Mainstream Media Picks Up Where It Left Off on Copyright

Those that thought that interest in the copyright reform issue would disappear after the holidays have been in for quite a surprise.  The year ended with television coverage on the Hour and front page coverage of copyright in the Globe and Mail ("Ottawa Accused of Caving in to Hollywood on Copyright") and 2008 has seen more of the same.  Over the weekend, the Canwest papers covered the year-end Canadian digital music sales, noting that the growth is faster in Canada than in the United States.  Today, Canwest is back with an article that appears across the country on how a Canadian DMCA could make "everyday habits" illegal.  While some may quibble with some of the issues raised in the article (it is already unlawful to time shift in Canada and student restrictions apply in the digital realm), the article highlights how the consumer concerns associated with copyright reform have taken hold over the past six weeks.  Moreover, the article extends the issue to the Canadian business community, with comments from Telus on the need for more flexible fair dealing to allow new business models to emerge.

The Hill Times also sports prominent copyright coverage, with a front page article on the political implications of copyright reform.  I'm quoted several times in the piece, with the discussion on how copyright could emerge as an election issue if the Conservatives fail to address the need for balance.  I argue that this is particularly true in urban areas as well as those ridings with large universities and colleges.


  1. I guess what I’d like to see is a specific, quantitative suggestion around fair dealing. What EXACTLY should be allowed and on what terms? Is resale OK? What’s troubling me here is this blog and most of the comments are basically siding with telecoms and other distributors and resellers who stand to make much bigger profits if copyright law is relaxed so as to support their business models. Something else that troubles me is that if fair dealing is too widely drawn, and as a result too much content is freely copied, there has to come a point when some publishers, recording cos, etc., decide that some markets are unprofitable. And finally, CanWest isn’t 100% consistent on this because they have electronic products that clearly forbid any unauthorized distribution and they do enforce this.

  2. Jon: Suppose you visited a very special library. Inside this library, everyone just happened to be reading about topics that were interesting to you. This special library allowed each person to mention highlights of their reading to you. Would you not appreciate such a library? In fact, you might make the special library a stop in your daily routine. Right?

    If everyone was like you, and everyone stopped by their very own special library everyday, and listened and shared what they came across, the copyright laws might have to be changed. After all, many folks were sharing information with everyone else, and copyright holders were being “bypassed” as they no longer were the exclusive source of information in the same way they used to expect. Worse, there may be imagined profits that might be lost with such very special libraries. Maybe you could quantify exactly how such very special libraries should operate?

  3. But that’s not what this is all about, is it Tom? What this is about is letting that library buy just the one book and then using it so that as many people as want to can use it at the same time. And my question remains: what limits should apply to fair dealing? Reasonable question, I think.

  4. I just read the Hill Times article. Is Prof Geist really saying that we should all vote Tory to get new copyright laws???

  5. As content creators with a focus on new and emerging media, we understand the challenges surrounding the monetization ability of digital content. In this light the debate around protecting content from ‘unauthorised’ downloads / usage has intrigued me right from the beginning both as a consumer as well as a creator.
    While iTunes and more recently even sections of Bollywood have been able to sell DRM protected content and reaped moderate benefits, introducing the idea of ‘paid’ digital media to consumers, DRM implementation is still hobbled by lack of universal standards, high costs and overstated efficacy. As a Short Form Content developer in India, we have evaluated DRM specifically in our context (SFC) as opposed to the holy grail of digital content. And we believe, A new medium needs a new idiom. The success of the quirky creative endeavors has been fuelled by a viral internet platform. The content creators allow (via their web sites / channels] users to carry (embed) their work and share it with the rest of the cyber world without paying a penny.

    This massive traffic and organized distribution has created new markets and made it easier to access the old ones. For some amateurs there may not be much after a short spate of viewership but a serialized, well marketed amateur video can evolve into a brand (lonelygirl15). I strongly feel Internet is a beautiful medium to help content travel to various markets and demographics. Instead of locking it down be prepared to re-purpose / re-orient your product to any distribution channels such as Mobile or even Print.

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