Fair Copyright for Canada Goes Local

The Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group has attracted considerable media attention in recent weeks as its continued growth (over 37,000 members) and impact on the policy debate is a noteworthy part of the Canadian copyright reform story.  While the public concern over a Canadian DMCA likely contributed to the decision to delay in the bill last December, indications over the past few days are that the legislation may be back on track.  The bill is coming sooner rather than later and though it may feature some changes, Industry Minister Jim Prentice is pushing forward with a Canadian DMCA.

If true, Canadians must continue to press their elected officials to listen to the concerns of Canadians on digital copyright.  To that end, I am delighted to announce that the Fair Copyright for Canada group is expanding with local chapters and website outside Facebook.  The local chapters will organize local events, facilitate meetings with area Members of Parliament, and educate their communities about fair copyright.  The initial chapters include Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, London, Montreal, Ontario East, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Windsor/Essex County, and Winnipeg/Manitoba.  Many of these groups launched quietly over the holidays with great success – the Montreal chapter alone already has over 200 members.

My hope is that people will join both the national group, which will continue to be the home to a robust conversation on copyright, as well as their local chapter.  If your community or school is not represented and you would be interested in getting involved, let me know.

Update: IT World Canada covers the launch of local chapters with interviews with several local leaders. 


  1. Edward Palonek says:

    Edward Palonek
    There might be one small problem here. Facebook has been recently hit with media press about the lack of security and privacy. Having these groups on face book is sort of an irony? While facebook has made some changes, the changes are minimal at best and the lack of privacy and security has not really been addressed. But not too take away from the subject at hand. Just wish there was a better way then facebook. Never the less what the group stands for and what it does is fantastic. [ link ]
    Edward Palonek

  2. I\’m still not seeing what represents \”fair\”. If I was a writer I think I\’d be pissed off at losing some of my income just because a lot of people felt that was fair. Theft is still theft even if a majority decides its OK to take my stuff. No?

  3. You’re right, it’s not fair that musicians take money from me when I back up my own movies or photographs or software to a CD, when I put my own movies on a video iPod to show to clients.

    Fair is fair, and the levy is theft, pure and simple as you point out.

    Copying other’s works for gain or profit is also theft.

    Fair use in making backups, media or time shifting is reasonable and doesn’t harm media creators.

  4. So what you’re saying Graeme is that no-one ever copied music they haven’t paid for? Cos if that isn’t what you’re saying, then surely a levy as long as it’s reasonable is way easier in compensating musicians than DRM, or making people get permission every time they want to copy.

  5. Chris Brand says:

    \”loss of income\” is not theft
    If I own a record store and Wal-Mart opens up down the street, I\’m likely to lose a lot of income, but we don\’t call it \”theft\”, we call it \”competition\”.

    Yes, maying copyright fairer could mean that rightsholders can collect less in royalties. As most of the royalties mandated by the Act never make it to the actual artists anyway, any effect on actual artists is likely to be pretty small.

    My gut feeling is that artists will benefit far more from the disintermediating effect of the Internet that means that their royalties no longer need to go through all the middlemen than they will lose if the actual royalty stream is reduced a little.

    I also think that a fairer Copyright Act would lead to far greater respect for copyright itself. A law that makes everyday activities illegal (using your VCR, copying a CD to your iPod, etc) leads to people ignoring the whole law, rather than just the unreasonable parts.

  6. Theft is a criminal matter. The words you are looking for are copyright infringement.

  7. R. Bassett Jr. says:

    Michael, please plea for a 2010 pardon!
    It is entirely reasonable, judging from the cases in the USA where the defendent is saddled with proving his innocence rather than the procecution proving he’s actually guilty of the charges, that the CRIA/RIA could “serve” all 30 million Canadians the day after this law put forward. Logic dictates that they would make their $15 million dollars in stamps from out of court settlements from only a couple thousand of Canadians and the rest would be all profit. Even if only 1% of people responded and settled, that’s still $900 million dollars if that 1% settled for an average of $3000, as in the USA. Sadly, almost all we Canadians will be guilty of infringment right away, as such we NEED TIME to clean house.

    FACT: I own software that can recover data from deivices that have had their data deleted, as it is pretty common software and it’s cheap. As such, I can “prove” that I was an infringer at one time, even if I clean up my act – consiquently, the ONLY way to clean up my digital life would be to litterally physcally destroy all of my digital storage devices and media.

    FACT: Canadian business and indivuals NEED a 100% pardon on all data stored to digital devices before January 1st, 2010, as it is the only way we can avoid being taken advantage of. We need time to clean up our act and we time to provide the public with a comprensive, plain language instruction set on how to become legal under this new law.

    Not providing such a pardon is completely irresponsible and is entirely possible of crashing the Canadian economy overnight. But understanding how this is possible requires taking a step back and looking at the “big picture”; This DMCA is setting Canada and Canadians up for a terrible fall and it is down-right frightening.

  8. Sure people copy things they shouldn’t, but there are laws that make that illegal and their are courts if a copyright holder thinks it’s in their best interest to use them.

    However, I think making a backup, in the true sense of the word, not as a euphemism for a free copy from your friend, does not harm media creators in any way, and makes consumers feel happier to buy more as they stand less chance of loosing their purchase to their child “playing” with their DVDs etc. Backups should not be copyright infringement. Copying should only mean copying beyond your personal use, copying for profit, or copying for the purpose of distribution beyond your private control.

    The levy a) assumes mass copying, b) treats legitimate business who do not copy music as if they do, c) harms musicians as the public feel that if they’re paying for the copy, they’re going to copy, not buy, d) harms musicians as it de-values their work e) and harms musicians as they’d be lucky to get a couple of dollars from the millions collected. A levy on iPods and blank DVDs and memory cards would just set up cross border shopping of immense proportions.

    The only way to deal with people copying music is to charge a price for it that is reasonable, so customers don’t feel ripped off, and make sure that most of that money goes to the people who made the music, not to the suits. It doesn’t have to cost much to produce music these days – a few thousand dollars of computer gear can be a recording studio that would have cost millions twenty years ago.

  9. royalties are not a right
    your profit forecasts are not my problem. i’m sick and tired of artists expecting me to pay physical-media prices when i’m paying for bandwidth and media and the cost to artists is dropping like a rock (high server fees? try bittorrent, et al.). not just that but the supply of content is increasing as people turn from consumer to producer. i’m gonna go out on a limb and risk getting pooh flung at me, but i’m starting to expect a little LOVE in my art; it’s implied that i’ll be the one making it if i don’t find what i want elsewhere. most of the words you write aren’t worth “protecting” with drm. as a corollary, i absolutely DO have a right to speak without worrying that every colloquialism i come up with isn’t already owned by freakin coca-cola.

    the one-way tube of media is backing up. welcome to the post-information/interactive age, where no one has a corner on art or culture, and pretty much EVERY monkey soon will have a megaphone of his very own. if i see anyone expecting a “free kick” (covers groin) just because i like his music/movies/ideas enough to spend my time/bandwidth/storage/money sharing/promoting/remixing them, i will publicly denounce him and either support or become his direct competition. welcome to heaven/hell.

    seriously… no one is stealing from you. the world is just moving while you stand still. don’t be a big baby. ™ maybe get a job in food production so the same thing can eventually happen there. can you imagine what it’ll be like when food no longer supports a centralized industry? when every lawn is a garden? when you can walk down a public street and pick an apple? why, we’ll all be out of a job! ironically, there will be lobbyists for imposing artificial food scarcity when that time comes too. we can be quite cruel to each other…

  10. Jon, care to point out some specific instances in which people are taking away writers\’ incomes? Thanks!

  11. Jon – I’m constantly amazed by people who think that theft is an appropriate response to theft. I don’t have a single byte of stolen content on any of my computers, so why does anyone claim a right to steal my money when I buy blank media? How is this morally different from requiring all Canadians who live in a city to spend one weekend in jail per year to ‘compensate’ all victims of unsolved urban crimes? Because somebody has to pay?

  12. WJM, I can give you some examples, if that’s what you mean.

    Example 1: an album is released, with my music. It’s copied and uploaded to a P2P site and then downloaded by who knows how many people. I don’t get paid for that and album sales are likely less than they might have been.

    Example 2: I write a book. College profs decide they like it but instead of adopting it, they copy it chapter by chapter and hand these out or put them on library reserve. Don’t see me getting paid here, either.

    Example 3: I borrow a textbook from a friend, go to Staples, and photocopy the whole thing.

    Each of these strikes me as a problem. Genuine back-up, sure. Time-shifting – well, seems that that’s a bit of US law we do want, and likewise can’t see it does any harm.

  13. “Example 1: an album is released, with my music. It’s copied and uploaded to a P2P site and then downloaded by who knows how many people. I don’t get paid for that and album sales are likely less than they might have been.”

    Trouble with your logic is that many studies have shown that downloading music actually increases the likelyhood of albums being purchased – in other words, file sharing is often used as a “pre-sale preview”.

    “Example 2: I write a book. College profs decide they like it but instead of adopting it, they copy it chapter by chapter and hand these out or put them on library reserve. Don’t see me getting paid here, either.”

    Please cry more about libraries loaning books to people, it’s very constructive. No professor would waste time and paper making multiple copies of entire books. Have you ever recieved any post secondary education? If so, did they not give you a required book list every single semester? If not, you should be aware they gave every other student in Canada one.

    “Example 3: I borrow a textbook from a friend, go to Staples, and photocopy the whole thing.”

    That would make you an idiot. Do you know how expensive that would be for the average text book? You’d be better off to buy a used copy. Duh.

    I’m sure there are instances where usage goes to point of stealing (such as renting a movie and making a copy of it before returning it), but what you described are not examples of the theft you’d like everyone to acknowledge.

  14. No, I’m saying two things. One is that the existing law is fuzzy and this creates problems; and the second is that I think we’d sound much more plausible if we acknowledge that some things aren’t fair use.

  15. Beverly OMalley says:

    The existing law is not fuzzy. The copyright for original work is held by the author. There is nothing fuzzy about that.