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Re: [d@DCC] Note from Susan Crean

From: ag737 _-at-_ (Wallace J.McLean)
To: discuss (at)
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 11:41:32 -0500 (EST)

>>Creative people aren't "forced" to face harsh economic rules. They - we -
>>are the first owner of copyright in our work in the vast majority of
>>circumstances, and can only lose that ownership voluntarily.
>My point is programs like the PLR give owners of copyright something to
>turn to other than a business interest whose goals are their own profit

If, as some of the creator groups contend, the primary goal of copyright
law is economic return to the creator, then the creator, as a sole
proprietor, should have as their primary goal, "their own profit first".
They should then contract or otherwise deal with the rights in their works

My beef with the PLR is that it is of marginal benefit to the class of
creators overall, and like other areas of copyright, can only reward the
already-successful in proportion to their already-success. Meanwhile, the
marginal economic gain by creators is a disproportionately large economic
loss to the public library, which is a cornerstone of good economic and
cultural policy. We're robbing Peter to pay Paul. That makes no sense.

>>How can you change the Copyright Act to obviate these "harse economic
>>rules"? Should we? And why?
>I think there's a place for "harsh economic rules" in the arts, too. I'm
>not saying all artists should be solely paid through government programs.

If our public policy goal is to give artists more money, then beefing up
arts grants -- hell, dropping money out of a helicopter in an artsy
district of Toronto or Montreal -- is a much more effective way of doing
that than broading, deepening, and lengthening copyright "protection",
which usually only ends up being copyright "restriction" with a net
inhibiting, not promoting, effect on culture.

>>I don't think there should be a PLR. I don't believe public lending can be
>>shown to net-undercut the commercial market for books, and even if it did,
>>I don't think it's economic or cultural good sense to rob libraries to pay
>The PLR is funded from Parliament.  Libraries do not pay a dime out of
>their budgets nor do they need to make any changes in the way they

No, but it means that we have made an authoritative allocation of almost
$10-million of public funds, weighted towards the already-paid (based on
the hit-sampling method); an allocation that we could have put to much
better use elsewhere in the cultural economy.

>>Margaret Atwood.
>I see nothing wrong with promoting excellence in the literary arts. 

Neither do I. The market does a good job of taking care of that. I don't
know why we should be spending an average of $727 per registered PLR
author to top that up, especially when you consider that's just the
average. I'd love to see the actual profile of how many registered authors
fall into what PLR payment brackets.

>should have both programs that give higher rewards for popular artists

It's called the marketplace.

>programs that fund less mainstream or not established artists based on
>peer review.

I have no problem with that at all.

>If you are against public funding for the arts in general, then please
>indicate that.  But if you are in favor of public funding for the arts,
>then I can think of no better example of how it can be effectively and
>transparently accomplished than what the PLR does.

I am in favour of public funding in the arts, albeit not "for the arts in
general". I think there is a place for public moneys in the arts and
cultural space. I don't think the PLR is a particularly effective use of
our arts and cultural money, however. Arts spending, like any spending,
can't be and shouldn't be open-ended. We have to be strategic about it,
and I am of the opinion (it isn't a fact!) that the PLR is poor arts and
cultural strategy.

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