Copyleft / Copyright / Copywrong – Is Copyright obsolete in the Digital Age?

The most recent newsletter from the Creators' Rights Alliance (CRA Briefings #35) contained an announcement about an exciting future event they are organizing.

The Steering Committee also set in motion plans for the Autumn event Copyleft / Copyright / Copywrong – Is Copyright obsolete in the Digital Age? This will be designed as an opportunity for artists and creators to share information and experiences about distributing their work on the Internet. It will feature an electronic salon highlighting some of these projects. Artists and activists from across Canada and from abroad will be on hand to discuss their work and their experiments with new forms of contracts (such as the Creative Commons licence) and business models. The event will close with an address from the popular Brazilian performer, Gilberto Gil, who is also Brazil’s Minister of Culture. The event will be held at the end of September at Ryerson University in Toronto and is being sponsored by the School of Journalism. Keep you eye on this space for more details!

My easy answer to the question posed by the title is "no", the concept of copyright is not obsolete, but as has always been the case with copyright since the beginning some existing methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity will become obsolete and be replaced by innovative new methods.

I'm very excited about this event, and to hear Gilberto Gil speak in person. I have also heard that Cory Doctorow may also be a speaker. This may be the beginning of the end of animosity between the various creator communities, with the possibility that we can work together on copyright that will protect all our rights, rather than the existing policy (seen in the 1996 WIPO treaties, Bill C-60, and most of the policy coming out of the USA) which protects the interests of specific copyright holders at the expense of the vast majority of creators.

Is this just wishful thinking?

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Copyright Obsolete?

In answering the question, 'Is Copyright Obsolete', I personally say, 'not yet, but certain copyright stakeholder interests groups are trying to make copyright obsolete' Copyright still serves a purpose in that it legally prevents people from selling unauthorized copies of a product without compensating the original creator in any way. Beyond that, the digital age is essentially asking copyright to addapt to new climates and the stakeholders are attempting to addapt it in erronious ways (re: Bill C-60)


You may want to expand your thinking here. Are you talking about the replacement of copyright (a set of exclusive rights) by things such as a "right of remuneration" (Collectives taking over) or DRM (device manufacturers taking over)?

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.

Generally Speaking...

A lot has to do with DRM and other content restriction measures. Some of it has to do with using copyright as a sword rather then a shield so-to-speak where what is happening in the US is customers getting notice and takedown notices as well as demands to "settle" (effectively, in my mind, mugging their own customers) I am quite positive the CRIA wants to take Canada down this road as they are growing less and less Canadian as the days go by ;)

New American IP law proposals

Looks like the copyright extremists are at it again. Can you imagine--10 years in prison for wilful copyright violation?? The mind literally boggles.....


Courtesy of Slashdot:

"Representative Lamar Smith is sponsoring the Intellectual Property Protection Act. The new bill is designed to give the Justice Department 'tools to combat IP crime' which which are used to 'quite frankly, fund terrorism activities,' according to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Among the provisions is lowering the standards for 'willful copyright violation' and increasing the corresponding prison term to 10 years." More information is also available at

and one year for

and one year for rape....
What a messed up country.

Messed up country?

Is Canada any better? Are our politicians any more informed on the issues? Are our citizens any more engaged in politics?

Please spend whatever time you can spare to try to educate your fellow citizens and your elected representatives about this issue. Please send a letter to your MP, and ensure that everyone you know has signed our petition.

Canada could easily end up with a worse copyright regime than the USA. The USA started off better than us in many ways (fair use rather than fair dealings, no crown copyright, etc) and thus we have less distance to fall than they did.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.