Copyright (royalty) Collective Societies

While copyright royalty Collective Societies often claim to represent creator and non-creator copyright holders, they are simply administrative bodies for one narrow business model option. Some of the most well known (and controversial) Canadian collectives include Access Copyright (previously CANCOPY), Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), and Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC).

Access Copyright’s Lawsuit against York University

Universities have been slow in modernizing how they fund educational material, but have finally been moving away from post-payment (primarily monopoly rent seeking) to pre-payment where the authoring, editing and other works is paid up-front with the results shareable royalty-free.  Doing things as post-payments has allowed third parties to extract huge amounts from educational budgets, and it is far past time that universities took responsibility for these costs downloaded on students and the taxpayer.

Cautionary Tales About Collective Rights Organizations

I've received a few emails about a document (PDF) describing the track records of Collective rights organizations (CROs), including from InfoJustice and one of the founders of Unglue.it (Another awesome alternative to CROs).

My own concerns about how CROs often push for exceptions to copyright in the form of compulsory licensing was included (See page 18, 19), with a reference to "Independent authors just wanting a little respect... from fellow creators and collective societies".

Statutory knowledge monopolies and supply management

Two forms of government manipulation of the marketplace have become the most controversial aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for Canadians: supply management and statutory knowledge monopolies. Each are government interventions in the marketplace between producers and consumers, each have a stated public policy purpose, and each are controversial.

To fees on devices the Harper Government says: yes, no,... err.. what was the question?

In a press release and news conference speech the "Harper Government" alleges to not want to increase costs or otherwise devalue the devices Canadians wish to purchase and own. Minister Paradis claimed that "Placing a new fee on devices with removable memory cards, such as BlackBerrys and smart phones, would increase costs for Canadian families and impact the adoption of the latest technologies."

I say claim not because I disagree that devaluing the devices we own is unwarranted and unfair to Canadians, but that the "Harper Government" did far worse within C-11 than they are alleging to "fix" now.

Crack the Coursepack

Crack the Coursepack is a public legal education project about Canadian copyright law, created in the context of Prof. Tina Piper’s Intellectual & Industrial Property class at the McGill Faculty of Law.

Next steps for the art resale right?

The first amendment moved during clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-11 was an NDP amendment to introduce resale rights (See March 12 minutes for exact wording). This is a policy that the Liberal party has supported in the past. The chair ruled the amendment inadmissible as it was a new concept that is beyond the scope of Bill C-11.

Before proponents of the resale right take that as a failure, the process needs to be looked at more closely. This is also a good time to more publicly discuss the policy being proposed. Multiple bills on the same topic are not admissible within the same session of parliament. When the chair ruled the amendment inadmissible, he was effectively also ruling that tabling that policy as a private members bill would be admissible within this session.

Would an art resale right be good policy?

fear v. education

Meera Nair posted a great article about misinformation on fair dealings.

"It is disappointing to read of the continued distortion of fair dealing through the call to action of The Writers’ Union of Canada and Access Copyright. But I am not surprised; it is much easier to provoke fear than to embark upon the longer journey of educating people."

Should we use other terms for copyright: authors rights? WorkRight?

In the November 22'nd issue of StraightGoods, author John Degen discussed a possible renaming of the term "copyright" to "WorkRight" as a transition to thinking of a creative work as an act. He was echoing Abraham Drassinower, Associate Professor and Chair in Legal, Ethical and Cultural Implications of Technological Innovation in the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, who suggested that, "Unauthorized publication is wrongful because it is compelled speech."

The concept of "unauthorized publication" relates to a work that was not yet published, and is very different than the concept of copyright infringement which nearly always relates to published works. While copyright infringement or exceptions to copyright are nothing like being compelled to speak, I find the idea of moving away from discussing creativity as a form of property to being tied to authorship to be a very useful one.

Re: Heading back to school? Hope you’ve memorized the Copyright Act

The following was written as a response to an opinion piece by John Degen, where a shortform was submitted and published as a letter to the editor.



The underlying premise of John Degen’s article is sound. The Canadian Copyright act is excessively complex. With the tools to create and distribute creativity now in the hands (and pockets) of most students, the problem is getting worse as activities which many reasonably consider lawful are actually considered infringements under our outdated Copyright law. It is so bad that lawyers who are (or claim to be) copyright experts often disagree about what the current law says, so it is entirely unreasonable for students and professors to understand it.

This complexity and lack of clarity will induce students to infringe Copyright.

U Sask seeks alternatives for educational works: authors should too!

The following is my comment to an opinion piece in Straight Goods by John Degen.


There are many things in this opinion piece which are misleading or false. You need to understand what Access Copyright is in order to recognize them all.

Access Copyright is not a government agency or funding body, although it sometimes acts like one. It takes what appears like a “tax” on the money flowing through it to fund the Access Copyright Foundation, which is doing work far more appropriate for a government agency. If I were a member of Access Copyright having my money redirected this way, I would be quite offended.

Access Copyright is not a union representing a class of workers, even though people like Mr. Degen often try to confuse people into thinking it is.

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