Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fair copyright for Canada: Stop the Canadian DMCA

This movie, Why Copyright is available under a Creative Commons license that permits non-commercial re-use.

Despite months of consultation with Canadians, the federal government is expected to come out with a US-style copyright act in about three weeks.

Excessive copyright restrictions and digital rights management hurts artists, fans, and our digital heritage.

Who benefits? Follow the money. The RIAA and MPAA and their Canadian equivalents are lobbying hard for draconian controls. As middlemen between the artists and the fans, they want to control the information so that they can stay on the gravy train.

The middlemen want their outdated business model preserved. They don't want to change, even though they are being outpaced by technology.

The Canadian Music Creators Coalition wrote a letter asking that policy be guided by three principles: That suing music fans is destructive and hypocritical, that digital locks are risky and counterproductive, and that cultural policy should support actual Canadian artists.

Unfair laws won't curb infringement either. Only fair copyright law can balance the rights of users and creators.

Industry needs to update it's business model, rather than stagnating in the present. Remember, they fought against VCRs too, then discovered that selling videos to people could be lucrative. Business models have to change with the technology.

Copyright law is about protecting the artists and the public. It should not be up to government to enshrine particular business models, especially in an age where technology can change so quickly.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) can also censor our cultural history. With anti-circumvention provisions present in US legislation, once rights managed media could easily be lost to history.

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore has indicated that he would rather we waited until we see the completed bill before voicing our opinions. That amounts to a politician saying 'please butt out, I don't want your input' on a very important issue. Once the legislation is written it's much less flexible. The time to let the federal ministers know how you feel about fair copyright is now.

We can't trust our history, our information or our public discourse to the whimsy of private corporations. Visit the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights at to send letters to your federal representatives. It will take about two minutes, and you can edit and personalize your letter completely. This issue is only going to become more important as the era of digital media is on the rise. Send your letters today.

related links:

Video: Why Copyright? Canadian Voices on Copyright Law

Learn more about the issue:

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