Copyright and Hockey Night in Canada theme

I've read a few peoples comments on the Copyright implications of what is happening with the change of the Hockey Night in Canada theme. I heard that that it was not the payment for the theme that was the core of the dispute, but some "other copyright issues" that related to ringtones and Internet distribution.

When I read the extreme note from Christopher Moore of the Creators Copyright Coalition who blames Michael Geist and the rest of us who want fair copyright, I quickly understood how if the music composer had similar thinking why there would be irreconcilable differences with the CBC.

To try to better understand this issue I have started a thread on the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group. My intention is to openly discuss this issue, try to learn more about what people are feeling, and then eventually BLOG about it. If you have already blogged, please let us know (comment on this article, comment on Facebook, send me an email, whatever).

But I have to admit that from everything I have read so far, I'm with the CBC on this issue which needs to look forward into the future where anyone charging royalties/residuals will stand in the way of an increasing number of mechanisms to talk about and otherwise promote Hockey. Those who are on the side of the composer seem to be stuck in the "author deserves to get paid" loop, and seem unwilling to talk about the "units" of that payment (royalties/residuals which only works for a subset of media, one-time payments which works everywhere, or a combination of both depending on the medium).

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Value contributed by audience

I have blogged about this from the point of view that much of the value of the song - and certainly its association with hockey - was produced by the audience rather than the composer. I also responded previously on to a post by Darryl Moore about Christopher Moore's bizarre claim.

Um... link?

I don’t know what it’s going to take for the A-list copyright blogosphere to actually link to my exhaustive treatment of the rules and regulations for the CBC hockey-theme competition.

If Geist didn’t write it, it’s not worth linking to? What’s the deal here?


Sorry. I included a link to your article in my Facebook submission, but forgot to put it here.

Thanks, and sorry.

I am curious to hear more about your thoughts. You seem to be suggesting in the article that the CBC shouldn't be trying to outright purchase copyright of a new theme song for a one-time fee, and shouldn't be legally enabled to make all entrants publicly available from their website. If this is an accurate summary of your article, can you explain why you believe this is the case?

While I don't have exact peer-reviewed numbers, everything I have read and experienced suggests that the majority of human creativity is paid for through one-time fees (most often salaries). Why should the authorship of a theme song for a public broadcaster be treated any differently? Why should the author of the theme song be able to retain so much control over that work?

That said, I think there may be some clarification from the CBC required for other submission to their contest. If they were clear that they wanted to publish on the contest website in a royalty-free way (necessary for such a usage), maybe they could explain that situation somewhere.

I wonder if ownership transfer is needed, and whether a public license would be sufficient?

I remember the hostility I received about public licensing when I created the terms of service. I had people offended from two opposing sides of the debate: those who didn't like the fact I was demanding that they clear all copyright rights to anything published (IE: no infringements allowed), as well as those who wanted to have things published for free and yet wanted to reserve all rights (IE: not even willing to clarify the legality of me publishing the material, making backups, or the existance of and Google).

There is a political theory that suggests that if you can equally upset both sides of the debate, then you came to a good political compromise ;-)

Copyright discussions bring out some strong opinions, and sometimes just letting go is the only option. There were a number of sites that were closed on as a result of these terms, and even some broken friendships (entirely from the "reserve all rights" side of the debate).

I haven't had clarified for me yet whether what CBC is doing is any different, and whether the opposition to the CBC is any different than the anger I received.

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