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).

Fairness in an expanded Private Copying regime for recorded music

No matter what I feel about the Private Copying regime for recorded music, it is clear that the music industry wants this. When I say music industry I mean composers and performers who have come out strongly in favor of the regime. It has become clear that the recording industry can no longer be said to represent musicians or the overall music industry.

I can live with this regime being expanded to devices as I consider it the lesser of two evils: a levy on devices, or non-owner locks on devices. In order for the regime to have any resemblance of fairness it should be obvious that we can't allow both.

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Celebrate Copyright day by recognizing greatest threats

April 23'rd is World Book and Copyright Day, organized by UNESCO and celebrated since 1995. This is a good day to become aware of the threats to Copyright so that we can better protect Copyright from them.

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Geist: MP shakes up copyright landscape

See Michael Geist's Law Bytes article for more on the motion and private members bill tabled by Charlie Angus.

While the iPod levy proposal garnered the lion's share of attention, Angus's fair-dealing motion may ultimately have a bigger impact.

Also in the news today: CRTC to rule on 'TV tax' dispute.

Access Copyright further diverges from being collective society.

Collective societies are practically defined in legislation as being legalised cartels. The only legitimate purpose for these legalised cartels is to collect money from specific uses of copyrighted works in the extreme situations where they apply, and distribute to relevant copyright holders. While a tiny cut can be justified for administrative purposes, these legalised cartels should not be lobbying the government, nor should they be administering or creating what are effectively government programs.

An article last month in Quill & Quire details a new Access Copyright Cultural Fund (see PDF of July newsletter from Access Copyright) that seems far more like a government program than something legitimately involving a collective society. "It is being launched with a one-time contribution of $3 million from Access Copyright, and will be augmented in the future by an annual contribution of 1.5% of copyright licensing revenues (about $600,000)."

If authors individually wish to donate their personal money to a non-profit association, then that is their choice. It should clearly not be legal for collective societies to abuse their legalized cartel status this way.

Copyright Consultation: the tail trying to wag the dog.

In yesterday's article, as well as my submission to the consultation, I suggested that the recording industry is like the tail trying to wag the dog in the copyright consultation. The recording industry represents one of three copyright holding groups in a larger music industry made up of composers, performers, and "makers" of sound recordings. While this group dominated the music industry in the past, modern technology will inevitably cause a restructuring of the music industry such that they will be the smallest of the three.

Contrary to recording industry claims, it is my belief that even if there wasn't a single unauthorized music file shared that the recording industry would be seeing a nearly identical decline.

>>> Read full article on ITWorldCanada's blog.

Should Michael Ignatieff join Fair Copyright? I'd vote Yes.

When Michael Ignatieff re-joined the Writers Union of Canada during the Copyright consultation I thought: Great, another misinformed politician who thinks that what the Writers Union is asking for in the Copyright debate will actually help Canadian writers. I finally listened to the August 10'th episode of TVO's Search Engine where 11 minutes and 50 seconds in Jesse Brown offers his own commentary on why Mr. Ignatieff is more of a counter-example to what the union is saying.

Government imposition of specific business models on creators

My first draft of the op-ed for Georgia Straight was far too long, and included not only discussion of digital locks but also commentary about government imposing royalty-based business models. It also used Georgia Straight articles by Bill Henderson and Marian Hebb as illustrations. I'm including here that last part that needed to be cut out of the op-ed.

Political parties and the Private Copying regime

The Canadian Private Copying collective has sent out a press release (PDF from CPCC, covered by FYI music) where they asked the Bloc, Liberal, Conservative, Green and NDP their position on the Private Copying Regime. While the Conservatives did not respond to the survey, I believe it is fair to accept Bill C-61 as their response given they have promised to re-introduce it if elected.

Before the responses from the parties, I would like to offer what I consider to be a fair and historically consistent reform of the private copying regime.

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Open Access textbooks, provincial ministers of education and Access Copyright

There is an interesting article by Gale Holland in the Los Angeles Times talking about the "eye-popping costs" of college and university textbooks. Caltech economics professor R. Preston McAfee offers a solution, which is to create textbooks that can be freely distributed given the bulk of these costs come from copyright costs and the costs of largely unnecessary intermediaries. McAfee "finds it annoying that students and faculty haven't looked harder for alternatives to the exorbitant prices".

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Article linked by Gavin Baker

Copyright: locks, levies, licensing or lawsuits? Part 2: levies

I have expanded this discussion to include licensing, with this being the obvious option that doesn't get discussed. Sometimes instead of trying to use locks (part 1), levies or lawsuits to enforce a specific business model, that using an alternative licensing mechanism would work better.

I covered the topic of levies before on this blog with an article titled "Analyzing when copyright levies are a good idea, and when they are a very bad idea.". In this article I spoke about what are called "compulsory licenses" where a copyright holder can no longer require permission for an activity, but where a royalty fee is imposed. I gave a suggested test for the extreme situation that warrants such an exception to copyright, and tried to apply this test across a few different proposals (The Songwriters Association of Canada proposal that I support, and the Creators’ Copyright Coalition proposal which I strongly reject).

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