Russell McOrmond's blog

WIPO's World Intellectual Property day ideal for discussing WIPO failures

Each year WIPO declares April 26'th as their "World Intellectual Property Day", and I consider this to be an ideal time to hilight the harm that WIPO's narrow-minded policies cause to creativity and other human rights documented within the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I'm of two minds on CRTC mandatory carriage hearings

As I read The Wire Report and Michael Geist's blog reporting on the CRTC's mandatory distribution hearings, I am of two minds.

On one hand I've intervened in front of the CRTC in the past to state that I believe that broadcasters have to choose between mandatory carriage and fee for carriage, with the CRTC never granting both. The only channels that should be mandatory on BDU's (cable, satellite) are those which have no carriage fees. The CRTC may mandate that the channels be offered in an a-la-carte fashion, but never part of the basic package.

On the other hand, I think increasing the price to the point that more people disconnect from BDU's can only be a good thing in the long run.

Access Copyright’s Lawsuit against York University

Universities have been slow in modernizing how they fund educational material, but have finally been moving away from post-payment (primarily monopoly rent seeking) to pre-payment where the authoring, editing and other works is paid up-front with the results shareable royalty-free.  Doing things as post-payments has allowed third parties to extract huge amounts from educational budgets, and it is far past time that universities took responsibility for these costs downloaded on students and the taxpayer.

Ongoing government dishonesty conflating Copyright with Counterfeiting

This isn't a new issue, even if there is a new Conservative Government bill C-56 tabled before parliament. The long and short titles tell a shortform of the dishonesty:

An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Short Title: Combating Counterfeit Products Act

Commercial infringers demanding government gut laws protecting technology owners.

I sent the following to my MP and to the Minister of Industry:

Mr McGuinty, my MP for Ottawa South,
Cc: The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry,

As you know I have spent more than a decade working on protecting technology owners from various forms of infringement of their tangible property rights. Much of the threats to property rights comes from people and organizations falsely claiming such infringements are necessary to protect their rights.

To borrow from a related phrase: One owners right to protect their property ends at my right to protect my property.

Remember Aaron Swartz by working for open society and against government abuses

Dan Gillmor offers great words for those of us mourning Aaron Swartz.

Public Domain Day 2013

January 1'st each year we morbidly celebrate the death of authors and other creative persons. Flaws in the law mean the expiry of the copyright monopoly, and works finally entering the public domain to the enrichment of all humanity, is most often calculated from the year of a creative person's death.

Wallace J.McLean, Meera Nair and Michael Geist all blogged about the celebration.

Computer Control in the context of a Gun Control debate

There has been considerable discussion (debate, flamewars) about gun control in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newton, Conn. -- so much that the NRA hid its Facebook page to avoid hosting flame wars.

It is hard for me not to be reminded of the debates about computer control while listening to all the debates on gun control.  (See: Protecting the property, privacy and other rights of owners: Bill C-19 and Bill C-11 , The long computer registry and IT control).

Discussing The Declared Value system - a proposal to liberate copyright/patent monopolies

I have been contributing to a thread on Google+ about a copyright/patent reform proposal by Karl Fogel.

While the specific proposal is interesting, I am most happy about the overall themes.

  • Recognition that we are talking about statutory monopolies, and all monopolies have a social and economic cost which must be considered.
  • Recognition that there is a need for registration and renewal for this monopoly, after a possible formality-free grace period.
  • Recognition that this monopoly should come at an economic price (registration/renewal fees, taxation, etc) to the monopoly rightsholder.

Whatever specific reforms are suggested, debated and discussed, these offer a critically needed starting point.

The Writers Union becoming a protest group?

While unfortunate, I was not surprised to hear that representatives of the Writers Union of Canada (TWUC) crashed a private meeting of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) on November 12'th. Like a "Yes Men" type of event these uninvited guests forced themselves in front of the assembled members to speak and pamphlet. They were rude enough that they had to be asked to leave the premises. TWUC protesters video taped their intrusion and sent out a press release.

I was worried this type of thing would happen when I heard that John Degen had become the executive director at TWUC. I first met Mr Degen in 2006, and my concern then was that a certain subset of authors he was part of were lobbying to remove choices from author. Suggesting that there is only one true business model to pay authors, and that authors should not be allowed to explore potentially more lucrative alternatives, appears to remain at the heart of the TWUC protest.

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