Government retreats on copyright reform

A Canadian news story on a momentary stalling of the entrenchment of the copyright culture in Canada. The weight of this culture of permission, of closed access, is felt especially heavily in Canadian universities, where royalties are collected, presumably on the behalf of authors, while restricting the extent of access to any given author’s work. In the meantime, as a result of this tithe, a new bureaucracy is formed, precisely to extract the tithe…and guess who pays for that bureaucracy? Both authors and students, first and foremost, who pay for a system that serves neither. Incidentally, years later, nobody has ever sent me a cheque for the articles of mine that have been used in course readers–somebody is collecting money in my name and then keeping it. If they do pay, they will have subtracted an amount for their salaries, which I, as well as other authors, never authorized. Theft is routinely institutionalized by both the state and private sector, that much will be news to very few.

This is a story from the CBC:

Minister of Industry Jim Prentice delays plan to introduce controversial bill


But Prentice backtracked on the plan after more than 50 angry protestors showed up to question him at the meeting, and an online group formed to oppose it on social networking site Facebook. The group was started by University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, a chief opponent of the legislation, on Dec. 1. More than 20,000 Facebook users have joined the group since then.

A protest is also scheduled to be held at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Dec. 18.

Critics said the proposed legislation will mirror the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act and take a hard line against the copying of digital materials. Geist accused Prentice of caving in to lobbying from U.S. entertainment companies, who are seeking to curtail digital copying in all its forms.

Writing in his blog on Thursday, Geist said the delay was an opportunity for Prentice to revisit the legislation.

“This is Prentice’s moment. He has an opportunity to brush aside the momentary embarrassment of the delays and instead work toward a genuine copyright balance by reaching out to all Canadians,” he wrote.

“As astonishing number of people have voiced their concern over the past two weeks and the government seems to have listened. Now it must act by openly consulting and engaging with a country that genuinely cares about copyright.”


A large number of Canadian musicians, however, do not support ACTRA’s position and are concerned that industry bodies are not speaking in their interests. A number of high-profile acts, including the Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan and Avril Lavigne launched the Canadian Music Creators Coalition in May to speak on their behalf.

“It’s short-sighted to say ‘See you in court’ one day and ‘See you at Massey Hall’ the next,” said Barenaked Ladies frontman and coalition spokesman Steven Page. “If the Canadian government wants to reform copyright, it should be creating a made-in-Canada solution that looks to where the music industry is going, not where it was.”