Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Griffin Carpenter, the party's youth and education critic, have published an op-ed with their views on copyright. They point to three key principles: extend user rights through a flexible fair dealing mechanism, reform crown copyright and the public domain to build a healthy information commons, and reform statutory damages provision by linking it to reasonably demonstrated loss.
Green Party on Copyright Reform
August 14, 2009
Tags: copycon / copyright / elizabeth may / fair dealing / green party
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I have to agree with the first comment that she doesn’t seem to say much more than anyone else. The same old “balance between users and creators.” What she, and the other parties don’t seem to understand is that a strong public domain and information commons is for the benefit of *creators* not users. The people who have a vested interest in locking down culture are the ones who already own most of our culture and wish continued dominance. If Walt Disney was starting out today, he wouldn’t be able succeed the way he did -he was able to *create* because he had access to a strong public domain and weak or nil enforcement of “appropriation” of copyrighted material.
Can someone tell me what flexible fair dealing really means, preferably with some examples?
Youth and Education Critic, Green Party of Canada
locklin, I don’t agree with your emphasis on distinguishing between creators and users. Without a doubt you are correct that a strong public domain and information common is for the benefit of creators, but I think this comment holds for users as well. I am of the belief that in this information age the distinction between creators and users has largely been broken down. This is reflected in the article’s statement that “…even distinctions between creators and users fail to reflect an accurate picture of the nature of innovation. In the digital age of blogs and remixes, the lines between creators and users have become even more blurred.”
With respect to the article being vague, I have responded in the comments section of Straight. Essentially, while those actively following the copyright consultations may have a certain wish list of policy stances they would like to see in a Green Party op-ed, the idea with this op-ed was to take a step back and see if we cannot bridge some divides in the discussions by asking the underlying philosophical questions. What does a creative society look like? What constitutes unique work? What is the idea behind public domain? Before we answer “how” it is important to first answer “what”.
Bob Morris, the term “flexible fair dealing” refers to the nature of the fair dealing provision: that fair dealing is a question of degree and cannot be defined concretely. Reforms made to the fair dealing provision must thus reflect this spirit by leaving room for interpretation. In fact, providing examples of fair dealing is a backwards question as fair dealing is meant to be a broad concept that should not be confined to specific instances. The CCH Canadian Limited v. Law Society of Upper Canada case should help clarify what I am referencing here.
The SCC(?) ruling CCH v Law Society, from what I have seen, had a very restrictive set of conditions. It seems to have been interpreted in a much broader fashion. I am not sure that I agreed with the ruling, in as much as it stated that copies made, in whole or in part, from a library may be used under the existing fair dealing provisions for “for-profit” purposes. In this particular case law firms were getting copies of a portion of a book from the Law Society library for use in a case that they were working on.
Where I disagree in particular with this ruling is that the law firm is doing this for profit; if they had bought the book in question they could have written off the expense, unlike if I had bought it for instance.
The ruling does no have a very restrictive set of conditions. The fair dealing section of the decision begins: “Under s. 29 of the Copyright Act, fair dealing for the purpose of research or private study does not infringe copyright. â€œResearchâ€ must be given a large and liberal interpretation in order to ensure that users’ rights are not unduly constrained, and is not limited to non-commercial or private contexts.”
Read the full text of the decision here: http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2004/2004scc13/2004scc13.html