Canada Steals Cultural Works From The Public By Extending Copyright Terms
from the stealing-from-the-public dept
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: it cannot make sense to extend copyright terms retroactively. The entire point of copyright law is to provide a limited monopoly on making copies of the work as an incentive to get the work produced. Assuming the work was produced, that says that the bargain that was struck was clearly enough of an incentive for the creator. They were told they’d receive that period of exclusivity and thus they created the work.
Going back and retroactively extending copyright then serves no purpose. Creators need no incentive for works already created. The only thing it does is steal from the public. That’s because the “deal” setup by governments creating copyright terms is between the public (who is temporarily stripped of their right to share knowledge freely) and the creator. But if we extend copyright term retroactively, the public then has their end of the bargain (“you will be free to share these works freely after such-and-such a date”) changed, with no recourse or compensation.
That makes no sense.
And yet, countries keep doing it.
Canada has quietly done it: extending copyrights on literary, dramatic or musical works and engravings from life of the author plus 50 years year to life of the author plus 70 years.
Quietly on November 17, 2022, and appearing online this morning, an Order in Council was issued on behalf of Her Excellency the Governor General, on the recommendation of the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to fix December 30, 2022 as the day Bill C-19, Division 16 of Part 5 comes into force. What does this all mean? With the passing of Bill C-19 this past June, the Copyright Act was amended to extend the term of copyright for literary, dramatic or musical works and engravings to life of the author plus a period of 70 years following the end of the calendar year in which that author dies. What was unclear at the time of royal assent was WHEN exactly this would come into force — if on or after January 1, 2023, one more year of works would enter the public domain. Unfortunately, we now know that this date has been fixed as December 30, 2022, meaning that no new works will enter the Canadian public domain for the next 20 years.
This should be a huge scandal. The public has been stripped of its rights to share information for twenty years. Based on what? Literally nothing, but demands from heirs of deceased authors to continue to receive subsidies from the very public they just stripped the rights from.
It is beyond ridiculous that any country in the world is extending copyright in this day and age, rather than decreasing it.