copyright reform

Long-awaited copyright bill returns, but top court to wade in too

Long-awaited copyright bill returns, but top court to wade in too.

The above link is to an article from The Winnipeg Free Press, which confirms that the government intends on re-introducing Bill C-32, as is.

Copyright Reform In New Session

It appears that Bill C-32 will be re-introduced into Parliament virtually intact, according to Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro.

In a Toronto Sun interview Del Mastro claimed that as a member of the special legislative committee on Bill C-32 he had not heard “a lot that was overly critical of the bill” from the many witnesses that testified for this committee.

Del Mastro believes that minor changes will be made to the legislation prior to its introduction by the newly appointed Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis. But the opposition, the NDP, state they will introduce amendments and negotiate with the government “Clause by Clause“.

The New Democrat Party have stated they support the extention of the blank audio media levy to mp3 players including iPods but oppose the digital lock provisions found in Bill C-32.

NDP MP Charlie Angus had introduced Private Members Bill C-499 last March, which would have enacted a levy on mp3 players.

So, what does it mean ?

As you may have heard the Conservative Party was elected as a majority in Canadian Parliament yesterday, the New Democratic Party having been elected into the opposition. And you must be wondering what next ?

Well, it obvious that copyright reform will likely be on the agenda shortly.

When the election was called Bill C-32 died whilst it was being reviewed by a legislative committee, the legislation’s digital lock provisions having been a major issue.

Had Bill C-32 passed, consumers in Canada would have been able to make private copies but would not have been able to circumvent copy protection to do it.

This meant that the counsumer would again be subjected to the whims and experimentations of the film and music distributors, who in the past had attempted to impose digital locks that kept people from copying material, even for personal use, to the extent that it caused security issues (i.e Sony BMG’s rootkit).

Basically Bill C-32 appeared to give the music and film industries an ability to disable private copying whenever it suited them, independently from the democratic process, whilst possibly giving them the ability to impose additional levies to conform to several World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. And of course this didn’t bode well with the Canadian consumer, who refused to pay the exhorbitant rates proposed on iPods/mp3 players and were wary of RIAA style copyright litigation.

Format shifting, the ability to copy copyrighted material from one medium or device to another, will probably remain a major issue in the forthcoming new copyright reform bill. And i’m hoping we have progressed on the issue.

The majority of consumers simply want more control in regards to the accessibility and portability of the content they purchase. They should not be subjected to obtuse allegations of piracy nor should be subjected to levies or taxes on devices on which they store legally purchased material.

Royalties are obtained from this legally purchased material, some of which is dependant on the existance of devices that enable the consumer to access this material.

For example, if it weren’t for iPods and mp3 players the consumer would not be purchasing music downloads from legal distributors, who pay royalties to rights agencies.

Levies on such devices may sound good to some artists but in reality it would result in fewer purchases because the consumer would eventually be presented these extra costs by the manufacturers. After all, the WIPO treaty ratifications would have resulted in additional levies for foreign content, resulting in prohibitive costs for the consumer.

This may be being sold as a compensation scheme for artists and composers but in reality quite a large amount of levies collected from the sale of blank audio media failed to be distributed from the current levy.

According to the Canadian Private Copyright Collective ‘s financial highlights, only $183,301,000 of the $284,878,000 collected from 1999 to 2009 was distributed. And nearly 11% of the monies collected were used as expendatures by the collective itself.

One can only guess how much of these levies would remain available for distribution if international copyright owners were to get levies. But is clear that all of these schemes would be quite costly to the consumer.

In March 2002, the CPCC had requested a rate of $21 per gig, as publisized in the Canada Gazette, and the Copyright Board had decided on a rate of $15 or $25 per device in December 2003 until having their decision overturned by the Federal Court Of Appeal, twice.

I certianly hope both the Conservatives and New Democrats appreciate the fact that this is not the time to hinder the sale of consumer products by introducing costly levies that fail to be distributed to the artists and composers.

Government Fails. Bill C-32 is Dead

The Copyright Modernization Act has died because of today’s non-confidence vote.

Bill C-32 had been proposed by Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, and had referred to a Legislative Committee headed by Gordon Brown, MP for Leeds—Grenville (Ontario).

Hopefully it will be re-introduced minus some of the more questionable Digital Lock restrictions.

Copyright Reform In Canada

Just thought i’d bump an interesting collection of articles on copyright reform in Canada : From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright”: Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda

The individual articles found at the above mentioned link are in the PDF format are are downloadable in respect to the Creative Commons Legal Code.