Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘ACTA

Why I Don’t Support the Humble Bundle

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my copyleft symbol

Even though I can’t be considered a gamer, I used to support the Humble Indie Bundle, because it supported free software and independent creators, and made it possible for creators to realize that a locked down patent encumbered copyright driven world was not the only option.

But even as free software and free culture supporters flocked to buy Humble Bundles, and incidentally made the Humble Indie Bundle wildly successful, somewhere along the line, the word “Indie” fell by the wayside, and they expanded into publications as well as games. But when they introduced a Microsoft bundle, it became apparent the people running this initiative weren’t as committed to the principals they espoused as they would like us to believe.

Unsubscribing from their mailing list but it doesn’t seem to work, so today I was horrified to receive a mailing for their new offering: The Humble Star Wars Comics Bundle.

I grew up with Star Wars; it has had a profound cultural impact on me. And all of the contemporary culture I grew up with is firmly locked up in copyright. Before I understood how copyright works, I actually thought Sonny Bono was a hero for championing more restrictive copyright law. But I’ve lived through the aftermath, and now I know better.

These days, I don’t go out of my way to find new copyrighted works. The only exception I make is for Independents… I will go to the local music festivals, and buy Indie CDs to support the artists. Funny thing, though; I almost never play them. Oh sure, I have lots of movies on DVD, and I even buy new ones, on occasion; and them only ever from remainder bins, because I think the worst thing we can do is to support the corporations that work so hard to strangle our culture.
So even though both my cultural history and my head are full of copyright encumbered creative works, I don’t need any more.

I do realize that not all Free Software supporters are equally committed to free culture. I will always disagree with Free Software champion Richard Stallman’s position on free culture, because it suggests free culture is somehow less important than free software. And The Humble Star Wars Comics Bundle proves me right.

Star Wars stopped being a creative work a long time ago: these days it isn’t a movie, it’s a “franchise.” And poor George Lucas was so desperate for a few billion dollars that he sold his franchise to Disney.  Disney is certainly the corporation most invested in the pursuit of perpetual copyright, the driving force behind the MPAA’s perpetual lobbying for increasingly onerous (and the criminalization of) copyright law — not only with the American government, but with any government it thinks it can influence. So we’ve seen laws like SOPA and secretive International Trade Agreements like ACTA being pushed and passed. Oh sure, Europeans took to the streets over ACTA anf the EU turned it down.   And around the world, Wikipedia led a fight against SOPA and it was stopped.  Sort of.

But.

Lots of other countries (like my own Canada) went ahead and passed ACTA anyway.  And there is no end to secret trade Agreements.  All the worst things are coming to pass.   Frankly, I would rather be writing a novel than this.   If things were left to muddle along at their own pace (as would happen if that mythic “free market” actually existed) I have no doubt that free culture would win in the end.  But those powerful special interests aren’t willing to run the risk of that happening. They aren’t willing to live and let live, their goal is total control.

And corporations have an unfair advantage in their war on human beings; they don’t get tired, and they can pursue their goals 24/7. And politicians, especially the unaccountable politicians common in winner-take-all “democracies” like ours, are easily influenced by such powerful special interests.

And our biggest failing is that we humans have other things to occupy us. You know, frivolous things, like raising our families, feeding our children, and sometimes even creating and sharing our own cultural works.

Which is why the too powerful corporate Special Interests are winning… far from being truly defeated, the worst things about CISPA and ACTA keep coming back.

And the formerly humble indie bundle is supporting this.  But I can’t.  And if you care about freedom, you shouldn’t either.

The Battle of Copyright - CC-By 2.0 Christopher Dombres


Image Credits
My own Copyleft Logo for this blog (the copyleft symbol over my Russwurm Social “LR” monogram) is CC0

The Battle of Copyright” by Christopher Dombres, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

[Also:Thanks Charles!]

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm

WIPO and EU and Libraries ~ Oh My!

with 2 comments

Like most people, I’ve spent most of my life not actually thinking about copyright law. I bought into the idea that copyright “protects” creative works and encourages creativity. At least I did until I started actually thinking about copyright law when I sat down to write my submission to the Canadian Government’s Copyright Consultation. That was when I first began to question copyright. Over the years since, I have found less to like and more to dislike about copyright law.

A large part of the problem is that governments take advice and direction from copyright “experts” who represent the special interests that would benefit from perpetual copyright. So the industry that will benefit from increased copyright have been invited to the table, but for the most part no one is asking, let along listening to the public. Every expansion of the copyright monopoly comes at the expense of the public interest by eroding the public domain. Cultural works used to come into the Public Domain within our lifetimes, but that is no longer the case. When copyright terms extend for as many as a hundred years after the death of the creator, our own culture is increasingly outside our grasp.

copyright chainsBecause the public domain should be protected, and free culture should be shared, I very much support the work done by the good people involved in the OpenGLAM initiative (run by the Open Knowledge Foundation) that promotes free and open access to digital cultural heritage held by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. These institutions exist to promote art, culture, history and heritage, so it’s a big problem if copyright law prevents them from achieving their mission. In many respects, because these cultural institutions exist to serve the public, they are increasingly standing up for the public interest.

The recent trend of copyright maximalists has been to take copyright discussions away from lawmakers and out of the public view, instead cloaking international copyright negotiations in secret trade agreements. One of the stunning things about the secret ACTA negotiations was the exclusion of elected government representatives from even knowing the terms of the treaties being discussed. Once such treaties are signed, naturally lawmakers are pressured to rewrite domestic law to accommodate the treaty.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has been working to make sure the needs of Libraries are taken into consideration at WIPO. Unfortunately the EU seems more interested in supporting corporate special interests than the public interest.

EU flag“The EU made no attempt to address the wide range of problems, particularly relating to non-commercial cross-border activities, identified by library and archive NGOs. It seems to value only internal commercial interests, ignoring and its own interests in culture and research.”
— Mr. Tim Padfield, speaking on behalf of the International Council on Archives (ICA)

As Mr. Padfield suggests, the human rights and cultural needs of the world should be be addressed and protected, not cast aside to support commercial special interests.

The following is a press release issued by the The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)

EU REJECTS INTERNATIONAL SOLUTION TO LIBRARY AND ARCHIVE COPYRIGHT PROBLEMS;
CAUSES COLLAPSE OF WIPO MEETING

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Discussions by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR) broke down in the early hours of Saturday morning 3 May, after the European Union (EU) attempted to block future discussion of copyright laws to aid libraries and archives fulfill their missions in the digital environment.

Library and archive delegations from Europe, Latin America, Australia, the United States, Canada and the UK attended the 27th meeting of the SCCR from 28 April – 2 May 3014, to push for an international treaty to help libraries and archives preserve cultural heritage, facilitate access to essential information by people wherever they are in the world.

The meeting ended in disarray at 1:30am on Saturday morning, after the EU tried to have crucial references to “text-based” work on copyright exceptions removed from the meeting conclusions – a move viewed by other Member States and library and archive NGOs present as an attempt to delay, if not derail, any progress on copyright exceptions at WIPO.

Dr. Stuart Hamilton, Deputy Secretary General of the International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions (IFLA) commented:

“For the past three years, Member States have been looking at draft texts on copyright exceptions for libraries and archives. The EU is now trying to pretend these don’t exist. We’re frustrated, and deeply disappointed. It appears the EU came to WIPO with one goal in mind: to kill the discussion.”

The EU’s attempt to sideline discussion of copyright exceptions at WIPO is particularly concerning in light of the ongoing review of copyright laws at the EU level.

Dr Paul Ayris, President of LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries, expressed his disappointment:

“The position taken by the EU delegation in Geneva contrasts strongly with current discussions at European level, where it has been recognised that copyright exceptions for libraries are essential, and must be harmonised in order to facilitate international research and innovation in the age of Science 2.0. The conservative position taken at SCCR 27 in Geneva this week is therefore deeply disappointing. It does not support research and education and hampers European researchers in their use of new tools and services.”

The SCCR has been discussing a possible legal instrument to safeguard copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives since 2009. It is due to submit recommendations to the WIPO General Assembly in September 2014.

“We must act now, and engage at WIPO to make sure the EU and other developed countries know just how inadequate copyright laws are for libraries and archives in the digital, global world,” said Dr. Stuart Hamilton.

Ellen Broad
Manager, Digital Projects & Policy (IFLA)

Book Shelf ~ Kelly Library

Additional quotes

“Libraries in developing and transition countries seek a level playing field to provide people with information needed for education, research and development. Talks at WIPO, where international copyright law is shaped, must urgently get back on track to advance the goal of equal access to knowledge for all.”

— Ms Teresa Hackett,
Electronic Information for Libraries IP Program

razor wire

“In Europe we have introduced a mandatory copyright exception specifically to enable and promote cross-border online access to library and archive collections, and yet the EU delegation at the WIPO negotiations repeatedly denied the need for such solutions within an international context. For many, the EU’s position will smack of hypocrisy and economic self interest.”
— Professor Ronan Deazley,
Copyright Policy Adviser to Scottish Council on Archives

These Doors Are Locked

“We had just spent a productive week discussing several specific examples of legal inconsistencies and ambiguities that block archival preservation and service across borders. After all that valuable dialogue, it was heart-wrenching to see an elite sector at WIPO obstinately thwart efforts at a global solution to a global problem. It is also disappointing that the United States is not ready to assume a leadership role in working with the delegations of Brazil, Ecuador, India, Iran, Kenya, and others to craft a compromise. Nevertheless, those delegations showed that progress will not happen through unbalanced compromises, but by forthright adherence to a treaty that serves the world’s knowledge needs through the service of archives and libraries.”

— William Maher,
The Society of American Archivists (SAA)

NO TRESPASSING

“The EU’s hostility to any substantive discussions that might lead towards an international copyright treaty for the benefit of libraries and archives is reminiscent of its opposition to a treaty for the benefit of blind, visually impaired and print disabled people for most of the five years of talks that concluded in the Marrakesh Treaty 2013. Ironically, the EU signed the Marrakesh Treaty at the same WIPO meeting last week where it sought to wreck discussions concerning libraries and archives.”

— Ms Barbara Stratton,
representative of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

Don't Lock Up Our Culture!


Image Credits
With the exception of Nina Paley‘s copyright jail graphic (she has deeded to the Public Domain) that I remixed into my book jail, all images in this article are my own, and as such are released with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Although WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) has a published Flickr photostream I didn’t use any of them, since all of these images are Copyright All Rights Reserved, not licensed to share.

The Third of May

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Laurel holds a "Free to Blog" sign with the hashtags #WPFD and #PressFreedomUnesco‘s “World Press Freedom Day 2013” is promoting the idea that people need to be able to use social media for freedom of expression, whether it’s on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Vkontakte, Tencent, Identi.ca, or blogs.  Many people don’t know that they should be free and safe to blog, to upload pictures, to watch online video., or that the freedom to receive & impart information & ideas through any media is promised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As the western free press buckles under the control and demands of powerful special interests, the Internet has made citizen journalism possible just when we need it most. Unfortunately, sometimes people engaging in social media are targeted by repressive regimes.

In Canada, Byron Sonne’s Charter rights were violated by police, and charges were laid against him for posting photographs on Flickr and tweeting concerns about the billion dollar “security theatre” being staged in Toronto for the Toronto G20.  He was punitively denied bail for almost a year, and when finally granted bail it was under onerous conditions, so he was effectively a political prisoner for nearly two years.

In Syria, Internet activist Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for over a year, without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.

Since March 15, 2012, our colleague and friend Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria, held without charges and not allowed legal representation. Bassel is an open-source coder and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons program. He believes in the open Internet, and has spent the last ten years using open technologies to improve the lives of Syrians. Not only did Bassel build the CC program in his country; he worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.”

Catherine Casserly

Bassel needs to be #FreeToBlog again... Syrian Free Culture advocate has been held for more than a year without charges.

Syrian Free Culture advocate Bassel needs to be free to blog, not imprisoned without charges.

Around the world, we’re seeing increased restrictions on free speech as the breadth of copyright laws have been expanded to allow censorship, and we face an unending barrage of laws like SOPA and CISPA that allow government and corporate incusrions into our personal privacy, and trade agreements like ACTA and CETA.

Unesco is promoting the free exchange of ideas & knowledge that is possible with social media, and wants everyone to have a voice and be able to speak freely and in safety, no matter where they are in the world.

There is a growing awareness that ensuring freedom of expression must also necessarily extend to safety online. World Press Freedom Day 2013 focuses on the theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight, in particular, on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for online safety.”

Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media

Which dovetails nicely with the fact today is also the International Day Against DRM.  If DRM becomes a built in part of the HTML5, any hope of a free and open Internet will be lost.

Banner that can be used on facebook

DRM restricts the public’s freedom, even beyond what overzealous copyright law requires, to the perceived benefit of this privileged, powerful few.”

Letter to the W3C

DRM is “Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management” ~ either way it is “Technological Protection Measures” employed in the proprietary software and hardware we purchase.  DRM controls how we can use our digital media and devices.

This year the W3C is in the process of hammering out the new standard for HTML5, the language that the Internet is written in.  Some of the biggest, most powerful Internet corporations are trying to pressure the W3C to write DRM into the specifications. Adding DRM to HTML would cause a host of problems for freedom and interoperability on the Web, and we need to build the grassroots movement against it. Nobody except these big corporations want this change to the core of the Web, but most of the Web users that it would affect don’t know about the issue yet.”

Defective By Design: We Oppose DRM

Any DVD player would be able to play any DVD in the world but for region encoding, one example of DRM.  If you move to a different region, don’t plan on bringing along your DVD collection, because it won’t play there.  DRM is often employed to “protect” digital copies that are under copyright.

Corporations like DRM because it can be used to tie us in to their proprietary products — we need to buy this type of game machine to continue to use the games we’ve already purchased — or buy ink cartridges even though the ones in the printer aren’t actually empty but because the DRM says the ink is past it’s best-before date — or purchase the same music over and over again as digital media wears out or the device is declared obsolete.

A specification designed to help companies run secret code on users’ computers to restrict what they do on the Web would severely undermine that trust. “

Letter to the W3C

Nothing is stopping these big companies from deploying DRM on their websites now, with the exception of consumer choice.  But if DRM is written into the HTML5 Specifications, DRM will become the default, and consumers will lose the few choices we have now.  It will become harder to free our devices and ourselves from the shackles of DRM.  And I rather expect it will have the unfortunate side effect of breaking the Internet.

No DRM for the Internet

You’re welcome to use my Day Against DRM Facebook Cover, my Day Against DRM Twitter Banner or the square “Don’t DRM the Internet” avatar.


Image Credits
Bassel Khartabil by Kristina Alexanderson released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License

Map of the Internet – photo by the Opte Project released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 1.0) License

Both social media banners, Day Against DRM Facebook cover and Day Against DRM Twitter Banner incorporate the Opte Project Internet Map, tand so are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) License

Copyright Update: C-11 and ACTA

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Canadian DMCA logo

Fortunately Bill C-11 has not yet become law.

Yet.

Unfortunately it is only a matter of time before our majority government passes this misguided “copyright modernization” legislation currently called Bill C-11.

[This is the exact same law that was called Bill C-32 by the previous Conservative Government. Earlier incarnations were known as Bill C-61: An Act to amend the Copyright Act (by the Conservatives), and Bill C-60: An Act to amend the Copyright Act (by the Liberals).]

Although Canadians have mounted waves of opposition against each succeeding incarnation of a “Canadian DMCA,” both Liberal and Conservative Canadian Governments have attempted to pass copyright legislation that’s clearly against Canadian interests.   Initially there was only supposition that the various drafts of a “Canadian DMCA” were produced in response to American pressure.  After all, the USTR has been spreading misinformation about supposed Canadian piracy for years, in spite of the fact that the American DMCA has not stopped American digital piracy levels from being far higher than ours.   Thanks to Wikileaks it is no longer an unsubstantiated guess: the Canadian government wants only to pass a Copyright Law that will make the American Government happy.

Four different Canadian Governments led by our two traditional ruling parties have tried to accomplish this, the previous efforts failed due to a combination of opposition and politics.

But this time it is different: our majority Conservative Government can pass anything it likes.

The only possible way to stop it is for public outcry.  The problem is that most Canadians still don’t know this is happening or why it is important or what it will do.  The mainstream media coverage has not helped raise awareness because their corporate masters have a vested interest; after all, the MPAA and RIAA (through its branch plant formerly known as CRIA) have a very long reach.

TPM, DRM, Digital Locks

DRM technologies attempt to give control to the seller of digital content or devices after it has been given to a consumer. For digital content this means preventing the consumer access, denying the user the ability to copy the content or converting it to other formats. For devices this means restricting the consumers on what hardware can be used with the device or what software can be run on it.

Wikipedia: Digital rights management

The single reason that Bill C-11 will be so devastating is that it sets TPM (Technical Protection Measures) as the most powerful element of Canadian copyright law.   TPMs (also known as copy protection) are the main weapon used in the DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) arsenal, and are commonly referred to as “Digital Locks” in Canada.

Whatever you call it, it will be terrible for Canadians.   It won’t matter if a person has legally purchased a copy of an eBook,  game, a movie or music, if Canadians need to circumvent TPMs in order to read, play watch or listen to our own legal copies, we will be breaking the law.  If I want to watch a movie DVD on my Linux computer, I won’t be able to.  Linux users will be forced to switch to Apple or Windows operating systems of they want to watch their DVDs.  If I want to format shift any digital media I’ve purchased so that it will play on the device of my choosing, I won’t be able to without breaking the law.

Does this mean it will be illegal to have my printer’s ink cartridges refilled with off brand ink? Probably. I was foolish enough to buy a printer that has computer chips in its printer cartridges. The chip tells the printer not to work because a certain amount of ink has been used or the printer cartridge is too old. Bypassing that programming may well be considered circumvention of the manufacturer’s technical protection measures. After all, to be protected under the new Bill C-11 Copyright Law, TPMs won’t have to be tied to any actual copyright infringement or criminal wrongdoing.

This is not a good thing for consumers.

Once this law is passed, I imagine that it will be only a matter of time before every digital device and most software destined for the Canadian market will be tightly locked in DRM.  Further, as a self publishing Canadian writer, my further concern is also that digital locks may well be used to limit distribution of my own work.

Why did Canada sign ACTA?

The speed with which digital innovation and the Internet have set the world on end is unprecedented; even Malcolm Gladwell, one of Canada’s brightest sons doesn’t get it. So I’m inclined to think that the largest problems is that most of our government doesn’t understand the issues.

It is unreasonable to expect elected officials to understand everything. They are only human, after all, and so they can’t. What they must do, is to find out about each issue as it arises, and the fastest way to do this is to consult with the experts. The problem that has arisen is that the experts governments the world over rely on when forging laws to govern this new technology are the mainstream media. And the mainstream media has a clear and present interest in both copyright and and controlling technological innovation.

It is very possible that C-11 is intended as a law to allow Canadian compliance with the dreadful ACTA Trade Agreement.

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo

ACTA is one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet. ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an agreement secretly negotiated by a small “club” of like-minded countries (39 countries, including the 27 of the European Union, the United States, Japan, etc). Negotiated instead of being democratically debated, ACTA bypasses parliaments and international organizations to dictate a repressive logic dictated by the entertainment industries.

ACTA, a blueprint for laws such as SOPA and PIPA, would impose new criminal sanctions forcing Internet actors to monitor and censor online communications. It is thus a major threat to freedom of expression online and creates legal uncertainty for Internet companies. In the name of trademarks and patents, it would also hamper access to generic medicines in poor countries.”

La Quadrature Du Net

Although Canadian negotiators were included in the secret ACTA treaty negotiations, sitting members of parliament and the public were deliberately kept in the dark as to what ACTA was about. Although ACTA is supposed to stand for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agrement” the prime reason for its secrecy was the copyright law provisions.

Among those who are aware of ACTA, its agenda is believed to be that of the American movie and music industries. These Industries have been investing unprecedented amounts of time and money in attempts to coerce sovereign nations around the world to enact copyright laws beneficial to their special interests.

In spite of the fact that the final round of ACTA negotiations failed to achieve consensus in the secret negotiations, some time later Canada went ahead and signed the treaty anyway. The European Parliament signed ACTA a few days after the SOPA protest, but it must pass a plenary vote this summer before it will be official.

Oh! Canada: Memo to World: Stop ACTA Now!

Stop The Canadian DMCA

NO Canadian DMCACopyright law has always been concerned with Intellectual Property, but Bill C-11 strays into the realm of physical property. A law that prevents citizens from making personal use of our own legally purchased media on the digital devices of our choices strays beyond the realm of intellectual into the realm of physical property. Making all circumvention illegal is equivalent to putting citizens in jail for breaking into our own home of we’ve inadvertently locked ourselves out.

Bill C-11 is *not* in the Canadian interest.

More information can be found in my Oh! Canada article
“Bill C-11 Backgrounder: A Brief History of the Canadian DMCA” and What to do about Bill C-11 ?

Technical Aspects: check Russell McOrmond’s Conservative Copyright Bill C-11

Legal Aspects: Michael Geist – latest post includes the video short Strombo’s Soapbox: My Take on Bill C-11

Bill C-11 Status

Keep up with the status of this problematic draft legislation by checking LEGISinfo.

ACTA is…

with 4 comments

I have written a lot about ACTA mostly in my other blogs. But this little film distills it’s into an easily digestible morsel which beautifully explains what the fuss is all about.

It’s important to spread the word.

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo

ACTA Stop the Kraken

For free software users I’ve loaded the highest quality
ogv version I could get here

along with a smaller version here.

And this is the transcript of the text from the film.

Or you can watch it on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlFyoEKV0dE

[Thanks Wayne & ppi!]



OGG transfers via TinyOGG
Released under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License (CC by-nc-sa)
Credits:
Video & Audio: Anonymous
Music by Wasaru – New Andromeda Theory



Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

September 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Why CanCon Hurts Canadian Culture [part 1]

with 13 comments

Canadian Music

Maple Leaf

Canadian Content regulations haven’t turned out so well for Canadian Culture. In the music industry, Canadian Content – called “Cancon” – is indicated on a recording by way of the MAPL symbol which appears on the record album dust jacket or CD tray card to indicate the percentage of Canadian Content per recording.

Elements of any recording are broken into four segments:
M is for the composer of the Music
A is for the Artist
P is for the Performance recorded in Canada, or performed and broadcast live in Canada
L is for the composer of the Lyrics.

performing live in the Ontario Place Forum

MAPL symbol, black M and L on white field, White A and P on black field

If I am a Pirate King was recorded by the Canadian acapella group The Nylons in Canada, it could only claim 50% Canadian Content.

25% for the Nylons themselves as Canadian principal Artists, 25% for Performance– recording it in our home and native land. But non-Canadians Gilbert and Sullivan wrote the Lyrics & Music.

Four segments of the circle in black, all white letters

Michael Kaeshammer on stage seated at piano When Michael Kaeshammer records his own compositions in Canada, the recording would be considered 100% Canadian Content. Yet there is no MAPL designation at all on the Michael Kaeshammer Lovelight CD I bought last year at a jazz festival. Why wouldn’t an internationally renowned Canadian performer want a MAPL designation?

The MAPL designation signalling 100% Canadian Content could in fact devalue the product.

So What’s the problem?

The very existence of Canadian Content regulations indicates a lack of confidence that Canadian Content can compete in Canada on the basis of merit alone.

CanCon quotas assume that not only would Canadian DJs choose not to play Canadian music, but Canadians consumers wouldn’t willingly listen to it either.

CanCon rules tell the world that Canadian content is so bad that the only way anything Canadian made can get Canadian radio air play or TV exposure is if it is government mandated.

That message is simply not true.

As many great Canadian acts show, Canadian Music is quite capable of competing globally. Both at home and abroad, Canadian artists have created a great deal of wonderful music over the years.

the blue Twitter bird logoCurrently a 15 year old Canadian boy named Justin Bieber is continuously “Top Trending” on Twitter. (For the uninitiated that means there are so many people “tweeting” about him that his name is on the Twitter front page banner.

Twitter text logohas millions of users worldwide. This is an indicator of extreme fame and a fanatical fan following. In the few minutes since I began typing the Justin Bieber portion of the article, the Twitter Justin Bieber page has racked up more than six thousand Tweets. Since Bieber’s fan base is young girls, and I’m writing this on a Friday morning, there is a very good chance that a many of these tweets are being generated in classrooms.

Justin Bieber's Web Page

Justin Bieber’s Web Page

Granted some of the Tweet traffic consists of people hoping to catch the Justin Bieber wave to get their tweets ReTweeted, and some of it is trashing the young R&B performer. There are whole web pages devoted to dissing the entertainer — now that’s fame. Weirdly enough a good bit of anger is directed at him because all these very young girls swooning over him… Unlike geriatric rock stars young girls have swooned over for years, Justin Bieber is an appropriate age. OMG, he’s not 15 he’s really an old man of 16! But you know what they say– “no publicity is bad publicity”. And the Twitter trend proves it: even those dissing Justin Bieber are adding to the tweets that are keeping him on the top of the heap.

Ye gods! Even Google has a Latest Results for Justin Bieber live feed.

YouTube Superstar

Mural portrays Elizabeth ISo really: who is Justin Bieber? He’s a performer from Stratford Ontario (a small Ontario town, formerly most famous for being the home of the world famous Stratford Shakespeare Festival),

Legend (and Wikipedia) has it that Bieber’s Mom began posting his home made music videos on You Tube to share with family members in 2007. (As an internet savvy mom myself, I’m willing to bet she knew exactly what she was doing.)

Three years later Justin Bieber is a superstar.

Justin Bieber is of course a prime example of my point: Canadians are talented, and given a level playing field can certainly make it in the world of arts & entertainment. The Internet is levelling that playing field, by making it possible for artists to find their audiences. And although I am making the case for talented Canadian artists, the Internet provides the same opportunity to artists in every country around the world, because the Internet breaks down distribution barriers. And as any artist knows, the lively arts do not exist in a vacuum.

Granted, I’m decades older than Justin Bieber‘s target audience, but I will admit that although I have seen the name I had no idea who he was until I saw someone mention he was a Canadian musician on Twitter today. I only mention this because THAT is what the Internet can do.

DRM artificially imposes regionality on DVDs

British pressed DVDs are unplayable on a Canadian DVD player, as Canadian pressed DVDs are unplayable in the UK. Consumers accepted this at first, since the NTSC and PAL video tape formats were incompatable most of us assumed that was just the way it was. The reality is that regional encoding, the DRM that restricts where you may play the DVD you have bought is a DRM additive. Your DVDs would play on every DVD player were it not for the DRM. (My guess is that the reason consumers have so much trouble burning DVDs that will play on DVD players is due to DRM as well. I had to buy two different commercial software packages before I was able to burn my home movies to DVD.)

The Internet allows music or movies released online to be seen and heard everywhere. This is the ultimate distribution network, which will be good not just for our artists, but all the artists who make use of the distribution methods available here.

politics

Locking down the Internet with bad laws like the UK Digital Economy Bill, the American DMCA and bad treaties like CETA and A.C.T.A. is intended to stop this Internet distribution revolution in its tracks. This is why the big media corporations are pushing for these laws: so that they resume total control of the international distribution. For the past fifty years or so they have been the “gatekeepers” who decided what artists could have the opportunity to find an audience. They held this power because they controlled the major distribution for the entire world, not because they had any particular ability to discover or promote talented acts. Citizens are beginning to fight back through initiatives like The Wellington Declaration because a free Internet is incalculably valuable to us all.

World Famous Canadian Musicians

The following is just a very small sampling of the many Canadians who have shared their music and our culture around the world.

Unfortunately many of these websites are flash dependent which will make them inaccessible to a lot of people. I was particularly impressed with Paul Anka’s site, which offers flash or non-flash versions. If you’re interested in finding out more about these artists, all are featured in Wikipedia and included on the Wikipedia: List of Canadian musicians which doesn’t scratch the surface of great Canadian artists.

The problem with Cancon is that it creates a self fulfilling prophecy.

When radio or TV stations are forced to adhere to a quota system, they will follow it because they must, but the moment the quota is filled, the door slams shut. They certainly are not going to exceed the Canadian content quota.

MAPL

Under the Commercial Radio Policy, 35 per cent of all music aired each week on all AM and FM stations must be Canadian. In addition, 35 per cent of music broadcast between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday must consist of Canadian content.

Canadian Content Rules (Cancon), Media Awareness Network

The easiest way for any broadcaster to manage filling this quota is to ghettoize Canadian music identified as MAPL. Segregating your 35% Cancon in a separate area makes it easier to ensure that you will meet the quota. Once this onerous task is done, you can now play what you WANT to play. Since broadcasters are forced to play Cancon, it is unlikely they will ever exceed the quota.

That’s why so many of today’s independent Canadian Artists are deliberately NOT identifying their music as MAPL.

Do the math. 100% Canadian content allows Canadian musicians a shot at 35% of the Canadian dial. Is it any wonder that more and more Canadian musicians are not stamping their work with the stigmatizing “MAPL” label?

Without the Canadian content MAPL designation, suddenly 65% of the dial is open for your music.

Canadian Independents are making use of the Internet to distribute their music internationally. When you’re making your tracks available for download, MAPL isn’t an issue. And if you’re selling CDs internationally MAPL may well be a handicap.

maple leaf leaning left[I’ve been working hard on my novel which is part of why this article has taken so long. The other part is that it has been growing… since the draft was pushing 4,000 words– long even for me– I decided to break it down into manageable segments.

[Novel permitting, I hope to publish Why CanCon Hurts Canadian Culture [part 2] Canadian Film & Television next week.]

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Canadian Copyright is a Canadian Affair

with 6 comments

Copyright symbol with maple leafIt seems that the pressure by the American copyright lobby to dictate Canadian Copyright law is again mounting.   Of course I’ve been trying to work on my novel and so didn’t realize this was happening.

My first inkling was a Michael Geist tweet:

michaelgeist EFF & PK warn against using USTR Special 301 process to sanction countries for not implementing ACTA http://bit.ly/cBtQvV

Nutshell: The United States Trade Representative (USTR) creates a “watch list” of countries who fail to provide “adequate and effective” protection of intellectual property rights or denial of “fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.”

The idea is that if you don’t play nice with American IP, all the other countries hear about it.

Apparently the very powerful American Copyright Lobby has a history of applying pressure to the USTR to include countries based on allegations rather than any proof, in an attempt to coerce countries like Canada to make or laws beneficial to these American corporations.

Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a joint comment to the USTR Consultation outlining many instances of the misapplication of these sanctions.

The American Trade Act defines “adequate and effective protection” as the refusal of the country to provide means under its laws for foreign nationals to exercise and enforce their IP rights.

It considers a country to have denied market access if its laws or regulations violate provisions of international agreements to which both the U.S. and that foreign country are parties or if the law or regulation constitutes a discriminatory non-tariff barrier.   Thus, a country should be considered to provide adequate and effective IP protection and fair and equitable market access for these purposes if it complies with its existing international obligations and provides foreign rights-holders with a means under its domestic law to enforce their rights or seek access to its markets.

Failure to sign international agreements does not per se mean the country has failed to provide adequate and effective protection for U.S. rights-holders’ intellectual property.   This is also consistent with the principle of national sovereignty, a foundational principle of the modern world order, which recognizes a country’s freedom to choose international instruments to which it will be bound.”

— COMMENTS of PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE and the
ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION
in the Matter of 2010 Special 301 Review:
Identification of Countries Under Section 182 of The Trade Act of 1974
http://bit.ly/cBtQvV

Reading through the PK and EFF comments all I can say is that I for one am very glad that they are out there working to protect the internet for all.

Michael Geist has often said that Canada already has very tough Intellectual Property law, and IP lawyer Howard Knopf tells us exactly why in his Excess Copyright blog post The “Annual 310 Show” – USTR Calls for Comment – 21 Reasons why Canadian Copyright Law is Already Stronger than U.S.A.’s

I made use of PK’s handy online form to submit my comments as a private Canadian citizen, and although it was a tad past the deadline, it was accepted. I thought it particularly important since our own Canadian Government elected not to make a submission.

I realize that our legislature is currently prorogued, but that isn’t slowing down Canadian participation in the ultra-secret A.C.T.A. trade negotiation. In fact, if Canada is singled out here by the USTR it would simply provide more leverage to coerce Canada into signing the A.C.T.A. agreement, no matter how dreadful.

RE: 2010 Special 301 Review
Docket Number USTR-2010-0003

Jennifer Choe Groves
Senior Director for Intellectual Property and
Innovation and Chair of the Special 301 Committee
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508
Filed electronically via Regulations.gov

Dear Ms. Groves:

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) must not allow rights holders to use this proceeding to force sovereign nations to impose overzealous restrictions on their citizens and interfere with our civil liberties or diminish our global standing.

Whatever happened to the American spirit of liberty, and vaunted dedication to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The USTR must recognize the importance of balanced intellectual property law to innovation and free expression. The provision for innovation and free expression is necessary for culture to exist.

The USTR must demand rights holders support claims of infringement and loss with verifiable data following standards of proof and the rule of law.

Unsubstantiated accusations can be made in error, or just as easily made spuriously by entities who are not even the rights holders as a means of suppressing free speech.

The United States will lose global credibility by continuing ton this slippery slope.

The United States does not have the right to dictate Canada’s specific structure of domestic laws. Your rights holders’ demands for increasing criminal penalties, prison terms, fines, and liability have no place here as we have the sovereign right to determine our own limitations and exceptions to copyright.

Canadian Copyright law is robust, in many ways stronger than your own as explained in esteemed Canadian Intellectual Property lawyer Howard Knopf’s blog: http://excesscopyright.blogspot.com/2010/02/annual-301-parade-ustr-calls-for.html

As a Canadian Citizen and a writer I hope the USTR follows the law not the lobbyists.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm

canadian flag

a sovereign nation

American Flag

follow the laws not the lobbyists

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