Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

copycon: the continuing saga

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More strolling through the Canadian Copyright Consultation Submissions…

I keep coming back to this magnificent outpouring of ideas about Canadian copyright law and all that goes with it, and I am so very impressed.

Chen Shen wrote a great one. Here are a couple of my favorite bits:

“the purpose behind copyright should be reevaluated, and reforms should achieve a truly balanced approach to protecting the interests of both content publishers and content consumers, which is based in reality as opposed to the fantasies of media conglomerates clinging onto an ancient media landscape.”

— Chen Shen, copyright consultation submission

Beautiful use of language. And this part is so simple, yet so sensible.

“Generally speaking, restrictive protections should expire soon after content ceases to generate significant revenue.”

— Chen Shen, copyright consultation submission

Google found me the blog. This tiny excerpt says SO much:

“The government’s message is clear: lying on the sex offenders registry is less harmful than sharing your favourite songs on the internet watching DVDs on Linux.”

— cshen.ca blog

Jeff Cliff programming student/composer has a lot of very interesting stuff to say, interweaving philosophical ideas with everyday practicalities.

“Digitally locking the hood of a car so that only the dealer can maintain it restricts who can learn to fix it — this is not how things happen in the future Canada that I want.”
— Jeff Cliff, copyright consultation submission

If this is a typical Canadian student, Canada could have such a bright future.

“Let your children, at least, be free”
— Jeff Cliff, copyright consultation submission

Dusty Phillips, freelance software developer/member of the Pirate Party of Canada

“The distribution channels are irrelevant; they know this and are lobbying for laws to make it harder and/or illegal to access content without paying them. This is like trying to pass laws that we all use typewriters instead of e-mail because typewriters and the postal system are no longer relevant. It serves a set of industries already well-known for misusing artists and consumers alike.”

— Dusty Phillips, copyright consultation submission

This submission brings up an interesting ramification that I hadn’t thought of: the privacy issue

“The privacy problem is that policing such laws would require knowing every movie I watch, every book I read, and every packet I transfer across the Internet. The authorities would have to read every e-mail to ensure I haven’t attached an “illegal” file to it. This is clearly a drastic invasion of privacy.”

— Dusty Phillips, copyright consultation submission

Which of course could be the strongest motivation for efforts to alter Bill C-27 to grant such draconian abilities to the telecom providers.

Another aspect Dusty Phillips discusses is the Canadian “desire to create”. The world of repressed Canadian culture Dusty describes here is actually the dark ages of music and art that the internet is in the process of freeing Canadian culture from.

Of course, the old guard keeps trying to claw us back into the pit because they were much happier when they controlled everything. What they are missing is absurd. If artists are allowed the freedom to find their own audiences, when they are established they will still prefer to affiliate with a distribution network. Because artists want to create, not sell.

The biggest difference in the new model would be that the artists and the distributors would be entering into a more equitable arrangement.

The deal is no longer that the artist has to sell their soul to a company that will try to make them a star. At first blush Big Media doesn’t want that shift of power. I suspect long term it would work out better for them too.   But they must have the flexibility to adapt. Instead of trying, they are trying to legislate turning back the hands of time. Not gonna happen, folks. What will happen is the little guys doing the distribution now will end up replacing the big guys who are too rigid to adapt.

During my growing up years the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Canadian politicians of all stripes was: “Canada needs an identity.” or “We don’t have a national identity.”

Even as a kid my take on it was that the Canadian identity is that we were NOT American.

So what is happening in the here and now? The digital age that has arrived has already gone so very far in allowing Canadian culture to grow freely. In the last decade, Canadians have been growing a culture by making use of these technologies. Not just to produce their art but to distribute it.

This is awesome. If allowed to flourish in the fullness of time… perhaps even already… there would no longer need to be any Canadian Content law. Canadian art and music and movies would be allowed to grow and find audiences on their merit and appeal to audience.

In my day, many really talented Canadians had to leave Canada to “make it big”.

Lets just for one moment look at a few Americon iconic characters brought to life by Canadians who couldn’t make a living at home:
Elwood Blues: Dan Ackroyd
The original ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce Donald Sutherland
Captain Kirk: William Shatner (yes, sadly he’s one of ours)
Scotty: James Doohan
King Kong’s original true love: Fay Wray
Pa Cartright: Lorne Greene
Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones: Kim Cattral
Perry Mason: Raymond Burr
Nero Wolfe: Maury Chaykin
Lois Lane: Margot Kidder
Tonto: Jay Silverheels

Which is why Canada Post keeps honoring “Canadians In Hollywood”. So many of our best and brightest have had to go below the border:

Canada Post: Canadians In Hollywood stamps

Canada Post: Canadians In Hollywood stamps

Just a few Canadians who had to leave home to develop intellectual property:
James Cameron (Titanic)
Norman Jewison (Fiddler and the Roof)
Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters)
Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live)

And of course some of Hollywood’s brightest stars were Christopher Plummer, Dorothy Pickford, Leslie Nielson, Lorne Greene, Michael J. Fox, Jim Carrey, Glen Ford, Robert Goulet, Raymond Massey,Meg and Jennifer Tilley, Norma Shearer, Martin Short, Kate Nelligan…. the list goes on and on and on.

Maybe if Canada were to embrace the new model, as so many of the copyright consultation submissions suggest, things will continue to change and more of our brightest stars will be able to stay home.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

October 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] I wrote a bit about the Canadian talent-drain in copycon: the continuing saga. […]


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