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?

Faith-based support of anti-communication legislation

Today many have been raising awareness of USA's SOPA and PIPA. I thought I would back up a bit from those specific initiatives, and discuss just how far apart people are on this type of policy.

A short lived celebration

I celebrated Public Domain Day by sending a letter to my MP (David McGuinty in Ottawa South) and Senators for Ontario and Ottawa to highlight the public domain and the separate problems of Paracopyright.

Meera Nair wrote an article on how this may be a short lived celebration in that there is a desire as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership to extend the term of copyright from death+50 to death+70 years.

Is C-11 consistent with a "low-tax plan for jobs and growth"?

I often joke that copyright policy is as complex, understood, and as exciting, as tax policy. Most Canadians would prefer not to talk of either, and those of us who find either exciting are in a small minority Holidays I reflect on this oddity, given my favorite topics are some of the least interesting for most people I would visit.

I thought it would be interesting to start 2012 with a discussion of other ways in which there are similarities between tax and copyright policy, and look at how politicians and other people treat each.

Supreme Court: playing games, sampling music, or eating ice cream?

I visited the Supreme Court today as that series of Copyright related cases are being heard. Today we heard arguments from the appellants, respondents and intervenors in two cases: Entertainment Software Association, et al. v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, Rogers Communications Inc., et al. v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada and Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, et al. v. Bell Canada, et al.

While I found hearing the arguments first-hand in the court exciting, I won't be commenting on those arguments or the specifics of what is before the court. The court will be ruling on how these fact patterns are to be interpreted under current law (legislation and caselaw). Since Bill C-11 impacts the specific sections under discussion this interpretation of the law may be short lived. More interesting may be a discussion of the the underlying policy question , including what I wish the law would say, as opposed to what current law or C-11 says.

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.

Advice to an NDP official opposition on Copyright

While I’ve not being asked yet, I thought I would offer the new NDP official opposition some advice that I believe is consistent with their stated values. I offered some advice for the Conservative majority government, and I hope the NDP will take those suggestions into account as well. I am available to meet with any caucus member to discuss this area of policy more.

Members of the new Official Opposition caucus had a press conference today where they discussed their arts and culture platform for the coming Parliament. The speakers included Charlie Angus (Timmins--James Bay), Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber), Andrew Cash (Davenport), and Pierre Nantel (Longueuil - Pierre-Boucher). I didn’t have a chance to view the press conference yet (I haven’t found an archive online), but have read the press release.

Advice to a Conservative majority on Copyright

While I’ve not being asked yet, I thought I would offer the new majority government some advice that I believe is consistent with their stated values. All too often with the debates around technology law we see policies put forward that I’m concerned MPs haven’t given the time to understand how they interact with their own longer-standing values and experiences.

This is also an open invitation to any MP or MP staffer from any party to meet in Ottawa to discuss this area of policy. This isn’t sound-bite stuff that can be understood in only a few moments. While I’m a volunteer policy coordinator for a few technology related organizations, I would be meeting as a citizen who has spent much of the last decade dedicated to this area of policy.

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