Canadian DCMA: Protect Your Anus
If you’re a Canadian concerned about your fair-use rights (to say, quote a verse from a song without having to ask for permission), or Canada’s ability to compete in the world economy… then you’ve probably already asked yourself, “What can I do to ensure Canada’s future copyright legislation isn’t written strictly to appease multinational media corporations?”
Hell, we all have.
There’s some sound advice out there, to be sure. Michael Geist has 50 suggestions how you can make a difference. There is a Facebook group available to help organize activities. And activists are collecting media clips you can use to help create your own viral video campaigns.
Jim, don’t you worry! There’s opportunity for everyone to help out when it comes to improving Canadian copyright law. In fact, as Canada’s Federal Industry Minister who is tabling legislation to update , you’re in the perfect position to help!
The first thing to remember is, we’re on your side. Copyright activists might crash your occasional constituent open house, but that’s just because we’re worried you might fail to recognize the disaster which is American copyright policy. Certainly we believe you’ve only heard from proponents of stricter copyright.
In 2003, out of 98 conservative MPs only yourself and 2 others voted to extend the definition of marriage in Canada to include same-sex couples. This either shows you’re capable or reasoning problems out logically… or you’re more then happy to let the gays fall into this death spiral we call marriage. They kept whining about not being able to marry eh? Well this will learn ’em.
- Every artist is a cannibal every poet is a thief….and every company producing content of value depends on the public domain as a source of inspiration. Walt Disney’s early films were based on stories in the public domain, yet copyright has continually been extended to the effect that no Walt Disney content has yet fallen into the public domain.
- Large copyright owners seek perpetual copyright….perpetual copyright, restricting fair-use rights and hindering the ability to create derivative works. These all play to large copyright holder’s strength: their existing library of property. While it may be more difficult for them to innovate in their future creations, strict copyright increases the value of their property and also decreases the competition they face when selling their content.
- United States intellectual property copyright has grown from 14 to 95 years….in steps which continue to keep old content just out of reach of the public domain. When Walt Disney content is about to enter the public domain, another copyright extension is passed.
- Optimal copyright has been recently calculated to be 14 years….Cambridge University PhD candidate Rufus Pollock deduced that to maximize both content creation and revenue collection, copyright should expire in 14 years. A large part of this creative potential is due to “orphaned works“, where an artists must contact a copyright holder to secure permission to reuse a component which is still protected by copyright, but the owner of the copyright can not be found.
- DMCA stifles research and
innovation….the ability to reverse engineer products , to discuss their
weaknesses and debate improvements even in an academic setting has been severely impacted by DMCA.
- DMCA has resulted in more than 20,000
lawsuits against music sharing Americans….failed to convince music fans that downloading is the
same as shoplifting, failed to drive file sharers into the arms of legitimate online services, and failed to
put a penny into the pockets of artists. The Canadian music industry is actually in far healthier shape than American, possibly due to Canadian labels inability to depend on the Canadian government to protect outdated business models, and war with consumers.
If you’ve gotten this far, you probably see yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. American DMCA has been a shit-show, but at least American lobbyists don’t show up and disrupt your parties . Yet if you give in to their demands, you’ll be accused of not listening to the needs of Canadians!
And to top it off Patricia Neri, the previous Director General of Copyright Policy, was removed from her position over what some call “personal reasons“… What others are calling having inappropriate personal relationships with a copyright lobbyist… And what I am calling having hot, sweaty sex with Doug Firth, who represented the American film industry in Canada. Couldn’t she have at least boinged someone representing the Canadian film industry?
So how can you steer through this valley of doom? …One word: Jewish People.
Israel was in a very similar situation to Canada, sharing a common copyright heritage. Both Canada and Israel’s copyright acts stem from UK Copyright Act of 1911. Like Canada, Israel was under pressure from copyright lobbyists to “modernize” its protections.
But the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), one such group attempting to pressure Israel, also charged Canada, Brazil, and South Korea with having granted inappropriate copyright exceptions to students and education institutions.
How did Israel respond to the pressure from the United States? Ha, just kidding. The United States doesn’t pressure Israel! The United States knows if it dreams about pressuring Israel it had better wake up and apologize. Israel, despite its antiquated patchwork of copyright laws, is a technological powerhouse producing more scientific papers, startup companies and new books than any other country (per capita). And some of it in Hebrew, which is crazy hard.
True common law approach: Israel’s new act is rather slim. It contains 5546 words, compared to more than 35,000 in Canada’s.
Fair Use: Permitted for purposes such as: private study, research, criticism, review, journalistic report, quotation, or training and examination by an educational institution.
No Anticircumvention: Israel’s brand new copyright act contains no anticircumvention provisions. The Israeli government has taken the view that at the moment, anticircumvention legislation does not seem to be urgently necessary.
So Jim… you don’t mind if I call you Jim do you? So Mr. Prentice, I hope you get a general idea what some of my concerns were last weekend when I stopped by to talk about copyright reform, and it, well… there were a lot of people competing for your time that day.
But when you do get a chance to talk to artists and content creators (copyright lobbyists rarely represent content creators, only copyright owners), you’ll probably find this subject is one that offers exciting possibilities. True copyright reform will expand Canadians’ creative and academic freedoms, and give us a competitive edge over our DMCA encumbered neighbor.
*Got an opinion? Why not join the conversation on the blog?
- Canadian DCMA: Protect Your Anus
- by Gordon McDowell
- Published on December 20th, 2007
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