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[d@DCC] NDP Copyright resolution
From: "Darwin O'Connor" <doconnor _-at-_ reamined.on.ca>
Below is my proposed copyright resolution for the upcoming federal NDP convention and afterwords is my reasoning behind it. It has been also posted at http://doconnoronca.livejournal.com/ Resolution Whereas copyright must balance between ensuring creators have the incentive they need to create and allowing people to take advantage of the ability of public domain material to be freely shared and be used to inspire new material; Whereas the length of copyright has gone far beyond what is necessary to provide an incentive for creators to create; Whereas copyright law is often impractical to enforce so compliance must be based on respect between consumers and copyright holders; Whereas the media distribution industry have been pushing for legal protection for digital rights management (DRM) under the guise that it's needed to protect copyright, its true purpose is to control how legitimate customers use what they have purchased; Therefore be it resolved that copyright holders should have no right to dictate how their material is used, consumers may copy, modify and reverse engineer material for use within their household as long as they own or rent it and there be no legal protection for DRM; and Be it further resolved that the levies under the Private Copying regime be removed and the illegality of making unauthorized copies of copyrighted music from others be reaffirmed; and Be it further resolved that the copyright period for new material be reduced to 15 years, with the option to register for two extensions of 15 years (for a total of 45 years) and past material be reduced to the copyright period that existed at the time of creation. The power of copying Intellectual property, including both copyright and patents, have two unique features that make it different from normal property. The first is that you can sell or give away intellectual property without losing it yourself. To see how important this feature is, imagine a machine that could make unlimited copies of an apple, and other foods, at virtually no cost, and those copies could be used to feed everyone in the world. It would be a tremendously powerful tool. What would you think if I proposed a law that would make it illegal to use that machine without the permission of the farmer who grew the apple and the payments he wanted meant that it could no longer be used to feed the world because it would cost too much? I don't think most people would support such a law. However, that is the current state of copyrighted material, which, in some ways, is even more powerful and important then food. The power of creativity The second unique feature is people have an innate desire to create. Humans are creative beings. From childhood to old age there are few things we enjoy more then telling a good story, coming up with a funny joke or creating a work of art. If everyone had unlimited resources there would be no need for copyright, because our innate desire to create is more then enough incentive to create all the material that could be desired. In fact, the beginning of this effect can be seen in some industries. Most open source software is created by people without the expectation of financial rewards. They can do it because it requires few resources. Just their inexpensive home computer, the Internet for distribution and their education and work experience. That is not the only example. Now that the Internet allows people to distribute material to anyone at virtually no cost there are thousands of people freely publishing their fiction, music and opinions on line in blogs and other forums. While not all of these efforts are at the level of commercially produced material, an increasing number of them are. Copyright also prevents people from publishing material that is based on other people's characters and story lines without permission, which actually prevents a lot of works inspired by other material from being created or distributed. The power of respect All laws are obeyed primarily because the majority of people respect the law and follow it willingly. No government or police force could enforce a law if everyone started violating it. They would be vastly out numbered. There are already laws that are widely ignored . For example, the prohibition against marijuana. The ban no longer seems reasonable many and in many circles its use is accepted. Police usually do not prosecute people found in possession of small amounts any more. If copyright is used to stop people from doing what seems reasonable to them, they will not respect it. Up until recently music tracks from CDs could be easily converted to MP3 files, an open format that could be played back by a number of different devices, including directly on a home computer, on a portable MP3 player or stored on a CDR for play back in a car stereo. People did this because they believed they should be allowed to enjoy the music they have bought using the method that they choose. Now many CDs come with features to prevent consumers from converting their music to MP3. While most of these DRM systems usually do allow consumers to create compressed music files, they are in closed formats, which means only certain devices support it and they are subject to the limitations placed on it by the copyright owner. In another case, it is not unusual for someone to be unable to play a computer game they have legitimately purchased because the copy protection has a bug or an incompatibility with their system. To get around both these problems people download a illegitimate copies from the Internet. This leaves a frustrated consumer who has been forced into illegal coping by the very thing designed to prevent it. Media companies have been very slow to move to the on line market. The introduction of the iTunes music store was a good first step, however there had been a demand for such a service for 10 years. The Internet had been through several generations of music trading before they finally created a legitimate way of buying music on line. From the early days of MIDI and MOD files, through the rise and fall of Napster to the new generation of peer to peer file trading applications they refused to sell on line for fear of piracy, as if it could have been much worse then it already was. Having lost respect for the music industry the first generation of Internet users turned to piracy. It remains to be seen if they will return to the legitimate market, however no change in law will likely have any effect on them. These consumers must be treated with respect if they are to be won back. The weakness of DRM The media companies have claimed that Digital Rights Management (DRM) is needed to prevent illegal copying, however the concept is flawed. The fundamental weakness is that to protect their material they lock the content by encrypting it, but they must also give the consumer the keys to decrypt it so they can view it. As a result there are so many ways to get around DRM, it really does nothing to stop illegal copying. The most effective way of getting around DRM is to crack the encryption and get the keys. This can be done by extracting the key from the decrypting software, discovering the key by testing every possible combination until the right one is found, or finding a flaw in the encryption process that allows you to decrypt it without the key. Another method of getting around DRM is to intercept the content after it has been decrypted to get an unprotected copy. With the cooperation of hardware and operating system manufactures the industry has been developing "trusted computing" to prevent intercepting by detecting if the software has been tampered with. While this could work in theory, if there are bugs they could be exploited to work around all this security. It also required consumers to buy new hardware and software that supports trusted computing before they would be able to use the media. Even with trusted computing it is still possible to capture the media by recording it directly off the video display or speakers. While some quality is lost, reasonable results can be achieved. A final method is to simply copy the media in its entirety, including the encryption. While you cannot modify the media to convert it into a more convent format when you do this, it can be used to make copies of entire DVDs or CDs. While most people would find it difficult to use some of these methods, it only requires one technically adept user to extract a copy and begin distributing it then everyone will have access to it. As DRM is not an effective way of preventing illegal copying, why would the industry be pushing it so hard? While some people think the executives don't have the technical knowledge to understand these problems and have been bamboozled by the people selling these solutions, that doesn't seem likely. The real purpose is to control how legitimate consumers use their material. This can be seen in how they are pushing the Canadian government to make unauthorized removal of the DRM protection illegal. If they where only worried about unauthorized copying the new law wouldn't be needed because it is already illegal. They want to make removing DRM illegal to keep legitimate users from removing it and using the material they bought in the way want. With DRM in place they can control which devices the material they sell can be used on, how it's used and force consumers to buy the material separately for each device. The Private Copying Regime The private copying regime was enacted in Canada in 1998. It allows Canadians to make copies of music, and only music, for personnel use. In exchange the copyright commission levies fees on each cassette tape and CDRs sold. The fees collected are distributed among musicians based on their sales records. The system is flawed on several levels. First many of the CDRs sold are not used to copy music. Almost none of the cassette tapes sold are used to copy music anymore either, but the fees are still applied. Worse some CDRs are used by amateur and part-time musicians to record CDs of their own music to sell themselves. They still have to pay the fee which goes to mainstream musicians that are their competition. While it may not have been the original intension, the law has been interpreted to allow downloading of music files from the Internet for personal use. I believe consumers should be allowed to make copies of material they legitimately own for personal use without extra fees. It should be no business of the copyright holder what format a consumers coverts their material to or how many different devices it is viewed on, any more then the manufacturer of a hammer can tell the consumer what kinds of houses they can build with it, whether they can replace the handle or if they can incorporate the hammer into a piece of modern art. The length of copyright These days copyright is so long that by the time material enters the public domain it has lost relevance. In fact, in a great many cases it has been permanently lost. Had it left copyright sooner, it could have been distributed again, ensuring that copies would have remained. Over the years the length of copyright has been extended due to lobbying from the distribution companies that control much of the copyrighted material to maximize their profit at the expense of the public domain and to prevent material they are no longer interested from being distributed by competitors. Perversely, these copyright extensions have been retroactive, as if an incentive is needed to create something that has already been created. I've suggested the length of copyright be reduced to a maximum of 45 years requiring renewal every 15 years. Requiring renewal is important because a large amount of the material that is produced is only published for a few years before it becomes absolute or unpopular and is no longer commercial viable. Under our current system it would remain locked under copyright for decades before it could be used again. By that time it has often been lost forever. During this time the material could have been enjoyed by some or be used in the creation of new material. Some might argue that permission could be sought from the copyright holder, but in many cases the copyright holder cannot be found because they've moved or the company with ownership went out of business. In other cases, the copyright holder could be a large company that are not interested because such a small deal is not worth their time or they don't want their old material competing against their new material. Requiring renewal will allow material that is still benefiting the copyright holder to stay under copyright, while material that the owner is no longer interested in or has forgotten about will enter the public domain allowing society to benefit from it once again. Registration a renewal could be made as simple as submitting the title, a brief description, the creation date, author, and the current copyright holder to the government for publication, perhaps using a on line form. Registration could be sent in as early as 5 years before the renewal deadline. The renewal would automatically include minor variations of the material. Another idea would be to require inclusion of a high quality copy of the material when renewing. For software the source code would also be required. This would be stored until the copyright expires then released to the public so that a copy is preserved. For software, having the source code would mean that it could be modified and incorporated into new projects, which isn't practical with just the compiled version. Reducing copyright on material already created would not be fair, as there maybe a few cases where they are depending on a return over the very long term, however material that was created under shorter copyright periods has no need for the extensions they have been given. It might be reasonable to require registration every 15 years for existing material to allow some of it into the public domain earlier. _______________________________________________ Discuss mailing list Discuss@list.digital-copyright.ca http://list.digital-copyright.ca/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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