Copyright Face Off in Canada

Some may remember back in June when open letters from many groups surfaced online. In July, the CBA (Canadian Bar Association) also issued an open letter that disputed with some of the idea’s from the surveillance bill.

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

Many of these groups and coalitions pursued varying objectives. Most of these objectives appear to be disagreeing with associations that include the CRIA’s (Canadian Recording Industry Association) vision.

Recently, CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation/Le front des artistes Canadians) issued a press release; which states, “Many of the proposals put forth in Bill C-60, the last attempt to reform the Copyright Act, were agreeable to artists. Unfortunately Bill C-60 died on the order table with the last government, but much of it would be worth putting forward again. The reforms that would put Canada in line with the World Intellectual Property Organization agreements are a good thing, as is the proposal to protect the rights of photographers, printmakers, and portraitists in the same way as other artists are protected. CARFAC and RAAV would like to see better protections against internet piracy than were proposed in C-60. They do not want to see exceptions for educational institutions concerning the use of materials on the internet in the classroom, rather they support the idea that these can be licensed in the same manner as photocopied material is licensed.”

The Appropriation Art – A Coalition of Art Professionals, who were apart of the batch of letters with a differing opinion to what might be found above wrote a response to the press release with surprise as well as criticising a number of key points made by CARFAC.

“The CARFAC press release takes a surprising position against many artists,” wrote the response, “and displays a lack of understanding about contemporary art practice.”

The response also includes the following, “CARFAC takes a stand against a legitimate and significant group of Canadian artists and art professionals. Such a drastic shift in their policy should have been brought before CARFAC members prior to issuing the press release. The open letter sent by the Appropriation Art Coalition to the Minister of Heritage was approved by each signatory prior to sending and clearly represents an issue of vital concern to members.”

CARFAC accused the Appropriation Art Coalition of being “alarmist” – to which they responded, “This misrepresents the tenor of the Appropriation Art letter. The urgent nature of the open letter from the Appropriation Art Coalition stems from the simple fact that copyright legislation is being drafted now. […] Urgency is not alarmist – in this instance it is prudent.”

CARFAC said, “Many of the proposals put forth in Bill C-60, the last attempt to reform the Copyright Act, were agreeable to artists.” Appropriation Art responded, “We know of no published results that would lead CARFAC to such a sweeping conclusion. It is more likely that artists are unfamiliar and uncertain of the contents of Bill C-60.”

CARFAC said, “The reforms that would put Canada in line with the World Intellectual Property Organization agreements are a good thing”
Appropriation Art response: “Ratifying WIPO treaties would greatly benefit the American content industry (film, music, TV, and broadcast) and harm Canadian artists. These treaties would increase foreign royalties leading to hundreds of millions of dollars of cultural spending leaving Canada and going to predominantly the USA.”

While it doesn’t appear to be clear what is going into the Canadian Copyright reform bill, it does appear to be clear that lines are being drawn on copyright issues.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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