Canadian Copyright Organization: This Is War Against Consumers
from the you-want-to-know-your-problem? dept
Wow. One of the key points in William Patry’s excellent new book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (on which we’ll have more soon — and a signed copy of which is available in our Techdirt Book Club) is that the big defenders of stronger and stronger copyrights have taken and twisted the semantics around copyright issues to make it sound like a “war.” It’s a “battle” to “protect your property” against “pirates” who want to “steal” it. They’re using rhetoric to turn what is effectively a business model issue into something like a crusade that has nothing to do with reasoned arguments about how to actually “promote the progress” (the key reason for copyright).
I can’t think of anything that demonstrates this twisted language any better than how Access Copyright (a licensing agency in Canada) has offered up a call to arms to get its members to fight back against those darn “users” who are looking to destroy copyright (thanks Rob!). As you hopefully know, Canada has been hosting a consultation about new copyright laws, and folks like Michael Geist have done a great job getting the public involved in the discussion. If you look at the submissions, the vast majority are in favor of protecting important user rights — key points that have been missing from previous attempts to update copyright law in Canada.
Now, a reasonable discussion on these issues might look at the different trade-offs and such in granting these rights, but that’s not what Access Copyright is doing. Instead, it screams out that the debate is being “dominated by individuals who do not agree you should get fair compensation for digital and other reproductions of your works.” Of course, nothing is further from the truth. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think that creators should get fair compensation — but we feel they need to earn that by putting in place a good business model where people hand over money willingly. Instead, many who can only look to the past, want to pretend that if they just put in place stronger copyright laws, all the amazing things that new technologies allow will magically go away, and people will just start paying again. This is a fantasy.
But rather than deal with reality, Access Copyright, presents it as “us vs. them” with “them” outnumbering “us.” The most stunning statement of all:
It’s a simple fact that users outnumber us. But Canadian users involved in the online debate are so adept at leveraging the internet and social networks to their advantage, there’s a danger that your voices as Canadian creators and publishers will be drowned out by the chatter.
Think about that fact for a second. Access Copyright is talking about customers here. The people who actually determine the real value of whatever content creators make. And Access Copyright is flat-out insulting them, by making them out to be an unruly mob that content creators need to fight. Copyright is supposed to be about what’s best for society as a whole, in encouraging the production of more works. It should be a win-win situation. But here Access Copyright is stating flat-out that the desires of users to protect their own rights is somehow something that needs to be forcibly denied.
If you want to understand why these industries are dying, the evidence is right here. When you treat your customers as the enemy, don’t be surprised if they go away. It’s not because of “piracy” or “the internet.” It’s because these content creators are treating their best customers as anything but customers.
And, of course, Access Copyright peppers its call for participation with false claims about these unruly “users” trying to stop them from getting paid:
It’s only right, it’s only fair. Creators need to get paid.
Sounds good, right? Except no one is saying they shouldn’t get paid, so this is a total strawman. The question is just about how these laws should work to protect user rights, and how to make sure the laws actually live up to their key point: which is to act as incentive, not as some sort of welfare system or crutch for those too uncreative to come up with business models that recognize the role of abundance in a market.
Copyright isn’t a war. It’s not us vs. them. It’s about creating a system where society is best off and key incentives are in place to create more content. Our own complaints against those who push for stronger copyrights aren’t about an “us vs. them” attitude. We’ve been quite happy to cheer on smart moves by those who have made mistakes before. Our only concerns are that the end result should be the best for everyone. Not a small group of folks trying to protect an old business model.
Apparently, Access Copyright thinks the laws are just for them.