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).

Letter to the editor published: Copywhaaaaaaa?

A letter to the editor of the University of Calgary undergraduate student newsweekly, in reply to an article titled "Access Copyright prices go wrong direction" has been published.

The battles between organizations promoting methods of exploiting works of the mind.

This morning I am reading an article in Canadian New Media about the most recent battles at the Copyright Board of Canada. As has become typical, the debate is between different parts of the music industry as well as between different methods of distribution and remuneration for music. While from the outside they like to paint a picture of all being on the same team against "infringers", the reality seems to be that the music retailers, publishers, collectives for publishers, labels and mechanical collectives seem to reserve some of their harshest attacks for each other. Much of the discussion at the Collective Society dominated hearings at the Copyright Board seems to be of the "one true business model", where I can't see the interests of musicians and music fans being represented at all.

DRM is anti-privacy, anti-security, anti-cryptography

One of the common mistakes people make is to confuse the legitimate use of Technical Proptection Measures (TPMs) to protect privacy, security and other such things with DRM. DRM may make use of the same technologies with legitimate uses, but are configured to accomplish entirely different and often incompatible goals. TPMs can be used to protect the interests of rightsholders, but they can also be abused to circumvent

A blogger named Ian Brown wrote about a meeting he was at with the British Literary and Artistic Copyright Association, what seems to be the British equivalent of Access Copyright. They want to apply a levy on the Internet that would automatically charge ISP customers when this copyright work is somehow automatically detected. I am assuming it would be detected by magic, given I know of no technology that can scan packets going over the Internet efficiently and fast enough to do it over the live Internet.

Record label finds new foe : sites hosting user generated content.

An Australian IT article starts:

UNIVERSAL Music, the world's biggest record company, is stepping up pressure against websites YouTube and MySpace, accusing them of infringing copyright.

This is an example of a clear market failure. There is no way to have the creators of these amateur productions go through the lawyers required to adequately license the musical works. The only way out of this is to legalize and monetize this use of music the way we did for radio airplay and public performance in bars: though statutory licensing.

More public discussion with John Degen

The following is a reply to comments John Degen added to his own BLOG. There were also replies to Cory Doctorow who also contributed.


Everyone you don't bark at isn't necessarily your friend :-)

Some of this is a repeat of past conversations, with the new thing being that it is part of the PWAC BLOG.

I am involved in this process to protect the rights of fellow creators. I applaud those authors who in the past got together with their traditional publishers and created collective societies to solve some problems of the day. This doesn't automatically translate to those collectives not being a problem for authors today. The world is full of good intentions and unintended consequences. The world also changes over time, and what might have been a solution to a problem in the past can very easily become a problem later on.

Access Copyright prices go wrong direction

An article by Emily Senger in the University of Calgary undergraduate student newsweekly includes:

Access, the Canadian copyright licensing agency, has upped its copyright royalties from 8.7 cents per page to 10 cents per page, as of Sept. 1.

The change will be reflected in the price of all photocopied materials including course packs and lab manuals, according to University of Calgary copyright officer Wendy Stephen.

I wrote the following as a letter to the editor:

I am wondering if the University has thought about Access Copyright alternatives, such as Open Access publishing. The best way to get out from under the thumb of this collective that is primarily controlled by old-economy academic publishers is to move the University to modern publishing models. As an example, MIT in the USA has the course material for a number of courses available in licenses which allow for royalty-free distribution, as well as peer production (IE: they can be modified to fit Canadian or more specific curriculum requirements of the University of Calgary).

Protecting authors rights, including freedom of choice, in the educational market.

The following was a reply to a posting by John Degen on the PWAC BLOG.


We have had many conversations on this. Unfortunately we have never resolved our disagreement on the harm of extended/statutory licensing in areas where there is not a market failure (IE: where there are competing business models). Extended/statutory licenses are extreme measures that must only be used in extreme situations where there is a massive market failure, with radio airplay, cable retransmission, and IMHO non-commercial p2p redistribution being obvious examples of market failures.

Education Ministers' Proposal in Need of a Rewrite

This weeks Law Bytes by Michael Geist includes:

In the run-up to the last federal election, the Conservatives appeared to side with CMEC on this issue. Over the past few months, there has been widespread speculation that the government plans to proceed with reforms that would largely grant the educators their cherished exception.

While the Ministers appear convinced that this benefits the education community, there are potentially several negative long-term effects.

RIAA copyright education contradictory

Just so Canadians won't think it is only Access Copyright that gets the law wrong when trying to "educate" people about Copyright, this CNET article discusses some of the flaws in an RIAA campaign.

As with Captain Copyright there is a disrespect for authors rights by suggesting that these intermediaries are the only options available to authors, and that alternatives should be presumed illegal. This is not "education" about the law, but lobbying to try to protect their legacy business models in the face of growing competition. The more I see this level of misinformation the more I believe these intermediaries feel that people learning the truth would not allow their way of doing business to have a future.

Canada sets key hearings on online music sales

This Reuters article by Larry LeBlanc discusses upcoming Copyright Board hearings to begin on September 6 to discuss the rates for online music distribution. For those who think that the "music industry" is all one happy family, they should note the animosity between the collective societies who collect royalties for music publishers (The songwriter/etc side of the industry) and the major labels (the recording industry side).

While these hearings will discuss the rates that will be imposed on all companies that distribute music online, missing from any of the discussion are publishers and labels whose artists use royalty-free licenses for specific online distribution. My worry is that the incumbents will yet again impose themselves and their outdated business models onto everyone, with CMRRA/SODRAC doing for music distribution in Canada what Access Copyright is doing for the distribution of literary works. Royalty-free distribution models such as Open Access, and licensing models such as Creative Commons should be allowed to co-exist with those creators who choose to seek royalties on all uses of their works.

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