Canadian copyright law is something I feel very strongly about. Yes, I personally have been guilty of downloading movies or videogames. I’m not perfect. However, I don’t support a policy which places those who would violate someone’s copyright above the holder of the copyright. (This is an issue Sami and I are not in 100% agreement on. I do think we agree on the basics though – that copyright holders have certain rights, they should be protected, and too draconian laws could be bad – it is a matter of degrees. She’ll speak up if I’m entirely incorrect.)
I do support fair and balanced copyright reform. Copyright reform in the works should give people exclusive control over their works for a time, and when that time expires have their work become part of the public domain.
Fair and balanced copyright reform would give copyright holders the ability to seek compensation for loss of profits when their intellectual property is violated.
What fair and balanced copyright reform should not do is place undo restrictions on consumers. For example, we should be able to device shift. We should be able to time shift. We should be able to parody a copyrighted work.
These are rights that are being considered for removal from future copyright reform being proposed by the Hon. Ministers Jim Prentice and Jose Verner.
This may seem like greek to some, but let me illustrate what I think is one of the worst ideas in the proposed reform – the lack of device shifting.
Device shifting is when you take copyrighted material that you have purchased, and move it to another device. For example, you buy a CD. You take the CD home and rip a copy of it to play on your iPod. This would be illegal under the proposed reform. Is this sane?
Sure it is – if you’re a major media label. You’d rather someone buys your CD, then goes home, attempts to put it on their iPod and finds out they can’t. They then have to go onto iTMS (iTunes Music Store) and purchase a second copy for their iPod. Royalties twice, for the same content.
Of course, I’m sure many industries would have liked to have the ear of Mr. Prentice. If I were a horse and buggy manufacturer when the automobile was invented I’d have loved it if I could have bought legislation in Canada which would make it illegal for people to drive automobiles on the roadways. Or if I were a producer of coal-oil, I’d have loved it if electric light bulbs were outlawed.
It is not the place of the government to protect a failing business model.
/end rant. (though I may write more about this in the next little while.
If you want to know more about this, here are a few places to start.
Michael Geist’s Blog – Michael Geist is a Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa. He is an expert on international copyright.
Facebook Fair Copyright for Canada Group – A group dedicated to discussion of fair copyright reform in Canada.
The Globe and Mail’s article, New copyright law starts Web storm.