Laurel L. Russwurm's Free Culture Blog

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Archive for the ‘copyright’ Category

Copyright, Fair Dealing and Paywalls

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When the paywall “protected” Blacklock’s Reporter sued the Government of Canada for an alleged copyright violation, the court concluded:

[8] Any reporter with the barest understanding of copyright law could not have reasonably concluded that the Department’s limited use of the subject news articles represented a copyright infringement. Indeed, the fair dealing protection afforded by section 29 of the Copyright Act, RSC, 1985, c C-42, is so obviously applicable to the acknowledged facts of this case that the litigation should never have been commenced let alone carried to trial.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Barnes, Blacklock’s Cost Award 20161221125911759

Howard Knopf summarizes the lawsuit thusly:

“The Attorney General of Canada has achieved a clear victory against Blacklock’s Reporter in the latter’s attempt to collect damages of $17,209.10 based upon its supposed institutional subscription rate because a few public servants in the Department of Finance received, read and distributed two Blacklock’s articles about a file they were closely involved in that had been sent to them by a Blacklock’s subscriber.”

my Canadian copyright symbolCopyright law in Canada is at minimum confusing to most non-lawyers, even those of us involved in content creation. As a self publishing author, and to some extent a citizen journalist, it is important that I have more than the barest understanding of copyright law. Like most self publishing bloggers lacking legal staff, I’d rather be writing than spending time in court, so when in doubt I’m inclined to self censor for my own protection, something known as copyright chill. Since I’ve been actively weighing copyright law as it applies to me and my own work (since Canada’s 2010 Copyright Consultation), I am always interested in how copyright issues play out.

So I was particularly curious about what Justice Robert Barnes described as the “obviously applicable” fair dealing protection.

(j) What occurred here was no more than the simple act of reading by persons with an immediate interest in the material. The act of reading, by itself, is an exercise that will almost always constitute fair dealing even when it is carried out solely for personal enlightenment or entertainment;

The Honourable Mr. Justice Barnes’ Judgement and Reasons
re: BLACKLOCK’S REPORTER (Plaintiff) and CANADA (Defendant) [download PDF]

In other words reading (or by extension viewing, or listening to) copyrighted material is allowed under Canada’s Fair Dealing provisions, even when such material is locked behind a paywall. Sharing such material is another matter. A large part of the reason the subscriber who shared the articles was not held liable seems to be Blacklock’s failure to adequately spell out in its terms of service what a subscription does or does not allow. Although the judgement draws attention to the fact:

(k) While the public interest is served by the vigilance of the press, copyright should not be a device that serves to protect the press from accountability for its errors and omissions. The Department had a legitimate interest in reading the articles with a view to holding Blacklock’s to account for its questionable reporting.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Barnes’ Judgement and Reasons
 re: BLACKLOCK’S REPORTER (Plaintiff) and CANADA (Defendant) [download PDF]

Excess Copyright tells us:

“…the amount claimed by the Government, which was “$115,702.30, based on 70% of the actual value of professional hours expended in the defence of the claim and including disbursements of $7,020.98.”

Blacklock’s Must Pay $65,000 for Litigation that “should never have been commenced let alone carried to trial”

Although Mr. Knopf views this as a victory, from my perspective it’s not.

Although I am not a lawyer, there seems to be a suggestion that, had the TOS been worded differently, the subscriber’s decision to share the articles– in spite of holding the publisher to account– such an action may well have been construed as illegal copyright infringement, specifically circumventing Technical Protections Management (TPM). The plaintiff sought to make this latter argument, but the Judge didn’t allow it.

To my mind, the biggest problem with copyright law is the court system.  Fighting a copyright claim in court wouldn’t only eat into an independent creator’s time, if it costs $115,702.30, $65,000 or even the two thousand dollar settlement the Government offered would be beyond the means of most.
Court engraved in courthouse wall

It doesn’t matter whether a copyright infringement lawsuit has merit or is spurious. The Government of Canada may have the wherewithal to fight such matters in court, but this is hardly true for the vast majority of citizen journalists, self publishers or bloggers.  Because copyright battles are fought through the legal system, creators, bloggers and self publishers are at an enormous disadvantage to large well funded multinationals or copyright trolls with predatory business models.

There are some websites I access that are partially locked behind paywalls, but publish some articles publicly. I decided a long time ago I don’t want to share links to sites that are locked behind paywalls, or even registration walls, because I don’t want to compel my readers to have to sacrifice their money or privacy to be informed. Because of this, I have made it a point not to subscribe to any paywalled site, simply to ensure I don’t share such links inadvertently.  But now I am wondering, are subscribers aware that sharing information — perhaps even in a quotation — from such sites risks charges of copyright infringement?    If so, it is surely a disincentive to subscriptions.

Holiday Free Culture Fun

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Merry Christmas

Looking for something to fill your down time (or keep the kids occupied) on the holidays?

After you’ve watched all your favourite Christmas movies, you will probably be in the mood for a change.  That’s when I’d break out some awesome free culture cartoons.  I love the Dave Fleisher Superman shorts; fortunately for us, they fell into the public domain, this emancipation makes them free to watch, share, copy.  Woo hoo!

[download all the Fleisher Superman films here for better quality]

There are many more, and many more free culture animated shorts to be found in the Internet Archive… like this Roger Ramjet flashback to my childhood:

 

This one was the cause of a lawsuit by the Fleischer Studios because shirts, coffee mugs and other materials had Betty Boop’s likeness on them. This film is still public domain and the studio lost in court.

Betty Boop: “Let Me Call You Sweetheart:”

As Nina Paley reminds us:

If you haven’t seen Nina’s Sita Sings the Blues, make sure to carve out an hour and a half to watch the most awesome breakup movie ever told:

Find these and more on the pages of Internet Archive’s Animation Shorts
They’ve got a pretty decent collection of Feature Films, too.

Merry Christmas!   Joyeux Noël!   Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi!   Geseënde Kersfees!   عيد ميلاد مجيد  
Frohe Weihnachten!   Gleðileg jól!   Mitho Makosi Kesikansi!  Sretan Božić  
Niibaa’ Anami’egiizhigad & Aabita Biboo
Prettige Feestdagen

 

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 23, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Tis the Season for Gift Anxiety

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gplusbannerWe’ve been told the economy is in an upturn, but I’m afraid that only means the rich are making profits again. Seems this is largely based on underpaying most people, as so many good jobs with benefits are gone, obliging people to hold down multiple part time jobs instead with raises and bonuses now the stiff of myth. As a result, the retail market is again tanking, since many are not getting gifts at all, while others are reduced to shopping at s is at the dollar store.

mamabearsmallI’ve been making gifts for most of my life, not just because they are economical, but because if I make them myself they aren’t going to fall apart immediately.  If you can sew or knit, you can male personalized gifts like this Teddy Bear I made for my neice decades ago (that her children play with today).

It is late to start making your own, but here are a couple ideas of gifts you can make in a relatively short period of time.

Eatables

Bake cookies, cakes and Christmas treats etc. and package them in tins, mason jars, whatever you have (note: especially if it is a reuse tin or plastic container, be sure to line with waxed paper)

Multimedia

Burn DVDs of free culture movies (or make a gift card with a link to downloads or places to watch online) like Sita Sings The Blues
or
Blender Animation
or any of the wonderful old movies are in the public domain available at the Internet Archive movie section.

clay-painted_8217

In Canada blank burnable CDs are more expensive than blank burnable DVDs (thank copyright law for that bit of foolishness), but for the music lover’s in your life that may be just the ticket. One of my absolute favourite musicians is Josh Woodward, who releases all of his music CC by, again, making it easy and legal to download and burn a CD.

Find more free culture music through the Creative Commons search tool here,  at the Free Music Archive, or Internet Archive.

There are lots of free culture books as well that can be found in digital formats at Project Gutenberg, Project Gutenberg Canada, and Project Gutenberg Australia

Tangibles

Great gifties for grandparents: plaster of paris toddler hand or footprints. Best to use a disposable container for the plaster placque.

1. mix the plaster
2. pour plaster into container
3. Press a pencil or straw into the plaster at the top so the plaque can be hung on the wall
4. cover your child’s hand or foot in vaseline before pressing it into the plaster.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT submerge. The top of the hand or foot needs to be able to lift out cleanly.
5. Paint (or not)

Dead Lightbulb GrinchMake decorations out of bits and pieces around the house. Broken bits of costume jewellery and toys can often be refurbished, or you can paint a Grinch on an old lightbulb.

You can find many “blanks” (plain wood boxes, christmas ornament cutouts, picture frames, clocks) at craft or dollar stores.  You can decoupage pretty pictures cut from magazines, or pictures of your kids on these (modge podge) or you and/or the kids can paint or decorate them.  You can get water based Tempra paint (like they use in elementary school) if your small kids are doing the decorating, more durable (and still water based) is acryllic craft paint available from art, craft, hardware or dollar stores.  A few bottles of primary colours will go a long way.  Crayons or markers can be used as well.

Make your own bakers’s clay ornaments etc. with the recipe at a maker’s space.

You can also make a lot of decorations by hand– paper snowflakes, paper chains, and my absolute favourite: popcorn garland!  Use old colour comics or magazine pages for wrapping.

Hope this helps make the holidays happy!

 

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

December 19, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Strollers vs Walkers

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priority-seatingYesterday I got on the bus behind a young woman with a tiny baby in a massive stroller.
The priority seating seat was already folded up to the wall, but she asked the people who were sitting on the forward facing seats to move so she could park the stroller there, and they did. After she got the monster stroller tucked in, she sat on that seat herself, with her knees jutting into the aisle. I ended up sitting way at the back of the bus, and didn’t really pay attention until glancing up to see why one stop was taking so long.

The bus had knelt to allow an elderly woman to board, but she couldn’t get past the mother with the monster stroller. Someone in a wheelchair was sitting in the priority seating spot on the other side of the bus.

I saw the woman with the walker try to get past 3 times, but the device kept catching on something and bouncing back.  Finally the young mother seemed to notice there was a problem, so I thought maybe she would move out, but instead she bent down and lifted the front of the walker over so it could get past.  The elderly lady struggled to the middle of the bus, where she sank into the seat beside the back door.

I can understand why a driver might not want to intervene but s/he should have.

When the bus arrived at the terminal, the young mother and her stroller got out easily.  Meanwhile, the elderly woman had to wait for the people exiting at the rear to get off before she could push her walker back to the front of the bus so she could disembark.

Although my baby is college age, I well remember how much there was to learn with a new baby, so it occurred to me the young mother might not realize she had done anything wrong.  So I hurried to catch up with her. I explained she should have moved her stroller to let the elderly woman sit in the priority seating.

She told me:

  • she could not have moved down the aisle because her stroller wheel base was too large to fit
  • she had helped the woman get past her — the other woman’s walker fit in the aisle, problem solved
  • she couldn’t possibly carry the baby when she was going to be out all day
  • another smaller stroller wouldn’t work because she needed to bring her stuff
  • besides, what was she supposed to do, stay home?

I do remember the challenges in getting around with a baby in a stroller.  Back in the day I had been given an old fashioned baby buggy for my new baby.  It would have been fine to take on walks around the neighborhood, excursions to the park, and such, but it was too big to take on a bus. Twenty some odd years ago, buses didn’t kneel, but even if they had, there would have been no place for a baby buggy because back then there were no accommodations for people with mobility challenges in regular buses.  I used an umbrella stroller.

I know how important it is for a young mom with a baby to get out and about.   But it is just as important for people with mobility challenges.  But priority seating areas are not there for strollers.

Priority Seating

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) S.O. 2005, c. 11″ requires “Priority Seating” at the front of the bus to be reserved for people of all ages with disabilities and mobility challenges.

No priority-seating-2_115235one minds if a stroller takes that spot if no one with a disability or mobility challenge needs it. But when the space is needed, the able bodied are expected to move. That goes for strollers.  If the stroller is too big to fit down the aisle, the only solution I see is that it needs to disembark and wait for the next bus that can accommodate it.  GRT buses can only accommodate only 2 wheelchairs. If a bus has 2 passengers in wheel chairs aboard, it can’t pick a third passenger waiting at a stop in a wheelchair. That person would have to wait for a bus that can.

The accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act exists because people the person who needs a walker to walk needs a walker to walk.

A person with a baby has choices. S/he can carry the baby in arms. If s/he can’t manage that for long, there are also baby carriers parents can wear.

And while a monster stroller might cost hundreds of dollars, umbrella strollers are very inexpensive. A quick online search turned up one for $29.97 at Walmart and another on sale right now for $15.99 at Babies R Us.

If large strollers displace the passengers for whom priority seating exists, there are only 2 solutions for Grand River Transit that I can think of.

  1. GRT could double the capacity of the priority seating area, or
  2. GRT could train drivers to deal with such situations, or
  3. GRT could ban large strollers.

Public Transit has improved enormously over my lifetime, it is something that ought to work for everyone.  But we all need to remember it is a shared space, and there are rules that need to be followed.  We need to respect other passengers, so we can all get where we’re going.


Postscript:  I just found the bit about strollers in the GRT rules:

Strollers

Strollers must be able to fit through the front doors and down the aisles in order to board the bus. For the safety of all customers, the aisles must not be blocked.

Customers should know the dimensions of their stroller before attempting to board the bus.

Customers with strollers are required to move to the rear of the bus, lock the wheels of the stroller and remain in firm control of it at all times. If possible, strollers are to be folded when standee conditions apply.

Hold on to the stroller at all times to avoid tipping. Position the stroller so passengers can walk freely down the aisle.

Grand River Transit: Passenger Comfort and Safety

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 19, 2016 at 9:31 pm

Posted in copyright

Happy Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day

In recent years we’ve gone straight from winter into summer. Although we’ve been having record shattering temperatures in the last few months, we’ve had spring, winter and summer, and then back again. I captured this bee (in photographic form only, thanks 🙂 ) on April 19th whilst walking the dogs a few blocks from home. So it looks like it is really spring now.

The natural world is wonderful, and I sincerely hope we humans can stop our race to destruction. The first step in weaning ourselves from our profligate fossil fuel consumption is certainly to #keepitintheground. I hope our governments are clever enough to actually do this.

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

April 22, 2016 at 8:43 pm

My NaNoWriMo

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night writingEven on my best day I don’t think I could manage more than 10k in a single day, so I had a pretty good idea I wouldn’t be making it to 50k again this time.

Probably the deciding factor came out of my conversation with my son when he called on my birthday. He asked me if the words I had written were good words…and in fact, they are. I am quite pleased with how this year’s novel is going. And I knew that had I killed myself to scratch up 10k in a hurry, they probably wouldn’t have been very good words.

What NaNo has done is gotten me writing again, even with the political bumps. So here’s to a NaNo experience that worked well for me!

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

November 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm

Posted in copyright

Tagged with

Canadian Political Housecleaning

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The Canadian Bill of Rights after Bill C-51

When I still had hopes some MPs in our Federal Parliament might find it difficult or impossible to vote for Bill C-51, the Harper Government draft legislation that effectively shreds the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights, I did everything possible to spread the word, including reblogging political articles here.  Clearly I was wrong; neither Liberal or Conservative Parliamentarians had the spine to stand up for Canadian civil rights, and our unfair electoral system gave them the power to do so.

The Harper Government dispensed with proper scrutiny or debate and so the fast-tracked Bill C-51 has passed third reading in the House of Commons.  It’s still before the Senate, and will also need Royal Assent, but so far the Senate and the Governor general have proved themselves nothing more than Rubber Stamps, so my hopes are not high.

If you wish to keep an eye on it, Bill C-51 Legisinfo will let you know how far along Bill C-51 is in the process.

Now it’s time for me to return to my day job, and the first order of the day is to clean up the political debris cluttering up my Free Culture blog.  Since it’s poor netiquette  to delete material one has published, I can’t just delete my reposts without making them available, so here is the the list of political articles I reblogged (and now deleted).


But you don’t have to take our word for it… ask the experts:

Law Professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach (at the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto respectively) have been raising the alarm in articles like“Bill C-51: the Good, the Bad . . . and the Truly Ugly” which outline many of the very disturbing elements of Bill C-51.  They’ve created a website where they have shared their findings about Bill C-51 in detail http://www.antiterrorlaw.ca/

Possibly the single most disturbing element for me is something Mr. Forcese says in one of his information videos:

…the whole thing is covert.

We just have never seen anything like this in Canada before. Personally I would expect judges to consider all this unconstitutional and they could never let CSIS breach the constitution. But you and I may never know because, as I’ve said, this legal question would likely be decided as part of secret proceedings.

— Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law

Bill C-51 ignores the rule of law and the protections Canadians enjoy under our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is serious enough to worry Canadians across the political spectrum.

You know its a non-partisan problem when legal scholars and ex-judges the legal profession and Rex Murphy and Conrad Black andJean Chrétien and Paul Martin and Joe Clark and John Turner andElizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair and the Communist Party andFirst Nations and a growing number of ordinary citizens are in agreement about how bad Bill C-51 is.

If that hasn’t given you enough to chew on, check out these videos:

Michael Harris at the Registry Theatre

Fair Vote Guelph: The Robocall Scandal ~ Town Hall

Stop Bill C-51 #Privacy matters #HumanRights #Canada YouTube Playlist

My own Bill C-51 YouTube Playlist

Any additional blogs I make will appear on my Whoa!Canada blog.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Written by Laurel L. Russwurm

May 12, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Posted in copyright