Getting Beyond Canada’s Copyright Myths

The Hill Times features a special op-ed I wrote based on my presentation last week at the Public Policy Forum's conference on intellectual property.  Getting Beyond Canada's Copyright Myths (Hill Times version (sub required), homepage version) highlights the same five myths discussed in the presentation (video, audio), namely the importance of copyright, consultation and reform, Canada in the World, copyright in the world, and achieving a copyright consensus.


  1. Russell McOrmond says:

    Michael Geist: fictional character, or t
    I referenced this recent talk in an article talking about the G-word phenomena at CopyCamp.

    [ link ]

    Hopefully we can get some of the traditional creators and creator groups to realize there is more than one possible incentive for creativity and innovation. They also need to realize that people discussing the full spectrum of methods of production, distribution and funding/motivation aren’t anti-creator!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The point that you – and Professor Geist – miss is that “professional” authors are, like him, on salaries (paid by taxpayers) that usually run into six figures. And one of the reasons they get paid these salaries is to write. So there is an argument for sating that they shouldn’t get paid by way of royalties. However, it depends what they write and when that writing is done, because it isn’t all done in “office” time. And others writers absolutely should get paid as it’s how they make a living.

  3. The passive voice
    The use of the passive voice always raises red flags for me.

    Dear anonymous poster, when you say “writers should get paid”… who is the actor? Should get paid BY WHOM?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, let me make it simple. If content is written for sale, then anyone using that content must pay for it. We can debate how much and for how long, but no-one works…for nothing, including university professors.

  5. Anyone?

    Under all and any circumstance?


  6. Palonek
    In reality information should have an expiry date, after all no content is original in context. So why bother with cumbersome laws that we know will not work in reality. Having a 10 year content expiry on information should be global. After all there are so many who believe information should be free to begin with so that we may educate our kids and further our own development…
    [ link ]

  7. Anonymous says:

    Yes, everyone. You pay for everything else, so why should someone else’s work be free? Tuition costs, computers cost, hydro costs, communications cost. Subject to reasonable (not flexible) fair dealing, content costs too. And – information may be free, but information is not the same as copyright content.

  8. David Sanftenberg says:

    No one sane is proposing that all writers should write gratis. Innovation in a market comes due to a stress on that market. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. The government ought not legislate merely to save a business model, but rather with a view to providing the fullest benefit to society as a whole.

    May I remind you, Monsieur Anonymous, that the current dead-tree publishing business model is far, far younger than the printed word, and is by no means a sacred cow. Further, there are legitimate concerns here regarding the current state of fair dealing and the public interest. We’ve seen the legislative agenda shift largely towards favouring copyright-holders’ rights over the general public’s, and the reasons for this are vague and vacuous indeed…some of the finest products yet produced by content lobbyists, in fact.

    The publishing and film industries are hardly on their last legs, and we ought to have a cool-headed, impartial analysis of whether any of these proposed “reforms” to copyright will do anything but give power away to rights-holders for no other reason or benefit than to increase an already entirely adequate profit, or worse, to safeguard a business model that ought to be left to adapt to the conditions of a free market.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Free market seems to be the operative word! I’m not saying there’s no room for fair dealing, just that fair does not mean taking what you want without paying for it. And if you want a good example of where a free market can lead, it takes to what’s happening with food prices worldwide.

  10. Darryl Moore says:

    Fair means unrestricted unless it causes
    “fair does not mean taking what you want without paying for it.”

    With regards to intellectual property, I think this statement needs to be justified. Intellectual property is not real property, it is an artificial monopoly which restricts behaviour of others. Under common law the only justification for restricting another persons behaviour is if that behaviour causes actual harm to another. Why is the same standard not applied to copyright? So if I create a derived work which increases sales of the original, I have causes no harm. I have even created a benefit. Therefore my actions should not be restricted.

    Basically every right granted through an artificial monopoly should have to be justified by how it benefits society. If there is no net benefit to society then that right should not exist. In this regard, the existence of all the new technology tools which aid copying and creating, makes a good argument for why copyright monopolies should be significantly reduced. Flexible ‘fair dealings’ should be the norm and only a few monopoly rights which demonstrably benefit society, should remain.

    No how do you justify putting restrictions on me and how I can interact with my culture, (even if I do make money doing so) if my actions do not cause harm to you?

  11. Anonymous says:

    On that basis you could argue – and many do – that occupying vacant homes, or taking unsold food, or even parked cars, does not cause harm. If the derived work increases sales of the original, that\\\’s one thing. But in many and probably most cases, it will divert and therefore reduce sales of the original. Most of the discussion on this blog, though, has nothing to do with derivative work, but with \\\”sharing\\\” work without payment.

  12. Darryl Moore says:

    I’m afraid you’ll have to make that argument because I don’t see how my argument can be used to justify the taking of ANY tangible objects. You say that many do make this argument? Do you have links?

    WRT sharing, no one has proven that there is a negative effect upon artists. In fact there is evidence that it actually helps them. [ link ]

  13. Anonymous says:


    “no one has proven that there is a negative effect upon artists”

    That\’s where you go wrong, it\’s never been about artists, it\’s about corporations do what is best for their bottom line. The problem is the Canadian Goverment is bowing (or bending over) for the American Goverment. And in turn the American Goverment is accepting bribes. Call it lobbying all you want, money is given, and in turn the goverment rules in favor of the bribers.