The CCC on Copyright Reform

The Creators' Copyright Coalition is out this morning with its position on copyright reform.  The CCC includes many large creator associations and copyright collectives.  Though there are some notable exceptions – the Canadian Music Creators Coalition, Appropriation Art, and the Documentary Organization of Canada to name three – there are some important voices here.

While the government's focus on copyright reform has centred on new technologies, the CCC's position paper seems to focus primarily on non-digital issues.  Indeed, the CCC is clearly troubled by the growing concern from users (it talks of "the tendency to privilege users") and of the Supreme Court of Canada's emphasis on balancing copyright (it laments that users are "now officially part of an on-going process of striking a 'necessary balance'").  The position paper sets out to scale back user concerns by dropping the SCC's balance objective to one where the "Copyright Act's main objective is to protect the moral and economic rights of creators."  Moreover, it seeks to limit the fair dealing provision, by specifically excluding any commercial purposes from within its ambit.

In addition to shifting away from a copyright balance, the CCC looks at copyright reform primarily as the opportunity to introduce new rights and fees.  In particular:

  • a massive expansion of the private copying levy so that it covers all works (not just sound recordings) and all media
  • an extension of the exhibition right to all visual works not in the public domain
  • the creation of a new droit de suite right that would pay creators for their work and for any successive sales of their work
  • the striking of a provision from the Copyright Act that allows for public reading or recitation of a reasonable extract of a work
  • the creation of a new peformers' right for reproduction
  • abolishing a discounted tariff designed to ease the burden on small broadcasters

Moreover, the CCC calls on the government to implement the WIPO Internet treaties and to force ISPs to play a more active role in policing their networks through a notice and takedown system. 

The CCC is obviously unconcerned with user rights or the many creators who cite uncertainty of access as a primary worry.  Indeed, many will interpret these proposals – limits on fair dealing, expanded private copying, and elimination of public recitation of extracts – as a clear attack on user rights.  This places Industry Minister Jim Prentice in an even greater quandry since he can now add the CCC to the list of groups that will not like his Canadian DMCA.


  1. Dwight Williams says:

    Oh joy
    And, if I’ve read your summary correctly, the CCC won’t like it because it’s not inflicting enough brusque strong-arming…? Well, they don’t speak for this creator/user. Have they forgotten that creators are also, by definition, users?

  2. Extending levies means CCC becomes “Comunist Copyright Collective”. What people who like strong copyright need to remember is that that all creatives enjoy our collective creative inheritance that gives us a broad framework of ideas, concepts and language for us all to be create in.

  3. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    “What people who like strong copyright need to remember is that that all creatives enjoy our collective creative inheritance that gives us a broad framework of ideas, concepts and language for us all to be create in.”

    That’s an interesting point of view, essentially stating that all works of modern creativity are derivative, born from the collective cultural experience of humanity. If that is the case, then only works proven to be acceptably underivative could be considered eligible for copyright and thus not part of the public domain. In essence, it is the same principal as being considered innocent until proven guilty – all works are considered public domain until proven unique.

    That would be an acceptable way to treat materials used for private purposes, with freedom to format shift, but not to distribute in any form outside of one’s immediate family and single physical residence. However, it is difficult to arrange a reasonable mechanism of limitation on this freedom in reagards to vacations, students, as well as work and health related displacment from the place of residence.

  4. The argument is that that’s why copyright should be for limited times, not forever. DRM makes copyright “effectively” for ever, even if you’re legally aloud to hack it for non-infringing purposes.

    To illustrate the above, where would the author be without the English or French language or literary heritage to draw on? Where would I as a software developer be without the rich heritage of programming languages and algorithms, and the whole of mathematics?

  5. “The CCC recommends the expansion of the private copying regime to include all categories of work covered by the Copyright Act.”

    I can see it now; the private copying levy applied to paper!

  6. Alan Willaert says:

    American Federation of Musicians
    With regard to your comments to the release of the Creators’ Copyright Coalition platform, it should be noted that Creators are probably also the heaviest consumers of copyrighted materials. What musician does not own thousands of CDs? It then follows that these folks are best positioned to render the most balanced view on what is fair in Copyright reform.

    First of all, regarding the abolishment of “the tariff designed to ease the burden” on small broadcasters – the original intent of that law was to do just that – offer an exemption to small broadcasters who made less than $1.25M in advertising revenue. Instead, the law was bastardized to mean that ALL stations get an exemption on the first $1.25M in revenue. That’s a huge difference, was never the intent and is wrong. That’s why we want it changed.

    In the first paragraph of your comments, you allude to the “notable exceptions” being absent from the CCC list of creators groups, particularly the Canadian Music Creators Coalition. Most of these folks are already members of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, who represent more than 15,000 members in Canada, and by virtue of Federal Status of the Artist, somewhere north of 100,000 musicians in this country., and we ARE on the list. Their little sub-group is what, 180 people? Yet you prefer to use them as a measure of what musicians in this country want, simply because their record company taught them to say, “We don’t want to sue our fans”. I doubt their expertise in Copyright goes much deeper than that. What our members DO want is a world-class Copyright law that allows us to have reciprocal agreements in other countries, so that our musicians’ rights are protected in other countries, as we protect the rights of their musicians here. There are 150 member-countries of the International Federation of Musicians, of which AFM is a part. We would love to be able to show them that we have Copyright laws as progressive and effective as theirs.

    In response to your observation that our group wishes to limit fair dealing to the existing exceptions, especially where commercial use is concerned, you are absolutely correct. Let’s not forget that Canada is signatory to the Berne convention, as well as the TRIPS agreement, which have in common something called the 3-step test. Since you appear to have forgotten it, let me quote: “Members [countries] shall confine limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to certain special cases which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the copyright holder.” Look closely, and you will conclude that some of the current exemptions already meet or exceed that definition. We are not going further.

    For good measure, I wanted to make a comment regarding the inane privacy issue surrounding use of DRMs. A digital marking of some kind is required to be able to track the downloading and use of a sound file. This is necessary to correctly remunerate the rights-holder. The stir is that being able to track when it’s stolen or illegally downloaded is an invasion of privacy, ostensibly of the person doing the stealing. So we should therefore remove the DRM, or, I guess make the download legal. Well, then, I guess those same folks won’t mind if we remove the VIN numbers from automobile bodies and engines. After all, we wouldn’t want to be able to track it and invade the privacy of the thief if it’s stolen.

  7. Darryl Moore says:

    Water marks and DRM
    It is both amusing and sad to read Alan Willaert’s response.

    Amusing that he can accuse CMCC of being ill-informed of copyright issues, but at the same time demonstrate his own lack of understanding by confusing Digital Water Marking with Digital Restrictions Management.

    Sad that it is people like him, who obviously do not understand the issues themselves or are intentionally spreading confusion, that are being primarily relied upon by our government to create these new laws.

  8. Alan also forgets that digital watermarking of music ruins in the sound quality, especially if it\’s robust enough to survive being made into an MP3 or being broadcast over the radio. If music is so watermarked, it become increasingly obvious that music can be produced for next to nothing, unlike in the old days when recording equipment was expensive. For $1000 any musician can record their album on their home computer. With watermarking ruining the sound, any money spent on expensive studios or engineers is wasted. This route just devalues musicians work and worth.

  9. Russell McOrmond says:

    CCC confusing Watermarking/RMI with DRM

    It isn’t correct to state that all watermarking ruins sound quality. You seem to be worried about specific implementations of a generic technique, rather than looking at the technique as a whole.

    Having watermarks, digital signatures, metadata and other such information about content would be extremely helpful, and I am supportive of laws which protect these marks and metadata.

    This is an entirely different concept than “DRM” which is the application of digital locks to devices used to create, distribute and access digital content. This is a critical distinction that the member organizations of CCC are uninterested in discussing (I have been trying since 2001 to have conversations), and yet form the core of the WIPO Internet treaty debate.

    I have been blogging on the IT World Canada Enterprise Insights BLOG [ link ] about these issues, with a recent article titled “Even in the “DRM” debate, Content is not King” focusing on this issue.

  10. Audible watermarking that is robust enough to be useful has so far proven itself to be audible in all cases. Watermarks as metadata are too easily removable to be useful, but yes, they don’t effect sound quality. My comment is that using such technologies that distort their sound devalues the worth of their own product even further than affordable audio recording has done, and further than the mass free to end user audio distribution via radio has done. I don’t think legally mandating such watermarking would work at all, and I don’t see anyone asking for it. Putting in laws that enforce equipment to respect such watermarks however is just another form of DRM.

  11. In previous attacks on existing copyright, the cranky Creator’s Copyright Coalition has complained that people with perceptual disabilities, chiefly blind people, have the right to make accessible versions of certain works, mostly books, if the copyright holder of the book doesn’t. As far as CCC was concerned, any such uses should be subject to special payment and veto by the copyright holder.

    [ link ]

    I read the CCC’s latest paper (badly typeset and sometimes misspelled), which does indeed seek to place a levy on every general-purpose computer and iPod in the country. But it doesn’t talk about the accessibility exemption in the list of exemptions CCC wants repealed.

    Maybe CCC can use this forum to reassure us that it isn’t interested in going after blind people who use copyright law to redress a failure in the marketplace so they can read the same things blind people do. Or is CCC waiting for some later stage to launch that salvo?

  12. ^^^
    read the same things *sighted* people do

  13. Lost in all the digital technology debate, it seems – a search of this site turned up a discussion dating from 2004 – is the question as to whether or not Canada will join the U.S. and EU in extending copyright from “death plus fifty” years to “death plus seventy” as the Canadian government has long been lobbied to do from both within and without the country. Does anyone know what the government’s current thinking on this is? Where do the CCC and other groups stand on it today? Michael Geiest, will you be posting a blog entry on this topic soon bringing us all up to date on this crucial issue?

  14. Extending copyright would be a mistake. It’s all ready long enough as it is. Especially as DRM effectively means perpetual copyright.

  15. @T.B.: “Proposed EU … copyright extension shot down”: [ link ]