Category Archives: copyright

Something I didn’t know before…

Interesting note about copyright in Canada (and the US, wording is different).  I didn’t know this before – I automatically assumed that the creator of a work was the first owner of the work.  However, this is different when the work is a “work made for hire”.  Here is the relevent tidbit.

Section 13(2) of the Canadian Copyright Act states that the copyright owner is the one who commissions and pays for the �engraving, photograph or portrait. In other words, provided a client or buyer commissions the production of a photograph and pays for such a work, the client/buyer automatically holds the copyright on the photograph and/or �engraving – not the photographer or person who created the �engraving – unless the buyer and photographer/creator have an agreement to the contrary.


So.  If you hire a photographer, unless you sign an agreement to the contrary, you automatically own the copyright on the photos taken as soon as you fnish paying for them.



Crofton Forks – a Dungeons and Dragons Adventure Setting

I’m working on an adventure setting for Dungeons and Dragons. Sami and I are planning on playing for the first time in a long time, so I started thinking about a place to run some really simple adventures. As so often is the case, the idea has blossomed and grown. Now I’ve got a few cities and towns built, and idea, and I’m working on the background.

So much for a simple “go kill some orcs and re-learn D&D combat before we play with our group” adventure. Actually – that’ll still happen. This is just the setting building blocks – giving me a setting of my own to tell my own stories in.

If you like it, you can use it yourself, or modify it for your use. I’m going to be releasing it under a Creative Commons licence – so it’ll be free to use as long as you give attribution where it’s due.

You can go check out my Crofton Forks blog if you like, that’s where I’ll be organizing the information. This is in a way I guess, my first foray into self publishing – however, it’s not for pay – just a way to stretch my legs a bit.

Let me know what you think.

Self Publishing?

I’m thinking of finishing a story I’ve been working on and putting it up online as an electronic book. I would ask for donations that could be mailed or paypal-ed to me if you liked the story.

This has been done successfully before, but by much greater writers than myself. John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow ( who coincidentally, I just found out, is Canadian. Eh!) come to mind especially.

So – good idea or bad. Feedback?


The counterpoint to this of course is, where in heck will I find the time!  I’m already so far behind on life I think I’m ahead.  Have you seen that pregnancy counter in the upper right hand corner?  63 days!  Yikes.  But if it’s a way to start publishing and maybe meet my goals, then it’s worth making the time right.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

A note concerning the last post.

First of all, and further to the last post, I want to give some kudo’s to the Library of Congress for putting these photos on flickr.  It’s pretty cool that someone there had the bright idea to share them on a public, super popular, photo sharing venue, instead of putting them on their own gov’t served webpage where dramatically fewer people would be exposed to them.

Further, it makes economical sense in a couple of ways.  First, they don’t have to foot the bandwidth bill for constant use of them – flickr is doing that.  In return flickr has an archive of historical photos that are royalty free.  Secondly, some of the people on the internet may very well be able to provide interesting and pertinant commentary and insight to these photos – something that I dare say would not have happened to the same extent had they only been hosted at the LoC website.

Example, a comment on Wil Wheaton’s Blog:

OK, this is weird. One of the very first photos is of a barn in the Catskills. The angle of the June sun puts the viewing angle as SE, and with the distance of the Catskill Mountains in the background, I would place this photo within 10-15 miles of the farm where I grew up. I can see why my grandfather bought those 400 acres in 1940. With a view like this, Brooklyn must’ve seemed a purgatory.

People often forget when they’re paying their taxes that these things are supported too.  That good works are being done by the the Gov’t. (this is an US example, but our Canuckian Canadian Gov’t is doing some good things too.)

I’m not going to make spiel about contacting your MP’s/Congresscritters or anything here – but I am going to make note that although we may not see  all the good projects are governments are involved in, but they do exist.  So it’s a good reminder to find someone to publicly or privately thank for those we like and support, and voice our opposition to those we don’t – otherwise, no institution, no matter how right thinking, can correctly gauge the community support for the projects proposed to it.

Library of Congress puts thousands of photos on Flickr

Through Wil Wheaton I found out about these awesome two photo sets.   The Library of Congress put over 3100 photos on flickr.  They all seem to have no copyright restrictions, being public domain photos archived by the LoC.  I’ve gone through a hundred or so of them, and a couple have made my favourites list at flickr already.  Some great stuff here, esp. the 40’s ones that are in colour, which is something you don’t normally get to see.

Quoth the Wil:

“File this under Coolest Damn Thing I’ve Seen All Day: The Library of Congress put over 3100 pictures on Flickr:

Library of Congress staff often make digital versions of our popular image collections available online as quickly as possible by relying primarily on the identifying information that came with the original photos. That text can be incomplete and is even inaccurate at times. We welcome your contribution of names, descriptions, locations, tags, and also your general reactions.

It’s divided into two different sets:

1930s-40s in Color:

These vivid color photos from the Great Depression and World War II capture an era generally seen only in black-and-white. Photographers working for the United States Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) created the images between 1939 and 1944.

News events in the 1910s:

Welcome to the daily news scene from almost a hundred years ago, as photographed by the Bain News Service in about 1910-1912. We invite your tags and comments! Also, lots more identification information. (Most of these old photos came to the Library of Congress with very little description.)

This selected set of 1,500 photographs is from a large collection of almost 40,000 glass negatives. The entire collection spans 1900-1920 and richly documents sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, and political activities, with a special emphasis on life in New York City.

I’ve only looked at a few dozen of these pictures, but they’re just astonishingly beautiful. Many of them have a haunting quality, as well, and would make great Ficlet inspiration.”

As Seen on Slashdot, 2.

Slashdot (News for Nerds) has an article pointing towards another article (don’t you love the day and age of the news blog?) about “Fair Use of commercial video and music as raw material for new creations.

I havn’t read “TFA”(The F*cking Article, for those who don’t read slashdot in their spare time) I have gone and read TFA, and it’s … ok.  The best part of the article  may (like slashdot) be in the comments, some of which are very well written and communicated, bringing up interesting issues.

Reading through the comments at slashdot I did find one particular gem – an explanation by the user Curunir that is a great example of what “copyright” actually is, and who/what it is meant to protect. Comment below, because I felt like sharing.

“One thing I found interesting about the article is that the entertainment lawyer makes one good point while trying to make a point that is almost the opposite.

From the article:

But, as a technical legal matter, fair use is not a “right,” a misconception and misstatement frequently made these days.

While his point is that fair use is more of a privilege than a right, I think there’s a much different interpretation of what he’s saying that is important to consider.

He’s absolutely correct that fair use isn’t a right, it’s an exception. But it’s an exception to the rights of the copyright holder. And this distinction is important because it underscores how entertainment companies misrepresent copyright. Rather than copyright defining the few excepted uses allowed to people/entities who don’t hold the copyright, it actually defines the few rights granted exclusively to the copyright holder.

And this is an important observation about the intent of copyright. Namely, that anything not explicitly granted to the copyright holder is permissible rather than forbidden. The big content producers would like copyright to be a limited set of things that we (those not producing the content) are allowed to do with their content, which they believe they own. But when defending our rights, it’s important to remember that copyright is actually a limited set of things that we’re not allowed to do and that content cannot be owned, only protected. And this is the principle that should be applied whenever something falls outside of what is explicitly stated in the Copyright Act…that everything not covered is allowed rather than forbidden.”

Canuck DMCA, Dead or just biding it’s time?

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.

CBC’s Search Engine article.

The Globe and Mail’s article, New copyright law starts Web storm.