Posts Tagged ‘Bill C-32’
Forget that TPMs/DRM/Digital Locks have radically shifted the foundations of property law … legal precedents that have evolved over centuries.
Or that Bill C-11 will make circumventing digital locks illegal. Even when copyright is not being infringed, so Canadians can be prevented from using/watching/playing/reading the software, movie, music or book that we have legally purchased. It will even be possible for manufacturers to prevent us from accessing works that are in the public domain.
Don’t worry that C-11 has within it the legal authority to stifle innovation, and worse, impede Canadian Independent production by raising artificial barriers. Artificially making it difficult or impossible for Canadian creators to self publish our own work.
The worst thing about digital locks is that most people don’t even know they exist and worse,
most Canadians won’t even realize they are breaking the law.
Although I dislike polls on principal, I did a few this past week to try to get a handle on the the issue. So I asked a “question” on Facebook, and got a few replies before deciding to give PollDaddy a try. I asked the same set of questions in both places so would be able to combine the results.
Keeping it simple the first question was “Do you know what DRM is?”
DRM has been getting a bit of press every year. Even so, nearly 30% of my respondants don’t know what DRM is.
Although self publishing authors have been able to choose whether or not our digital editions would be encumbered by DRM for some time now, most mainstream publishers have routinely applied DRM to all their offerings. Baen Books has been publishing DRM free for 13 years, and J.K.Rowling‘s Harry Potter ebooks were launched DRM free through her Pottermore site earlier this year. Just this week science fiction publisher TOR announced that it would be going DRM free.
DRM stands for “Digital Rights Management,” although I’ve also read “Digital Restrictions Management” and “Dishonest Relationship Misinformation,” all of which refer to digital controls placed on media and devices that control how the consumers who purchase them can use them.
The right to read – publishers who drop DRM
Imagine if each book in your library had a padlock with a different key for every single book. DRM – Digital Rights Management or Digital Restriction Management – are such padlocks. Not the best library solution you have heard of? Well, you are beginning to get publishers on your side. eBooks published by science fiction publisher Tor UK drops DRM. Tor UK, Tor Books and Forge are divisions of Pan Macmillan. They are not alone – science fiction publisher Baen Books, genre publisher Angry Robots, and even J.K. Rowling offer her Harry Potter books DRM-free. If you know of other publishers, please add them below. Protecting the right to read, we need to encourage publishers who drop DRM and use the open ePub-format and buy our books at their stores.”
To understand why mainstream publishers are beginning to reject DRM read Charlie’s Diary: More on DRM and ebooks
My second Poll question was “Do You Know What Digital Locks Are?”
Anyone who has been following the Canadian government’s push for copyright reform will have been hearing and reading about digital locks for more than a decade. Canadian governments have been trying to change the Copyright Act since the American government passed the the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). The first attempt at a “Canadian DMCA” was the Liberal Bill C-60, and when the Conservative Party formed the subsequent government they carried the torch with Bill C-61, then C-32 and now C-11. But until now Canada has been blessed with minority governments. Unfortunately, now that we have a majority government determined to appease the Americans there is every reason to believe that this time it will pass, even though the majority of Canadians oppose the digital lock provisions.
And you guessed it, a “Digital Lock” is another way to describe “DRM.”
The final question in my poll was “Do you know what TPMs are?”
Bill C-11 doesn’t talk about DRM or Digital locks, but rather TPMs, which are “Technological Protection Measures”.
Technological Protection Measures take a step beyond digital locks, or DRM, because they encompass DRM/digital locks but can also be applied to non digital locks.
Some appliances or hardware are screwed closed with specialty screws that require proprietary screw drivers. Without the proper screwdrivers, these things can’t be opened to modify or repair them. Since this is a “technical protection measure”, it is reasonable to assume that Bill C-11 will make it illegal to repair any such equipment unless you have the proprietary tools.
This is a Poll
I’m not a professional pollster and my poll sample is very small. With only 22 responses, it isn’t very scientific poll. Still, it gives an idea. Because I’m a free culture advocate, a lot of the people who read my blogs or talk to me online, or even read my novel are going to be much more aware of these issues than the average Canadian. So I’m surprised; I would have expected more people to understand the terms. Or at least think they do.
77.27% said they don’t know what TPMs are.
[Correction of fact: "Technical Protection Measures" has been amended to the term used in Bill C-11 "Technological Protection Measures"]
Bill C-11, the so-called “Copyright Modernization Act” will not actually modernize Canadian copyright law.
Instead, if this law is passed as it stands, it will harm my interests as a creator, as well as Canadian culture and heritage.
I’m working hard to master eBook conversion of my debut novel, so I have been valiantly trying to avoid looking at what’s happening with Bill C-11 (an exact revival of Bill C-32, which was itself the Successor to Bill C-60, or Bill C-61). No matter what number, nor which political party is driving it, in every version this law has been a Canadian DMCA.
I became interested during the Canadian copyright consultation when an unprecedented number of Canadians responded to the Government’s call for input into the new draft copyright law. To be fair, this new incarnation actually does do some of the things that Canadians asked for. The problem is that it won’t matter because chances are good we will never be able to make use of these benefits because they will be blocked by what are sometimes called “digital locks”. Or Digital Rights Management (DRM), or Technical Protection Measures (TPM).
It doesn’t matter what you call it.
I thought you might be interested in the best summation of the worst problem with Bill C-11 [the emphasis is my own]:
… the keys to the locks are held by someone other than the owner that is what is locked.
It is not the owner of the copyright that has the keys (to the lock on the content or the lock on devices),
and it is not the owner of the device that has the lock on the device.
It is the device manufacturer and/or software distributor that controls the keys.
In any type of lock, digital or otherwise, it is the interests of the entity with the keys whose interests are protected.
— Russell McOrmond, Digital Copyright Canada: Bill C-11 debate day 1
This is what will make it far worse for Canadians and our culture than what American’s have had to cope with in the original DMCA.
It will be illegal to break the digital lock, even if you have the right to access the content. Bill C-11 will make digital locks the single most powerful element in Canadian copyright law. Copyright will be subjugated to software and device manufacturers. It won’t be publishing companies that decide what books Canadians can access, nor the writers or even the readers of those books.
The company that distributes the software or manufactures the device will hold the keys to copyright law.
January 31st, 2011
To: The Legislative Committee on Bill C-32 (CC32)
As a writer, one of the people copyright law is supposed to serve, I’m concerned with effects of Bill C-32 on my ability to use technology to create and disseminate my work.
I was willing to trade my creative sovereignty for the opportunity to have my work produced and distributed on television when I was young, because it was the only game in town. That was then. Today, advances in digital technology and the Internet have made a host of new options available to creators. And even though Canada’s current copyright law is problematic, Creative Commons has introduced work-arounds which make it possible for creators to release our “Intellectual Property” as we see fit.
Canada’s current copyright law is harmful to me as a creator, and there is evidence that it is harmful Canadian culture as a whole from aspects like copyright terms that are so long they are detrimental to both creator and public interest. Yet Bill C-32 doesn’t reduce copyright terms or protect the creator’s right to share.
There is also no justification for the existence of Crown Copyright in a democracy. Why doesn’t Bill C-32 follow the good American copyright example of releasing of government funded work directly into the public domain (on the understanding that taxpayers have already paid for it)?
Culture grows through sharing. It used to be Canadians bemoaned the lack of a Canadian “identity.” This cultural void was certainly tied in to the limited exposure Canadians had to our own culture since a few corporations controlled all of our culture.
Today’s combination of hardware, software, media devices, and the Internet makes it possible for creators to create and distribute our work directly to our audience. The new technology has been an incredible boon to both creators and consumers.
The independent Canadian music industry is ushering in an incredible golden age, in spite of the CD levy which penalizes independent creators. Canadians are leading the world with Independent music production and distribution. And nobody is looking for a “Canadian Identity” anymore since Canadian culture is thriving– through sharing– on the Internet. For the first time in more than half a century, Canadian musicians don’t have to sign away the rights to their music to get recorded and distributed.
Special Interest Groups
The major record labels find this a problem because as more musicians choose independence, the established record industry loses market share. CRIA used to own 99% of the recording industry. Now they’re lucky if they have 70% of it.
It’s a challenge for corporations. Historically it would have led to corporate adaptation or demise. Today’s conglomerates have instead chosen to influence legal change.
But copyright law should not be employed to force creators into unsatisfactory arrangements in an attempt to prop up an industry unwilling to adapt.
What is Copyright Law Supposed to Do?
Isn’t copyright supposed to recognize and support the creator’s authorship?
Where did the idea that copyright law was somehow responsible for monetizing the ‘intellectual property’ industry came from? It makes no sense at all. Isn’t it customary for Industry to establish business practices through negotiations and contracts?
If we are to accept this as a valid premise, and proceed to impose Bill C-32 legislation that runs contrary to societal expectation, why stop there? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to apply the same thinking to all other Canadian business endeavors? Instead of contracts and negotiation, the government could legislate precise terms for all industries. The government could set the rates of pay for each job, define the responsibilities. Is that what we want? I suspect we don’t. Why is copyright treated this way?
The needs and best interests of corporations are almost always very different from the needs and best interests of human creators. Copyright should not be transferable, certainly not to corporations. At most, corporations should be limited to licensing copyright for a limited time. A great many of the current problems with copyright law are directly attributable to undue influence of corporations and copyright collectives. We have seen little or no input or consideration for the two most important copyright stakeholders: creators and citizens.
Like corporations, the interests of copyright collectives can differ from the interests of the people who are members. But if membership needs would be better served by removal/reduction of the collective, the existing collective will work to ensure continued existence, even if it is contrary to the best interests of the membership.
Yet some copyright collectives have been vocal in claims they speak on behalf of their entire membership, while others have claimed to speak for all Canadian authors.
There has been copyright collective support for both the CD levy, as well as expansion of it, as well as opposition to the expansion of fair dealing in Bill C-32. That isn’t surprising because the collectives benefit financially from both of those misguided initiatives. That is my perspective as an independent writer, consumer and parent.
Technical Protection Measures, Digital Rights Management, Digital Locks
Regardless of what term you choose, digital locks should not fall under copyright jurisdiction for the simple reason that creators have no control over them.
As written in the current incarnation of Bill C-32, technical protection measures are the most important provision.
This effectively strips all authority from creators. Because creators– and most especially independent creators– don’t hold the keys to these locks.
As an independent writer I oppose digital locks that can be used against me.
Digital locks can be employed to prevent my utilization of digital media, devices or Internet protocols to distribute my work as I see fit.
The freedom technology has lately made available to creators will taken away by Bill C-32.
As a consumer I can’t support a law that allows digital locks to prevent citizens from legitimately using media and devices. It should be illegal for digital locks to impede access to digital material that is in the public domain.
Made In Canada?
Canadian cultural sovereignty should belong to creators, not corporations.
There have been some very persuasive arguments that Bill C32, like Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 before it, has been written to appease our American neighbors. In itself, sacrificing Canadian sovereignty to appease foreign interests would be problematic enough if Canadian copyright law were made to conform to the contours of the American DMCA.
Worse: Bill C-32′s digital locks go far beyond the terms of the American DMCA provisions, so it would not simply be a case of leveling the playing field, Bill C-32 as will effectively put Canadians at a distinct disadvantage.
Iceland is contemplating putting all Icelandic literature online to foster and spread their culture. I submit this would be a better model for copyright emulation than the American DMCA.
The American DMCA contains provisions for mandatory adjustment every three years, and over time it has in fact been lightened up as unintended consequences have been addressed. Yet Canada’s Bill C-32 simply contains a suggestion to look at it every five years. In terms of the speed of digital change, 5 year suggested revision term is horrendous. Bill C-32 would require annual review as a feature.
Copyright needs to be simple enough for all citizens to understand, because more and more people are participating in our shared culture. Many artists believe things must change. The existing law is too strong, but rushing to enact legislation as flawed as Bill C-32 because we are tired of copyright is not the answer.
There are many reasons to use Free-Libre Open Source software for our endeavors. Yet the primacy of digital locks will impede access to such software for all of us.
I want to be able to make my work freely available. My right to do so should not be sacrificed to special interests. Canadian copyright law must support all Canadian creators, even those of us who believe in the importance of sharing.
I cannot support Bill C-32 as it is.
Perhaps I could if you were to remove TPM/DRM/Digital locks altogether. Some people think amending the Bill to permit circumvention for lawful purposes would solve the problem. I disagree. I don’t think consumers should have to circumvent digital locks. If digital locks are applied, it must be up to the parties holding the keys to guarantee the locks will be opened for lawful purposes.
Thank you for the opportunity to be heard. I will of course post my comments to my personal blog. [ http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/ ]
Laurel L. Russwurm
CC: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper email: Harper.S@parl.gc.ca
CC: The Honourable Tony Clement email: Clement.T@parl.gc.ca>
CC: The Honourable James Moore email: Moore.J@parl.gc.ca
CC: The Honourable Michael Ignatieff email: Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca
CC: Legislative Committee Members
(Charlie Angus email: Angus.C@parl.gc.ca , Sylvie Boucher email: Boucher.S@parl.gc.ca , Peter Braid email: Braid.P@parl.gc.ca , Gordon Brown email: Brown.G@parl.gc.ca , Serge Cardin email: Cardin.S@parl.gc.ca , Dean Del Mastro email: DelMastro.D@parl.gc.ca , Marc Garneau email: Garneau.M@parl.gc.ca , Daryl Kramp email: Kramp.D@parl.gc.ca , Mike Lake email: Lake.M@parl.gc.ca , Carole Lavallée email: Lavallee.C@parl.gc.ca,
Dan McTeague email: McTeague.D@parl.gc.ca and Pablo Rodriguez email: Rodriguez.P@parl.gc.ca )
CC: Harold Albrecht email: Albrecht.H@parl.gc.ca
[Image Credit: the copyright jail from Question Copyright Sita Distribution Project remixed with my “Inconstant Moon” cover art by laurelrusswurm]
NOTE: although “published” I will be working on editing & adding to this post through the day.
Copyright is a big issue for me, and seems to crop up more often than not all through this, my personal blog.
Because of Bill C-32 and ACTA, my Oh! Canada blog also has an increasing number of copyright posts. And of course since copyright is being used to attack net neutrality, it also features in my tech issue blog StopUBB.
As my personal Software Freedom Day initiative I’ve decided to begin compiling a list of important information about copyright law. As a writer, I am passionately opposed to Bill C-32, the supposed copyright reform currently before the Canadian Government. Written as though by foreign special interest groups, if passed Bill C-32 will place horrendous barriers to Canadian artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, citizens, and students through it’s ironclad protection of DRM/TPM.
This law will make it possible to stop anyone who uses the Internet or other digital means to distribute/disseminate/share their own creative work. Currently 30% of the Canadian recording Industry is Independent of the big labels. This renaissance of Canadian culture could be stopped dead by Bill C-32. This is bad.
For me personally, passage of Bill C-32 would impede my ability to self publish and distribute my novel.
Copyright Links: Bill C-32
My initial StopUBB summary: Copyright Modernization Act: Bill C-32
One of the leading copyright authorities and resources is the University of Ottawa’s Professor Michael Geist who always makes available a good translations of copyright legalese that might be used to choke Canada’s creativity.
Russell McOrmond is my other leading source for copyright information and analysis although he’s not a lawyer, he is very knowledgable about copyright issues. McOrmond’s Digital Copyright provides a Conservative Copyright Bill C-32 page which guides visitors through the Copyright Bill C-32 issues.
Practicing Canadian IP Lawyer Howard Knopf provides insight into copyright law in his blog Excess Copyright
Like me, Wayne Borean is affected by copyright issues on a number of fronts. He’s been putting together some excellent material in the copyright segment of his blog Through the Looking Glass.
TechDirt always has lots of good coverage, but I particularly liked this one TechDirt: Canadian Music Industry Spokesperson Claims User Generated Content Supports ‘Piracy’ since this is what I believe to be the real purpose: to stop people from putting their own content online. The growth of independent creativity is cutting into the bottom line of powerful corporations.
Jesse Brown is a good resource in general; this copyright podcast highlights the idea that Canadians are tired of fighting the same issue over and over again.Search Engine with Jesse Brown: Audio Podcast #43: So Bored of Copyright
CBC online is the only mainstream news media to cover StopUBB issues. Along with the other mainstream media they seem willing to cover some of the Bill C-32 issue, although none of them seem willing to cover ACTA. I think C-32, the UK Digital Economy Act ( DEAct) and the American Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) are all “warm-up acts for ACTA. One of the key stumbling blocks to completing the ACTA negotiations is that each country will have to alter domestic law in order to be able to ratify it. The DEAct succeeded remarkably well in passing domestic law even worse than ACTA requires, which is why UK
It is disturbing that this has been revealed: Michael Geist: “We Don’t Care What You Do, As Long as the U.S. Is Satisfied”
One of the byproducts of laws like this one that have been playing out in the UK (Digital Economy Act) and the USA (DMCA) has been the rampant often specious lawsuits which often have no merit, but can be very profitable when used to extort people into settling them from fear. We can assume that this is one of the things Canadian will have to look forward to as well.
Of course since these negative effects have already happened as a direct result of the American DMCA and the UK DEA, should the Canadian government pass Bill C-32 it will be way past “unexpected” when the same effects ensue here.
Which is why I wanted to include this link The RIAA? Amateurs. Here’s how you sue 14,000+ P2P users
Why I don’t Like DRM: DRM is BAD
Thank you, Nina Paley, for this cartoon which made my day:
The Internet has changed the world faster than any other technological revolution in history.
corporate vs. creator copyright
When that obsolete stuff known as videotape was new, it, too, wreaked havoc. Suddenly movies and tv shows were being released on the new medium. But the big media companies felt no compulsion to actually share the new found wealth with the creators.
Some creators took issue with this, and fought it out in court. And courts duly ruled that creators were entitled to compensation from these new revenues.
Having written the music for the Disney classic “Lady and the Tramp,” Singer/songwriter Peggy Lee was at the forefront of the fight. Urban Legend has it the Disney company did not take the court decision very graciously and vowed not to release the popular children’s film again until after Peggy Lee’s death.
It doesn’t matter if the legend is true or not, it would be a reasonable business practice; a sound corporate strategy. Suppressing the work warns other would-be litigants about the economic risk of asserting their legal rights with the added bonus of imposition of artificial scarcity which inflates the value of the product when finally released.
To me it illustrates the difference between corporate and creator agendas, and in particular why corporations should never be allowed to hold copyright. Creative works of any kind, what human beings call art, are valued differently by human beings, while to a corporation, the only value of art is the bottom line.
enter the lawyers
Here in the Twenty First Century, Intellectual Property Law has become the “sexiest” area of the legal profession because it is both one of the most lucrative areas of law and the source of mind boggling power. IP law has been changing the world.
The primary changes to copyright and lawmaking have been driven by the big media interests.
Music, movies and television “rightsholders” have been driving the changes since those are some of the most lucrative forms of intellectual copyright product.
All the changes to Copyright Law over recent decades have been made to benefit corporations at the expense of both creators and culture; the rules of copyright have been quietly becoming madder and madder (as in the hatter).
writers and publishers
Ironically, although copyright began to provide incentive for the creation of literary works by making it possible for good writers make a living, the publishing industry has not been in the forefront of the current copyright war. The American book publishing industry was built on commercial piracy, more properly called bootlegging.
In the early days of twentieth century paperback novels sold for less than a dollar and writers were paid only a few pennies a word.
Nearing the end of the century I was surprised to learn that writers were still being paid mere pennies a word although paperback novels sold for upward of ten dollars.
The justification was always the great expense borne by the publisher. Printing and distribution costs rose with inflation while payment to the creators did not keep pace. Publishers impressed upon writers that demanding better pay would make books too expensive and lead to fewer books sold. Physical costs were tangible and so always managed to take precedent over the writer’s intangible creativity.
The 21st Century we have seen the introduction of ebooks. Digital books differ from physical books in one crucial way: they cost next to nothing to copy.
Yet customers have been conditioned to spend on the order of twenty dollars for a physical book. Naturally publishers have been happy to sell the average ebook in the ten dollar range. After set-up production costs are negligible, making the revenue stream approach 100% profit.
Amazingly, these same publishers begrudge any change in the royalty payments to the authors. Instead of sharing this good fortune with their writers, the golden egg laying geese of the publishing industry, most publishers have been trying on the same power grab movie companies tried with video: laying claim to legal rights they had not been granted.
One of the most compelling reasons I never seriously considered placing my novel with a traditional publishing house was the problem William Styron’s heirs had with the publisher.
Mr. Styron’s family believes it retains the rights, since the books were first published before e-books existed. Random House, Mr. Styron’s longtime publisher, says it owns those rights, and it is determined to secure its place — and continuing profits — in the Kindle era.
The discussions about the digital fate of Mr. Styron’s work are similar to the negotiations playing out across the book industry as publishers hustle to capture the rights to release e-book versions of so-called backlist books.
That was my tipping point. Would you trust this industry to do right by you? I wouldn’t. Given the choice, I’m not willing to hand over my creative work to traditional publishing. Particularly since this same digital revolution gives me choice: technology has made self publishing a valid and viable option.
The arrogance of publishers to assert claims to ebook rights by default– simply because they’d published traditional physical paper version– is ludicrous.
At issue is who holds digital rights in older titles published before the advent of ebooks. Publishers argue that the ebook rights belong to them, and authors and agents respond that, if not specifically granted, the digital rights remain with the author.
On Friday (June 23rd, 2010) the Wylie Agency shook the world
by taking a stand for authors and against the publishing houses. (And for themselves, never forget that. Wylie has launched a whole new business here; this may well be straying into anti-trust waters.)
This Literary Agency is setting up the Odessey Books imprint under which they will release older works as ebooks; specifically books whose digital rights have not been signed over to the physical publishers.
The publishers who believed themselves entitled to this copyright are of course greatly outraged that works they believed safely under their control has been snatched out from under them.
Odyssey certainly appears to already be a going concern, with a set of clean simple text based digital book covers for the classics they are releasing exclusively through Amazon’s Kindle for the first two years.
Good for Wylie, good for Odyssey.
From a consumer’s point of view I have reservations. I only looked at the pricing for one book, so the prices may vary, but I have to wonder how the ebook version of a books could cost more than the physical paperback version also sold through Amazon. Yes, the ebook version is sleek and lightweight, but the Kindle is after all a reader laden with DRM that I understand prevents copying for both format shifting and backups. In other words, the ten dollar ebook will be locked inside a brick if the Kindle breaks down or becomes obsolete. But that’s another story.
From an author’s point of view, there may be financial problems. Odyssey doesn’t seem to be offering authors such a great deal.
“Yes, there are costs of creating a digital version, but offering a 25, 30% royalty is insulting.”
~Kassia Krozser, Today in Publishing: A Skirmish
Although I don’t believe the Guardian’s assertion that Wylie’s Amazon deal brings the end of the publishing world nigh, I certainly do think this is a good thing.
It sounds to me that the Wylie Agency is stepping in and performing the service that that publishing houses should have performed for their clients. Adaptability is key to any business long term survival. The total control they have long held seems to have seduced the publishing industry in much the same way it has the recording and movie companies into believing that they deserve control of these copyrights.
this story can help start the copyright conversation
Technology has changed the world indescribably, and corporations have exerted untold amounts of pressure on lawmakers the world over to legislate anti-progress in the form of copyright laws and treaties.
The changes being made to the world in the name of copyright are still largely unnoticed by most people. Demographically young computer savvy people are among the most knowledgeable sector of society about these issues, but they are a minority. And the fact remains that the whole world NEEDS to be part of the conversation. Allowing corporate interests to control the conversation is increasingly leading to greater and greater imbalance.
copyright and the public domain
I’ve never understood how anyone besides the creator is entitled to the proceeds from copyright. License the work to the publisher sure, but giving them copyright? No legal system should ever have allowed this. Copyright was meant to encourage creation for the good of culture.
In the beginning there was the commons. Ownership of the songs and stories of belonged to everyone. Story tellers preserved and shaped the culture, and in return society made sure they could make living at it. Minstrels telling a good tale or singing a good song were fed. The introduction of the printing press changed things in that the words of the writers could now be spread and shared through this artificial means. Copyright is an artificial right assumed by society in an effort to encourage creators to continue to create by controlling the monetization of their work for a finite period of time. When the term was up, the work went into the public domain so that all of society could get the benefit.
tweets from ORGcon
The UK Nonpartisan Open Rights Group, working to fight the UK’s ill advised hastily passed Digital Economy Act, today held #ORGCon. Cory Doctorow tweeted highlights. Copyright and the Public Domain were central to the convention, and much of what @doctorow and other attendees shared online, particularly comments by keynote speaker James Boyle provide some powerful background for this article:
- For the 1st time in human history, all the works produced by our contemporaries are inaccessible to us
- Paradox: absent Creative Commons etc, none of us will be able to share/use/mix anything made by our contemporaries in our lifetime
- Most works exhaust all commercial viability in 5 years
- Prior to 1978, 85% of works went into PD after 28 yrs b/c most authors didn’t think it was worth renewing copyright
- Of works in British Library > 28 yrs old, only 3-5% are commercially available
- Retrospective copyright extensions cut us off from our own culture to the benefit of no one
- If industry norms on copyright clearance were given as exam answers in law school, you’d flunk out
- Why not say “Hell with it. Copyright is dumb… ignore it.” Because culture’s viability shouldn’t be dependent on lawlessness
- Copyright maximalists have created a generation of lawbreakers, some guilty, some joyful. This is a great harm
- Prior to GOOGLE Book Search, books had been transformed into the least accessible place to put information
- Jennifer Jenkins: What used to be considered creativity is now thought of as theft.
- We’re the first generation in history to deny our own culture to ourselves.
- The Digital Economy Act was the result of the biggest lobbying operation @tom_watson (not speaking on behalf of his government) has seen in his political life.
- “An entire generation has given up the idea that breaking the law is wrong”~ James Boyle
For further first person #org coverage read:
Elmyra’s ORGcon 2010 Livejournal
rt @doctorow: Until the tenth Century a musicians just needed to play.
Until the 19th century musicians just needed to be literate.
In the twentieth century, musicians needed to be geeks,
But in 21st Century musicians need to be lawyers.
These laws will force all of us to be lawyers.
Everyone from professional media makers to children putting together school projects.
The United States has enacted the DMCA. The UK the DEAct. Canada has tabled Bill C-32, copyright legislation misleadingly titled “The Copyright Modernization Act”. And the secret international copyright treaty A.C.T.A. seeks to subjugate the copyright laws of the whole world.
Copyright is no longer simply an area of special interest to publishers and writers. Changes being made in the name of copyright effect culture and the the way we access culture in every country of the world.
We all need to be part of the conversation.
Image Credits: spider web used under a CreativeCommons Attribution 2.0 Generic license (by) 2004 cybershotking
Fate of videotape (en:obsolence) © 2004 by Tomasz Sienicki used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license
William Styron, Santiago, Chile, 1988 photo by Marcelo Montecino Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
Wikipedia cropped cinema image of Peggy Lee, used under the public domain in the US and fair dealing in Canada
[on May 21, 2010 I simul-posted an article about the Canadian Digital Economy Consultation in three of my blogs in hopes of encouraging participation in the consultation process. I felt this was necessary since thousands of Canadians were still so angry after participating in the Copyright Consultation only to be ignored by the Government. My direct participation was limited because I was getting my debut novel "Inconstant Moon" ready for publishing. I did manage a submission, but as I look at how the digEcon went I regret I was unable to participate more.
There are digEcon issues to write but what started as an Oh! Canada post grew too big (even for me). Instead I'm breaking it down into a three part series across my blogs. The first part is published here in the wind because this is where I generally look at copyright issues because they affect me as a content consumer and a writer. The second part will go into Oh! Canada and the final part into StopUBB. When all three are complete I'll add link arrows.]
If you’ve followed the Canadian Copyright debacle you might want to skip the recap & go straight to the last paragraph.
The Canadian Government put on a Copyright Consultation last year, inviting Canadians to offer input on copyright so the government could take it into consideration when drafting new copyright law. Sounds good, eh? Democratic Government.
The copyright consultation wasn’t produced out of governmental good will. You have to look at the back story to “get it”.
The last time the Canadian Liberal Party was in power in a minority Government, they tabled a draft copyright law known as Bill C-60 back in 2005. Fortunately for Canada this law did not slip through. Once the contents of the draft legislation became known it was generally reviled by Canadians. We were quite fortunate that we had a minority government and that it folded before this bad law might have passed.
[Not because it was a good law, but because the worst part of our electoral system is that a so-called "majority party" can pass whatever legislation they like, even if the rest of the country is against it. Canada needs electoral reform (check out Fairvote Canada to get involved. But that's another story.]
The subsequent minority government was formed by the Conservative Party of Canada. They tabled draft copyright legislation known as Bill C-61, which was also universally reviled. Again we were fortunate that we had a minority government and that it folded before this law might have passed.
Both of these efforts came under fire at least partially because they were handed down like tablets from “on high”.
There had been no discussion with or input from citizens.
More unusual, it appears that the rich and powerful corporate and collective stakeholders– the ones ordinarily be counted on to back the government up– had been left out of the process as well. Meaning there was essentially there was no support for either version of this legislation.
[The key question that has to be asked is "Why?"]
The ensuing election did not result in the Conservative Party majority they expected. After all, under Canada’s current electoral system, a majority government can pass any law it likes. So instead of just dusting off Bill C-61 and trying again, the pressure to “strengthen” Canadian copyright law led to the Conservative Government surprising us all with the announcement of a Canada wide “Copyright Consultation”.
Strategically this was brilliant: instead of trying to push essentially the same law through a second time, they gave Canadians a chance to be heard. Holy democracy Batman!
It didn’t quite come off without a hitch: the Copyright Consultation had a traveling ‘dog and pony show’ that raised more hackles than it calmed. Accusations of stacking the deck at the so-called ‘Town Hall’ meetings, citizens– including Canadian Federation of Students members and elected Member of Parliament Olivia Chow– were prevented from distributing copyright info flyers to people attending the “Town Hall” meetings. You can read about the whole gory extravaganza on Michael Geist‘s public service Speak out on Copyright site.
With such heavy handed efforts being made to control the outcome, it was actually quite depressing to sit down and write my own copyright consultation submission.
But it was important and so I did it.
Even though copyright law had already impacted on my life in many ways over the years as both a consumer and creator I’d never really thought about copyright before. I was actually surprised by all the things that bubbled up out of my life experience into my formal submission.
Over the months following the #copycon I’ve taken the time to read through some of the other submissions. I learned a great deal I did not know, and my opinion and feelings about copyright have been enriched by things I have read and learned. They are all still there online, ready to be read. Over eight thousand Canadians responded to the #copycon.
I have been amazed at the depth of thought, the intelligence, the innovation and creativity expressed by many of my fellow Canadians. I’ve learned so much. But even more, reading these submissions made me proud to be part of this great land. Almost all of the Canadians who made submissions firmly rejected anything like a DMCA style copyright law for Canada.
The Copyright Modernization Act
Perhaps change for the sake of change is a reasonable when you’re tired of your home decor, but it’s not a good reason to change law. Before making new copyright law, we must have a Canada wide consensus on the issues. What is copyright for?
- What is reasonable to Canadians?
- What is sharing?
- Or personal use?
- Or piracy?
- are we willing to lower previously accepted standards of evidence?
- What kind of penalties are reasonable for non-commercial copyright infringements… in other words, should children who share music go to jail?
Intellectual Property is the most unnatural kind of law possible. Because it runs contrary to the natural inclinations of both creators and society it’s the kind of law that can’t simply be handed down by corporations and lawmakers. It must be an agreement between creators and society– that’s the balance that has to be achieved for it to work. The foundation has not been laid to allow for changing the copyright law we have now.
Changes being made to copyright law at the behest of corporate special interest groups in recent years have troubled me greatly, but they have been counter balanced by offering creators recourse to the marvelous Creative Commons Licensing. CC allows the creator to decide how copyright can best serve us in creation and distribution of our work. It has been excellent for our culture; the Canadian Arts are entering a golden age.
Yet this year the Government has just tabled “new” legislation called Bill C-32 “The Copyright Modernization Act.” Not the healthy balanced copyright law that most of us had hoped for, but rather the long dreaded Canadian DMCA. Thousands of Canadians, like myself, feel betrayed because our government totally ignored our input. Input that the Government asked for through the Copyright Consultation.
As it stands this legislation would remove copyright control from creators by making it subject to manufacturers DRM/TPM or “digital locks”. Digital locks of any kind shouldn’t even be part of the conversation about copyright.
As a creator, as a writer, this is horrifying. For hundreds of years copyright has existed with the intention of allowing content creators a means of making a living. And the very first content creators were writers. Copyright was made for us.
Canadian creators will lose our ability to control our work with Creative Commons Licensing if Bill C-32 is passed because digital locks will appear on all blank media and all media devices from e-readers to hard drives. Bill C-32 will give sole control of copyright to manufacturers.
So far this dreadful law has not passed.
There has been a big outcry. Many Canadians have been speaking out against it.
During this uproar, suddenly we have the announcement of a new initiative:
The Digital Economy Consultation
Many Canadians have viewed this with skepticism. Many intelligent, informed and thoughtful Canadians did not participate at all, wondering why they should bother when the Government won’t listen anyway? Isn’t this Digital Economy Consultation website just a sham?
A Digital Economy con? A way to deflect the criticism from Bill C-32?
I don’t think it matters. It is important to speak out even if they don’t listen.
The Copyright Consultation resulted in a volume of clearly Canadian work. Together the online #copycon submissions make up an online reference work that other Canadians can read online.
Canadians are smart. We can learn from each other even if this Government won’t. Some future Government may be clever enough to act on our ideas even if this Government will not. That’s why I wrote an article urging people to contribute to the digEcon and simulcast it across all my blogs. Yet for most of the consultation period I’ve been hard at work on my novel.
It wasn’t until quite late in the game I was able to spare the time for it, but I just managed it. I’m not entirely happy with what I submitted. But I was running on empty to make the deadline, and I did. It wasn’t as brilliant as I would have liked, but that’s life. I even had the better part of an hour before midnight, just in case there were technical difficulties.
When I went to make the submission I was surprised to see that the consultation period had been extended. Great. The extension meant that I could actually proof my submission and perhaps minimize the incidence of spelling mistakes and typographical errors. But why?
No explanation, just an extension. I wondered what that was about.
Looking back at the Copyright Consultation, there were so many people making eleventh hour submissions that the government granted a 24 hour “grace period”. They didn’t open that all up again, as they did here.
For the digEcon, they added four days. What an odd number. If they were going to extend it a useful amount, a month would have been good. And it wasn’t just submissions that were allowed over the four days, it was everything. Like voting on Idea Forum ideas. Keeping the Idea Forums open for a month might have been really productive. Just think of the collective brilliance that might have come out of that. But no, it was four days.
Not enough time to allow most ordinary Canadians enough time to create a submission or participate in the forums. So why did they do it?
Reference Material – Canadian Copyright Law
Reference Material – Information on American Copyright Law
- H.R.2281 aka`Digital Millennium Copyright Act’
- Electronic Frontier Foundation: Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Image Credit: Copyright jail Question Copyright Sita Distribution Project remixed with my “Inconstant Moon” cover art by laurelrusswurm