Whether free culture allowing all citizens to fully participate, or centrally owned/communicated/controlled culture, at the root of much of the debates are very different ideas on cultural policy.

When Information Production Meets the Computer Network

Last week I wrote an article trying to make sense out of the music industry, and a recent copyright board decision. In Montreal the conversation of music came up at the FACIL event, and I explained how I see the decline of the revenue and influence of the recording industry not as a threat to the interests of musicians, but as something positive that will benefit composers and performers both financially and otherwise. I truly believe we are in a market transition where industrial methods of production, distribution and funding of creativity will be de-emphasized in favour of alternative methods.

I am currently reading Yochai Benkler's book The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, and I thought it might be interesting to offer his summary of the issue.

SXSW Day 6: Gilberto Gil Wants to Free Digital Culture

A BLOG article by Brad King of Technology Review discusses a session that Brazil's minister of culture gave at SXSW. It seems that this event is "Mardi Gras than policy summit", and thus those wanting to discuss critical policy issues spoke to smaller audiences. Gilberto Gil is part of a growing movement that spans the entire globe, although I wish our Canadian Minister understood what was under debate. Of the opposition parties, only fellow musician Charlie Angus seems to shares the forward-facing vision.

Censorship on the CBC

The CBC is taking the opportunity this week to do a massive focus on the issue of censorship around the world. No less then 17 of CBC Radio's regular programs are making one or more significant contributions to the project. I looked through the entire line up which certainly looks extensive. It includes issues of censorship in music, film, journalism and more from all around the world. It is extensive, but it also has one glaring hole which unfortunately, I was not at all surprised to see. That is, the issue of copyright as a form of censorship, and as can be seen from the CBC's line up, it is an issue that often flies below the radar of most people and the mainstream media.

Quebecor Inc. chief Pierre Karl Péladeau launches "defamation" attack in CTF debate..

A Globe and Mail article by Bertrand Marotte and Simon Tuck includes:

The Quebec Superior Court suit filed yesterday alleges that Radio-Canada vice-president Sylvain Lafrance damaged Mr. Péladeau's reputation and that of his company when he was quoted in the daily Le Devoir as saying that Mr. Péladeau was "behaving like a hooligan" -- se promène comme un voyou -- by withholding his share of the funding for the Canadian Television Fund (CTF).

Wikipedia describes Hooliganism as "slang for unruly and destructive behaviour". It seems that the lawsuit is aimed to prove the validity of using the term.

Oda pledges continued support of UN diversity initiative

A CBC arts article discusses the UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.

The federal government will continue promoting a UNESCO convention designed to protect cultural diversity worldwide, a project ratified by the former Liberal government in 2005.

"We are committed to playing an active role in implementing the convention," Heritage Minister Bev Oda said in a statement Monday.

Part of the discussion was the opposition by the USA to this treaty, and how Canada and France were some of its strongest proponents. I wonder if this work will ever be followed up upon, with this UNESCO treaty standing in strong contrast with the protectionism for specialized business models encoded within the 1996 WIPO treaties.

Given Quebec's support for the UNESCO treaty, I winder what the real thoughts are on the conflicting 1996 WIPO treaties?

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

A YouTube video by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University, tries to explain Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes. It shows what is happening, but also some of the things we need to rethink (including of course copyright, which is currently radically outdated for a world of peer production -- and governments listening to the old-media lobbiests are facing backwards...).

Make the Cable Companies Honour their Commitments to the CTF

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting have sent out a call for people to write their MP about the Canadian Television Fund.

Back in 1993, the CRTC allowed the cable monopolies to keep a special fee that they had charged their customers in previous years. The only condition was that the companies contribute half of that amount to a cable production fund, which became the Canadian Television Fund in 1996. Since agreeing to this arrangement in 1993, Shaw, Vidéotron and other distribution companies have pocketed the other half of their subscribers' funds - amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars - with the blessing of the CRTC.

Toronto Star: TV fund money really belongs to us

A Toronto Star article by Antonia Zerbisias offers an interesting perspective on the Canadian Television Fund issue that has been brought to the foreground. While I believe that such funds are appropriate to achieve important public policy goals, the funding mechanism may not be the best one.

Of interest is the clarification of just how much current Heritage Minister Bev Oda knows about the file:

What's more, Heritage Minister Bev Oda – who last week renewed the government's commitment to the fund to the tune of $200 million over two years – knows it.

Here's the thing: as I pointed out here last week, when the fund was created she was a member of the CRTC.

Seasons Greetings!

I've been enjoying checking out some of the Christmas Lights displayes on YouTube and Google video. I find that the artistic and electronic effort that goes into these to be quite amazing. I'm thankful that this type of entertainment is possible, and that sharing with a larger audience on websites like these are possible. Hopefully in the new year we might finally get the incumbent industry associations, politicians, and policy makers to understand this value and encourage rather than discourage its growth.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays, or whatever else you are celebrating.

“A lot goes into media. What do you take out?” New campaign launches with National Media Education Week

Press release: Ottawa, November 20, 2006 – Media Awareness Network (MNet) and the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) today launched the first ever National Media Education Week. The week, which runs from November 19 to 24, 2006, encourages the integration and the practice of media education in Canadian homes, schools and communities. A new multi-media public service campaign to promote media literacy will ask viewers, listeners and readers to consider what messages and meaning they take out of media.

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