Posted by: Richard Schwier | August 4, 2009

Copyright Town Hall Meeting in Montreal

As you know, CNIE is invested in creating positive change in new Canadian copyright legislation, and maybe just as important, in educating legislators about what educators need and why they need it. At the recent town hall meeting on Copyright in Montreal, Maureen Baron attended on behalf of CNIE. Here are her notes from the meeting. This is a repost from the CNIE listserv, and I encourage readers to sign up for it.

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Summary of the Canadian Copyright Consultation Montreal Town Hall Meeting, July 30, 2009. by Maureen Baron, President of CNIE

The following is a summation of what I heard at the Canadian Copyright Consultation Town Hall held in Montreal on July 30th, 2009. The entire consultation Town Hall meeting lasted approximately 2 hours during which time people were allowed to speak for two minutes. Speakers were asked to identify themselves by name, to state who they represented, to explain how copyright laws impacted them and to describe what guiding principles should be included in the law. Neither the Minister James Moore, nor the Deputy Minister, Jean Blais, engaged in any meaningful conversation with the speakers. They were there to listen with the Minister taking notes as people spoke.

The webcast of the Montreal session is available at http://copyright.econsultation.ca/topics-sujets/show-montrer/24 .

Maureen Baron, President of CNIE was the first speaker from the floor and respected the two minute time limit. I spoke about the need to understand that a classroom is no longer a physical room but now can be a physical, virtual and or personal learning and teaching space. This applies to all students from k-12 to postsecondary, home schooled, distance education, and on site students. Therefore all students must have equal access to the same learning and teaching resources to be used under the same conditions. As well, the thirty (30) day time limit on the retention of electronic course / learning materials is unrealistic. If a person teaches the same course several times a year they cannot destroy and then recreate all of the course materials several times a year. That is onerous and impractical.

Maureen Baron’s interpretations of points raised by the speakers:
1. The artists (musicians, writers, producers performers, etc.) want to “monetize” the Internet. They say they and their industries are losing significant amounts of money because of file sharing, plagiarism, pirating, downloading and uploading on the Web. They need laws and digital tools to prevent this sharing and to ensure fair payment, compensation and protection for their work and livelihoods.
2. Creators must have legal tools to protect their work because they do not have the economic resources to go after big companies that may steal their work nor to always use the legal system for economic redress for copyright infringement.
3. Content creators should have more rights or stronger rights than the publishers or broadcasters so that more money goes to the creators rather than the disseminators of the works.
4. Distinctions should be made between copying for commercial gain and copying for private use once the work has been legally acquired and paid for.
5. The university students want educational exemptions so that they can share research documents and the learning resources from their professors and institutions. The current laws impede their ability to fully utilize the electronic learning resources.
6. The education and library sectors are asking for Fair Use rather than Fair Dealing, something more like the American model.
7. Crown Copyrights should be abolished.
8. Breaking the DRM (Digital Rights Management) should not be a criminal offence especially if it is for personal use or to use foreign resources in an educational setting such as the study of Media Literacy or Film Studies. DRM was described by one speaker as extortion.
9. The clearing of copyrights for broadcasters and documentary producers has become a nightmare because of the different groups that must be contacted and the different rules for what may be used and when and how. The speakers asked for one copyright clearing agency that would be able to handle everything – all formats, venues etc.
10. The law should not be based on formats or modes of delivery as these are always changing and developing. Instead the law should be based on use and the end user as this will avoid always having to change the law because of new technologies, formats, media, platforms, distribution channels or tools.
11. Net neutrality must be respected.
12. The law should take into account the different economic levels and resources of the end users.
13. Several people spoke about the need to make the ISPs responsible for the online activity of their clients especially regarding pirating and illegal file sharing. Others raised the point that this would harm privacy protection under the Charter of Rights.
14. A speaker who identified himself as a “hired gun attorney” for companies wanted a “take down notice” to be put into the law.
15. The Canadian song writers professional association has a plan to “monitize” the use of their work on the Internet and this plan is available on their website. Basically they want the ISP’s to charge, collect and redistribute to them, a fee for the use of music from the web. They suggested a fee of $4-$5 a month.

16. Canadian content should be protected as should the people who create the content and this can be done by making users pay a fair price for the Canadian Content. Canadians will need to develop new business models for this.

CNIE will deposit an electronic submission on Canadian Copyright for the future through the government website http://copyright.econsultation.ca/?Current_rec_ID=436 . However, we encourage members to deposit their personal submission or one from their place of employment. The more people the government hears from, the better informed they will be and hopefully the better positioned to create a just Canadian Copyright law that will work for all Canadians in the commercial, educational, library and personal use sectors.


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