by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 18th 2010 10:02pm
from the oh-really? dept
Separately, with so much pressure coming from other countries, we wondered if Canada would be able to resist implementing ever more draconian copyright laws, which would be a serious drain on the Canadian economy. So far they have resisted, but the pressure from outside continues to be fierce. We recently noted that US lobbyists and lawyers were insisting that Canada needed to be dragged into the 21st century, and now European trade negotiators are pushing hard on Canada to change its copyright laws despite no actual evidence of any problem with existing laws.
But what's most troubling of all is that these trade reps don't seem to care at all what Canadian citizens had to say. Despite receiving thousands of well-argued, well-thought-out statements concerning Canadian copyright law, EU trade negotiators are dismissing the whole process as "a tactic to confuse." To confuse who? About what? Holding an open discussion with citizens, rather than just backroom deals to protect a small group of companies? I'd argue that's the very opposite of a tactic to confuse, but rather it's a tactic to enlighten.
Tue, Sep 1st 2009 7:30am
from the please-make-the-future-stop dept
Most industry speakers presented emotional pleas, with little in the way of serious suggestions. They focused on a "right to get paid" and "fair compensation" (without talk of providing a reason to buy), while Canada was portrayed as a "lawless society," rampant with property "theft" and hostile to "legitimate" business (despite evidence to the contrary). A writer stunningly declared that "[more flexible] fair dealing would be a disaster for creators," while SOCAN claimed that adding "unwarranted" fair dealing provisions would be asking creators "work for nothing" (even though flexible fair dealing would be a lot like fair use in the US -- hardly a disaster). The President of Warner Music Canada talked about disappearing jobs, and many industry employees painted a dire picture of colleagues and artists struggling to make ends meet (with little mention of any success stories). Yet, when the occasional concrete recommendation was made, it was to implement a notice-and-takedown system (ripe for abuse), extend the
It wasn't argument. It was the language of moral panics.
The Canadian record industry was demanding to be lied to, to be told that more restrictive copyright laws will save their business. Though fewer and fewer people can convincingly tell the lie, they seemed perfectly capable of convincing each other that restrictive copyright legislation might somehow stop the market from changing (even with a decade of hindsight on the DMCA). It's tragic, because hard working people who love music and love working for artists are losing their jobs, but the industry continues to block the sort of innovations that could provide it with a way forward. A lawyer described the music industry as a "copyright industry," even though most artists and companies who are figuring out how to make money in the digital economy are successful despite copyright -- not because of it.
Artist voices were few (nevermind consumer voices), which is disappointing because many Canadian creator groups are adopting more forward thinking approaches, proposing solutions that don't involve criminalizing common consumer behavior. Now... most creators echoed the industry in supporting the levy and its expansion to digital audio players and even ISPs, and some asked for new royalties and more collective licensing, but that's much better than demanding stricter laws and enforcement mechanisms. The problem remains though, that although collective licensing may be a move in the right direction, short-term revenue from additional royalties and levies also increases barriers to innovation, making it harder for new sustainable long-term business models to emerge. Artists and creators need to find a way to earn money that's based on a solid economic ground, instead of depending on levies that can quickly become absurd. That's where the record industry should be able to help them out.
Artists and creators need to be able to experiment with new business models, but the copyright crutch gets in the way. They turn to levies and licensing because they can't imagine how else to make money, but successes have been outside of the copyright system. Canada needs innovative companies to help artists and creators find digital business models, not to chase fictive legislative solutions. If the Canadian record industry isn't willing to help creators with what's next, they need to clear out of the way.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 24th 2009 6:25am
from the one-hopes... dept
For years, a growing number of folks have worked hard to try to amplify the public's voice on these issues. They've been trying to make it clear that greater copyright isn't an unequivocal "good thing" and that it has many real and significant downsides as well. The internet has been an amazing tool in making this happen, but it's still not enough. In the US, for example, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many politicians actually recognize the downsides to over protection from copyright... and still have enough fingers to wag at the rest of our elected officials. The situation in Canada appears to be just slightly better, however. Michael Geist deserves a lot of the credit for that. He was the one who rallied the public the last few years when Canadian politicians tried to rush through draconian copyright changes to the system, pushed directly by US copyright interests.
While some Canadian politicians appear to have recognized some of the issues, that doesn't mean most still aren't under the false belief that more copyright is good, and what the industry reps claim is "good" is actually good for the public. So, as the Canadian gov't has begun a consultation over new copyright laws, Geist is trying to make sure that the public's voice is actually heard this time. He's launched a website called Speak Out On Copyright that tries to track the online discussion (from all over the internet) on copyright issues and help the public become much more involved in the consultation process. He's also kicked it off with his own response to the consultation, which is well worth a read.
It's still an uphill battle. The recording industry has said that they thought the bill that died last year, which so many had protested as being way too draconian, was actually too tame and did not go far enough. They've asked for the moon -- including anti-circumvention clauses, three strikes and copyright term extension. And most politicians will still hear their voice the loudest, and think that it's representative. But maybe, just maybe, the actual public -- the real people impacted by these things -- can get their voice heard in a way that has a real impact and prevents new laws that don't serve the public, don't encourage more creativity and serve only to prop-up and protect one industry's old and obsolete business model.
Is it enough to make a difference? The fact that it actually exists is already a difference. It may not stop those powerful, connected and well-funded lobbyists from pushing through bad legislation, but hopefully the voice of the public will actually at least play a role in what happens.
Fri, Mar 13th 2009 1:43pm
from the is-nothing-private? dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 23rd 2008 3:08pm
from the staying-public-is-dangerous dept
by Timothy Lee
Mon, Dec 3rd 2007 10:11am
from the public-or-private? dept
The same principle applies in cyberspace: the fact that a communications forum is "public" doesn't necessarily mean that people are comfortable with it being recorded, archived, published, and indexed by search engines. Unfortunately the online world is so new that the relevant social conventions have yet to fully emerge. Facebook, for example, caught a lot of flack when they introduced news feeds that let you keep tabs on your friends' actions. That resistance appears to have largely evaporated as people discovered how useful the feature could be. By the same token, IRSeeK could turn out to be a very useful service, and so initial resistance shouldn't necessarily be a reason to abandon the idea. A search engine could be particularly useful for tech support forums, because it would allow users who had a particular problem to search the logs for references to their particular problem before asking about it.
But it's important that IRSeeK help to develop clear social norms so that people know when their conversations are being recorded and how the archives will be used. And to their credit, they appear to be doing just that. It has announced that the search engine will be suspended until they've found ways to address the community's concerns, and it also mentions several measure it's considering to address the community's concerns. The most important, from my perspective, is to develop an analogue to the web's robots.txt file, so that IRC operators have a straightforward way to opt out of archives and search engines. IRSeeK also mentions giving their bots standard names so that other IRC users will know their statements are being recorded. And it may avoid indexing nicknames to make it harder to track a given user's activities across multiple IRC channels. IRSeeK's swift response to community outrage and its apparent willingness to modify its services to address community concerns suggests that it may successfully navigate these tricky issues and come up with a service that's genuinely useful without being overly intrusive.