Articles and letters in Hill Times on Copyright.

The Hill Times had a letter to the editor and 2 articles on copyright in this week's hill times. Howard Knopf is the author of one and he has published it and a comment on the second article on his BLOG. There was a group of 12 incumbent copyright industry lobbiests who published their article on the CRIA website.

I wrote my own letter to the editor which may appear in next weeks issue which, among other things, refutes the IDC studies -- first the study that under-estimates the use of FLOSS, as well as the derivative study over-estimates the amount of software copyright infringement (The BSA commissioned study the Dire Dozen reference).

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Who's works are they ?

You have to love that final sentence in the Writer's Union of Canada letter:

In all the arguments about large corporate interests at war with consumers on the field of copyright, it is often forgotten that creators own the field.

Here's me thinking that we had freedom of expression in Canada, and that the field therefore belongs to Canadians in general, not just creators.

I see this same fundamental disagreement come up time and time again. To me, copyright is a means to an end - the end being "plenty of cultural works available for Canadians to enjoy". As a monopoly on expression, it's a tool that has to be restricted to the absolute minimum necessary to achieve the objective - it really is a "necessary evil".

To others, copyright represents their ownership rights to the things they created. They think of it like tangible property rights and forget that all the rights granted to the original creator are actually taken away from the owner of the tangible property in question (the copy of the work).

Unfortunately, all the money is in the second camp.

Authors, intermediaries, audiences

I guess whenever this conversation comes up I feel like I'm taken back 6 years to the summer of 2001 when the Canada-DMCA-opponents forum was formed. I really believe the problems are with the outdated intermediaries.

Authors like those represented by the Writers Union of Canada (TWUC - fiction) and PWAC (non-fiction -- the breakdown isn't that simple, but this is approximate) are really just trying to get paid for their craft. While some members have realized that the real threats to their livelihood come from intermediaries, some are stuck with the thinking from the 1980's and earlier that these intermediaries are acting as their representative in the marketplace. Those that trust the intermediaries are aligning themselves with the wrong side, but we need to be exposing these intermediaries, and not faulting the authors themselves.

Many of us in this forum are independent creators, who define themselves as independent-from the old-economy intermediaries. We need to work to allow other creators to join us in this independence, not be seen as opponents.

In my letter I attacked the views of the Dire Dozen, but not the views of the TWUC or PWAC. It is clear with the Dire Dozen that they represent views contrary to those of creators, but with these authors groups they are temporarily misguided and can (and eventually will) change.

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

We shouldn't be accepting all their arguments

Unfortunately, many of the actual creators subscribe to the "I created it, I should own (all the copies of) it" school of thought, which is very damaging to my tangible property rights.

I think we need to oppose that kind of thinking while we wait for them to realise that the Internet isn't their enemy and the intermediaries aren't their friends, because if we're not careful we'll get to that point and find that "intellectual property" rights make tangible property rights irrelevant.

Not just tangible..

As you have written before, it is not just their tangible rights being threatened. That thinking only works for one generation, and then creativity ceases to exist as clearing copyright on the things that all creativity is derived from becomes impossible.

Copyright must be limited in order for creativity to exist at all, regardless of what business models are used by creators to pay their bills.

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