link file sharing with a wide assortment of evils including shoplifting and cheating on exams.
The poll makes an assortment of claims:
- 91 percent of Canadians believe that artists should be protected by copyright
- 55 percent view copyright as an election issue
- 68 percent want stronger copyright laws
- 32 percent would vote for a party pledging to establish stronger copyright laws (17 percent would not and it would not make a difference to 44 percent)
A few brief comments on this CRIA-sponsored research. Two of the results come as little surprise. First, that 91 percent believe that artists should be protected by copyright makes sense since just about everyone rightly concludes that copyright has a role to play in protecting creativity. Copyright protection per se is not the issue – artists already have copyright protection for their work and no party is calling for the elimination of copyright (nor do I know of many people on either side that want to see copyright eliminated). Second, it is good to hear that that 55 percent want to hear from the parties on copyright since that is consistent with the views of people on all sides of the copyright debate (I' ve written two pieces on the subject).
The more interesting (or headline grabbing) data will involve the views on stronger copyright laws. The data here illustrates why it is difficult to get parties to turn their attention to copyright, since notwithstanding CRIA's emphasis on the 32 percent who say they would vote for parties who favour stronger copyright laws, nearly half of the those polled say it makes no difference, while almost one in five see it as a negative.
What is most important about this poll, however, is what it doesn't ask. What percentage of Canadians would say that the law should protect consumers against the secret installation of copy protection programs that threaten the security on their computer? What percentage of Canadians would say they should be entitled to view a store-bought DVD in their homes regardless of where it is purchased? What percentage of Canadians would say that they should be entitled to make a copy of their CDs to listen to on their iPod? What percentage of Canadians are aware of the $140 million that has been collected under the private copying system, the majority of which goes to Canadian artists? These are the sorts of questions that must be asked for this poll to have any real credibility since my guess is that the numbers would be even higher. Canadians are deeply troubled by issues such as the Sony Rootkit, DVD regional coding, and the shortcomings of the private copying system and copyright policy must take these issues into account.
Given these omissions, the poll doesn' t really tell us very much about copyright policy. However, alongside the hosting of a major fundraiser for Liberal MP Sam Bulte, it does confirm that CRIA and its president Graham Henderson plan to use this election campaign to lay the groundwork for a major copyright reform push in 2006.