Canada’s Copyright Consultation Has Many Talking

It’s been quite a first few days for the copyright consultation. For some, copyright seems like an obscure and boring subject, but for those familiar with technology, it’s more than likely a huge political battle ground. Many Canadians might even be re-discovering that while positions might vary on the sensitive subject, most Canadians seem to be finding how practically unanimous they are in their opposition over the previous copyright reform legislation.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Already, there are over 450 responses to one page alone on the consultation website. Skimming through the comments, one quickly notes that comments that are for restricting copyright are few and far between (with many comments disagreeing with those who were for restricting copyright laws) People from all walks of life, from educators to artists to DJs to software developers to average consumers to librarians (etc.) have been gravitating to the copyright consultation to express their frustrations with DRM and how Fair Use isn’t broad enough. There was even the odd comment on how even if file-sharing is criminalized, the punishment should fit the crime (something that has been a huge controversy in the US over the conviction of Jammie Thomas who was fined $1.92 Million for sharing 24 songs.

Michael Geist has been tracking the copyright consultation. He already pointed to formal submissions received in the first two days. He also set up to help spread the word about the consultation in Canada.

In the midst of all this, Geist did submit his own comments advocating a more flexible fair dealings, abolishing crown copyrights, and instituting a notice-and-notice regime (as opposed to the notice-and-takedown scheme heavily promoted by CRIA, the Canadian arm of the RIAA)

Geist also pointed to several other submissions. One was by a user named “Saskboy” who recommended a copyright term of 18 years and that people should be charged for copyright violations if there is demonstrable harm done to the industry (perhaps, as opposed to the hypothetical harm which has been a reoccurring theme by the industry as they target users for copyright infringement online) as well as telling other countries to “go copyright themselves” if they don’t like Canadian laws.

Another posting by Tyler Laing noted how smaller artists make virtually no money through the major recording industry even though the industry sells thousands or millions of albums. As an example, he points to a Courtney Love article which highlighted this reality.

I personally submitted my own comments which had numerous suggestions which mentions idea’s promoted by others. Other suggestions I included were instituting a “use it or lose it” regime for copyright holders, accessible liability for false infringement claims, recognizing internet access as a right, protection from state mandated censorship and surveillance for the purpose of copyright enforcement, extending the safe harbour regime to include services and other creators, ending patents on human life, and heavily scrutinizing ACTA.

The Canadian Coalition for Digital Rights advocates a fair dealings that protects backing up content, users being protected from statutory damages, and a system that doesn’t just put a blanket ban on circumvention.

There’s been coverage in the Torontoist, the Edmonton Sun, and the Vancouver Media Co op.

Realistically speaking, if you wanted to find those who were for restricting copyright laws, you had to dig deep into the consultation to find those straggling comments. The CBC was eventually able to find someone who was for restricting copyright, ACTRA. Amazingly, ACTRA said that digital locks are an “important issue in terms of preventing piracy.” Perhaps a challenge is in order. Name three albums or movies that never made it to p2p strictly because of DRM and not because of obscurity. Even the content protection, BD+, found on BluRay discs have been cracked in 2008. All that over top of the fact that the DRM protecting WMA files was crackable via FairUseforWM back in 2007 (A DRM that was, before 2007, considered uncrackable) So, in reality, in terms of preventing works from entering the p2p ecosystem, DRM as a solution has been little more than a pipe dream promoted by DRM vendors.

Right now, the only thing left so far in the consultation is the transcripts of the first closed door round-tables which may prove to be interesting.

Geist is also tracking general comments on the consultation as well.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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