Actors reading Copyright fiction from a script + a fact based alternative position

Actors Zaib Shaikh and Wendy Crewson were interviewed for CBC's Power and Politics that aired on November 17'th (time 01:17:00 onward for their interview followed by Minister James Moore).

In theory these actors were talking about Canadian copyright and the modifications proposed in C-32, but you couldn't tell that from listening. They got nearly everything wrong in understanding current Canadian law and the modifications.

They were reading fiction from a script, just as they do in their regular jobs.

The script they were handed by ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) clearly said to push for an extension of the private copying levy to devices, without clarifying that the private copying regime only applies to recorded music. It has nothing to do with television, the medium that these two actors work in. It was clear from the interview that they were not even aware of that basic fact.

If you want to read ideas from an ACTRA member who has actually read the relevant legislation, please read Jason Chesworth's blog and twitter feed.

Nothing in this bill legalizes unauthorized sharing of music or television, contrary to what ACTRA seemed to be claiming.

There are minimal changes to fair dealings, but even these need to be put in context. The fair dealings provisions in C-32 are an unnecessarily complex compromise position between the current law where common uses of VCR's and DVR's are illegal and the position taken in the United States under their flexible Fair Use regime.

It is embarrassing for North American actors to claim that keeping Canadian law stronger than US law will somehow hurt creators, given their own works are available to far more people in the USA than in Canada.

An ideal situation would be if Canada adopted a US-style flexible fair use regime. Canadians incorrectly believe that what is legal in the USA must be legal in Canada, given they have been lied to for years by lobbiests claiming that Canadian law is less protective of copyright than the US.

An alternative proposal

I believe the current Private Copying Regime for recorded music has been a failure, and I document that and an alternative as part of the C-32 FAQ.

The alternative would include an exemption to Copyright, as proposed by ACTRA. The compulsory license that ACTRA is proposing is an exception to Copyright, and differ from fair dealings only in the rate of their proposed levy. My proposal is to clearly carve these activities out of copyright, but charge no levy under copyright.

As an alternative to a levy, a Private Copying Right (PCR) Commission modelled after the Public Lending Right Commission would be struck. This would be accountable and transparent, given money for this government program would come through general tax revenue.

I believe this would be a win-win for everyone concerned. Copyright is made easier to understand (and thus more respectable), and creators would be compensated for these activities. The PLR is generally non-controvercial, unlike the Private Copying Regime which is opposed by many Canadians -- including the Conservative Party of Canada.

PCR would also allow us to focus this regime on Canadians. The USA has an exemption for these activities as part of their flexible Fair Use regime, but has no compensation system. If we continued this as part of Copyright, national treatment rules would require that we send a majority of this money to the United States with no money coming the other direction. If we created a Canadian government program outside of copyright, then the money collected from Canadians would stay in Canada and be paid to Canadian creators.