Reply to constituent from Gary Schellenberger, MP

The following was sent to a constituent on 2 December 2007, via e-Mail.

Thank you for your email message of 8 December 2007 regarding the issue of copyright reform.

In the Speech from the Throne Our Government made it clear that we "will improve the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in Canada, including copyright reform." We take this issue very seriously, and I appreciate hearing from constituents such as yourself who take an interest in this subject.

As you know copyright reform is complex, and Our Government wants to strike the right balance. Our Government wants to protect the rights of creators and rights holders.

Our Government knows it must quickly move forward with the reform of copyright legislation. After careful analysis of existing legislation and consultations with stakeholders, we anticipate that the government will be able to introduce a bill in the near future.

Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage have taken into account the concerns of interested parties and we want to ensure that every aspect of reforming the legislation will be properly analysed. We have looked closely at measures taken by other countries and will determine if they are suitable for Canada.

A bill will be introduced when the Minister is satisfied it strikes the right balance between creators and consumers. Like you, I look forward to seeing this bill when it is ready and taking part in a fulsome debate on the subject in Parliament.

Thank you again for contacting me in regards to this subject. If I may be of further assistance to you on this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office.


Mr. Gary Schellenberger, MP
Perth—Wellington GS/dc

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It seems these days that the laws for copyright are moving slower than the industry is. It also seems there is so much left open ended in the courts that one doesn't really know if they are even breaking the law (or they have enough loop-holes that they can bypass them anyways). I am no lawyer but I do have an idea that I think might solve many problems and create many new opportunities for artists and Canada as a country in general. This is why I have started this group. For discussions about my idea and possible tweaks that may be added, in hopes that one day it may come to fruition (givin the fact that enough people join this group and spread the word/idea).

1) A Database would need to be kept. Lets call them Global Musical Artists Database or GMAD. One similar to the patent offices. All artists wishing to receive revenues would need to register their songs on the database. These songs would then be assigned serial numbers and subsequently reserve a limited amount of serial keys for that particular piece of work.

ex. Play It By Ear registers a song called "Marching Chipmonks". It is assigned serial # AbCD 1234 EfGH 5678 IjKL and has a limited quantity reserved for it.

2) When Records are pressed (or sold digitally ie: iTunes) they are each sold with a portion of the rights based on a government regulated flat fee (for sake of ease we'll use $10). The owner of that CD receives the assigned serial # with the CD (in digital plain text document format).

ex. A CD is purchased by a consumer (Jayce) at full price from an outlet for $10 and he receives 100% rights to it.

3) a)Any person wishing to sell their entire set of rights may do so at any time provided they transfer the serial numbers along with it. A transaction as such would not require any contact to GMAD.

b) Any person wishing to divide their share of the rights may do so at any time provided they register with GMAD as a reseller and properly update their copy and any subsequent copies with new serial #'s.GMAD would then provide the rights holder with one of the reserved serial numbers which degrades their portion of rights to correspond with the sale amount. An additional serial # would also be provided to unlock any subsequent copies.

ex. Jayce buys Play It By Ear "Marching Chipmonks" and then decides to sell half his rights to Steve for $5 (pro-rated from the full purchase price). Each copy now has 50% rights. (Keep in mind he is not making a profit, the artist has already received his royalties the first time it was sold thus preserving the artists livelyhood).

4) A minimum of 10% of rights must be held in order for a copy to validate/warrant a new serial # (as a set amount of serial #'s have been assigned for that particular media).

ex. Steve sells Mike a copy with 20% rights for $2, a copy to Ryan with 10% rights for $1 and a copy with 10% rights to Errant for $1 and keeps the remaining 10% rights for himself. These would all be registered with GMAD and they would assign new serial #'s which Steve would distribute with the copies. He too would receive a new serial # as his old one would be invalid. Of these friends only Mike and Jayce have the ability to sell their rights (or make copies so to speak), as they have more than 20% or more rights retained.

6) Any original copy aquired from an authorized GMAD outlet has a maximum of 10 subsequent copies.

So basically instead of the artists going to a company to press their album they would go to GMAD instead and register a set amount of copies/serial #'s for that album. They may also at a later date if so desired, register the same piece of work provided they hold the original copyright to the piece in question. (This also creats a culture for collectors as certain serial #'s will be 1st issue and worth more potentially in the aftermaket resale (ie: 20 years later as an antique or classical piece of music). Vendors like HMV would then need to purchase albums from GMAD's website. They are then given the serial #'s or an authenticaiton code that can be passed to the first user along with the 100% of rights. For a fee a customer can have an authorized GMAD outlet (similar to HMV) download and create a copy from GMAD in a storefront setting.

This would make music limited and an artist could then release more copies by reregistering an album every 20 years (or as desired) to the public. If all the copies are sold and the market demands more, the artist can wait 20 years (or as desired) to let the anticipation grow.

Fees would be set up so that GMAD could maintain its website (government funded to start up). Ie: printing materials for hard copies (shipping extra), server costs, employee costs.

++++ THE MATH (bear in mind these are round numbers for sake of ease)++++
(minimum of 10 copies maximum of 10,000 per purchase. Once sold out, the artist may buy another, or if not sold out you may reregister to keep the rights from going public or your rights expiring).

Step 1: Artist registers song and pays for 10,000 copies to be released for the amount of $50,000.

Step 2: GMAD sells all copies each at $10 to authorized outlets receiving a total of $100,000.
$75,000 goes back to the artists upon sale and a tax of $25,000 stays with GMAD for operating costs.

Senario 1, The artists buys a maximum of 10,000 copies but doesn't sell all of them within the 20 year limit, but he doesn't want other people using his music. So he may purchase a minimum of 10 copies through GMAD in order to keep his rights up-to-date. The benefit here is largely for the government who received payment for his first batch, of which he did not sell all of them. These surpluses could be used to pay off the national debt, or put back into other parts of the system (ie: Helath Care).

Senario 2, The artist buys a minimum of 10 copies and they don't sell. He doesn't have to dump a whack load of cash to find out it's a poor investment and he still gets to keep his rights for the 20 year time period. If one day down the road he becomes popular and fans grab his first album of 10 copies within the 20 year limit, he may then register another set.

In the end, each consumer that purchased one set of rights equivelant to 100% per copy is unable to make a profit reselling or distributing the material. The artist made $25,000 and the government run program makes $25,000 (or rather continues to operate with it). The consumer may then go about his business with his rights as he sees fit (much in the way things go now).

Conclusion: Yes there will always be people getting free copies but this takes Digital Media Rights to another level of regulation. As it stands the law states that you may own a hard copy and make a digital copy for yourself, but then what if I lose my hard copy or it gets damaged? Do I need to delete my digital copy if I don't have a recipt to prove I orignally owned a portion of the rights? No more wondering. It would be regulated like car licenses. The average Joe would know that if he wants to make copies or share it he can do so legally and that he only needs to logon to do it (or go to a govenment office or authorized outlet to have them do it for him).

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