Copyright Rumours Swirling Again

h/t to David Canton via Twitter…

Michael Geist is indicating that the Canadian copyright reform measures that the Conservative government has been advancing is again in play. There are many points at issue here, including:

  • A lack of transparency in the legal process that has the appearance of cronyism and capitulation to special interest (including the US government and US industry);
  • A degree of hypocrisy on the part of the Conservatives (by refusing to ‘ratify’ the WIPO treaty as per Canadian law);
  • A serious retraction of fair use that we already enjoy as Canadians (e.g. copying a CD to iTunes would become an infraction);
  • Virtually no expansion of fair use to cover academic and personal use (e.g. recording a show for later viewing on a DVR or VCR is currently an infraction, and there is no provision in the ‘reform’ plans to provide relief for this);
  • A copyright law that is heavily tilted in favour of private interest and industry, rather than truly fair use policy for all Canadians.

It’s this last issue that is the log line for me… Overly protectionist copyright law has the net effect of harming society and industry as it seeks to restrict (artificially) the flow of information and innovation. One need look no further than Orson Scott Card’s commentary on the J.K. Rowling copyright suit to see a prime illustration of this point.

At the end of the day, fair use is not about piracy (although apparently piracy has its merits too). Rather, fair use is about consumer choice, consumer rights, and protection from an industry that thrives on re-selling (sorry, licensing), the same materials over and over again, with no substantive difference beyond format.

The Canadian government has a responsibility to both citizens and industry. Dr. Geist has laid out a very clear, objective, and ultimately fair method for achieving that balance. It’s critical that the minority Conservative government recognizes this.

Link to Michael Geist’s Blog

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